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Topics - MaddogLutheran

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Via the synod website:

Pastor Patricia A. Davenport was elected the next Bishop of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Saturday, May 5, at Franconia Mennonite Church.

Bishop-elect Davenport, 63, currently serves as the Director for Evangelical Mission/Assistant to the Bishop, and is a member of the Spirit and Truth Worship Center in Yeadon. She also has served as a Pastor/Mission Developer for the Spirit and Truth Worship Center and as Acting Bishop for three months. She earned a degree from the Community College of Philadelphia and a M.Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, in addition to three other educational certificates.

Pastor Davenport has been active with various Synod and community groups, including her current positions as co-chair of the Guiding Coalition, Churchwide, and as a member of the Congregational Vitality Team. She attributes her success in her various endeavors to her open mind and spirit to learn as well as lead and gift to speak truth to power in situations of injustice.

She was elected on the fourth ballot, obtaining greater than the required 60% of the vote to be elected, over the 2 other remaining candidates (Julie DeWerth and Carlton Rodgers).  The fifth ballot 2 person race was therefore avoided.

A personal observation, being in the hall:  she received the largest number of first ballot votes, and was perhaps the best qualified of the 7 who moved onto the third ballot.  Obviously the favorite going in, and now surprise candidates rose to challenge her.  The ELCA secretary, Chris Boerger, conducted the election, and commented early on that this synod is perhaps the most diverse in the entire church (and naturally so, not by any quota requirement).  I'm not sure how to put this without sounding patronizing or condescending, but this election result was not about appearing diverse or making history.  In a time of shrinking churches, there is real interest in the synod to support urban ministry, recognizing that the plight of small urban churches is basically the same challenge faced by small rural churches.  (The synod closed 2 churches last year, both non-urban.)  It's not like the outgoing bishop didn't care about this, and the bishop-elect was on the synod staff (as well as being dual-hatted part-time for the churchwide office, I assume a cost sharing device) so I'm skeptical about what can be done.

Perhaps the new bishop's greatest looming crisis (which I'm sure is shared by others), is the need to replace a large percentage of clergy in their 60's who will be retiring at the same time.  Yet another big demographic bubble about to pop.

Sterling Spatz

I'm never quite sure how much personal info I should reveal about myself (and those I know) on the internet, but I think I have to share this about my ELCA congregation's associate pastor, as covered by a columnist:

Holy Cow! Pastor offers free prayers at coffee houses

An excerpt:

Every Thursday morning, Pastor Thomas [NB: his first name used in this through rest of the story after intro, but we generally use his last one] puts on a clergy collar and sets up shop in a local coffee house. He sets out a little sign that reads, “Free Prayer,” and then waits to see who God sends his way.

“I’m humbled all the time by the way that the Spirit works,” the pastor told me. “God is working to give people the courage to say, ‘All right – I’m going to take this pastor up on this offer.’”

And they have – by the hundreds.

The “Free Prayer” program started quietly last summer – inspired by a word of advice Pastor Thomas had received from another member of the clergy -- a pastor is doing the job well when at least half of his or her time is spent outside the office.
The preacher admitted to being a little more than nervous when he set up shop for the first time in the local outpost of Panera Bread.

“I went in with fear and trembling,” he recounted. “I put the sign up, put my nose into a book – I was afraid to make eye contact.”

But eventually, Pastor Thomas grew courageous – and soon the Lord was sending many customers to his table – wayfaring strangers looking for a place to cast their cares.

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