Susan Johnson’s Election Reflects Commitment to Be an Inclusive Communion, Says LWF General Secretary
WINNIPEG, Canada/GENEVA, 27 June 2007 (LWI) – Delegates to the 21-24 June Eleventh Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) elected Rev. Susan C. Johnson to a four-year term as ELCIC National Bishop. Johnson, assistant to the bishop of the Eastern Synod, was elected on the sixth and final ballot for the position.
Bishop-elect Johnson will succeed Raymond Schultz, who leaves office on 1 September 2007. Schultz was elected national bishop in 2001 and re-elected in 2005, but announced his retirement for personal and health reasons.
Schultz is a member of the Council of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) serving on the Program Committee for Ecumenical Affairs and Constitution Committee, as well as chairperson of the LWF Renewal Committee. Johnson is a Council adviser.
Congratulating Johnson, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko said the ELCIC election results were an indication “that the Lutheran communion is indeed translating its commitment to be an inclusive communion. The ministry of the church is one shared by women and men.”
Speaking to Lutheran World Information (LWI), Noko called upon members of the Lutheran communion to uphold Johnson in their prayers as she prepares for installation as ELCIC national bishop.
Johnson, 49, has been assistant to the bishop of the ELCIC Eastern Synod since 1994. She was ELCIC vice president from 2001 to 2005.
“I’m just overwhelmed and honored by this incredible honor,” said Johnson. “I promise to be all that I can to help us together to be In Mission for Others.”
Of the ELCIC five synods, two are led by women – Bishops Cynthia Halmarson of the Saskatchewan Synod, and Elaine Sauer of the Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario Synod.
Bishop-elect Johnson has been an LWF Council adviser since 1998, serving on the Program Committee for Ecumenical Affairs until 2003, and currently on the Program Committee for Theology and Studies. She has served as a member of the LWF North American Regional Committee and of the LWF Leadership Development Task Force, as well as on a variety of boards and committees at national and synodical level.
In other deliberations, the ELCIC Convention defeated a motion to encourage the church’s five synods to develop ways “to best minister to people who live in committed same-sex relationships, including the possibility of blessing such unions.” The motion received 181 votes in favor and 200 votes against by secret ballot.
The Convention also adopted an environmental stewardship initiative Stewardship of Creation which will include the establishment of an accreditation process for congregations wanting to be recognized as “green congregations.”
The ELCIC is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It joined the LWF in 1986. (464 words)
Further information on the ELCIC Convention is available at: www.elcic.ca/In-Convention/2007-Winnipeg/default.cfm