Process for Election of the Bishop

Metropolitan New York Synod – Election of a Bishop

Adopted by the Synod Council on April 21, 2018 
Affirmed by the Synod Assembly on May 11, 2018

Because the resolution for the election of the bishop passed at the 2012 assembly had specific dates relating to the 2014 election of bishop, this process will not be used for any upcoming election. 

The synod council approved the pre-identification of pastors as a step in the process for the election of bishop at the 2019 assembly and submits such for affirmation by the Synod Assembly.

*Pre-identification is when a pastor on the roster of the ELCA is identified as having the gifts and skills necessary to serve as bishop.  Pre-identification may come through individuals, congregations, conferences.

The election for a new bishop will take place at the 2019 Synod Assembly. 

  1. While the pre-identification of pastors who could be considered by this synod as our next bishop at the next election is affirmed, an ecclesiastical ballot is the recommendation.  In other words, we would approach the election with the first ballot being a nominating ballot.  That is, any ELCA rostered pastor can be voted for on the first ballot, regardless of whether that individual was pre-identified in the process discussed below.
  2. The Synod Council shall call the synod to prayerful deliberation.
  3. The Synod Council shall prepare and distribute information about the Metropolitan New York Synod, including its strategic plan and other information that would be helpful for the synod’s consideration.  Input from synodical members may be directed to the synod council.
  4. Pre-identification of possible pastors to be considered may be made by conferences; by individuals, especially voting members to the assembly; and by congregations.
  5. The pre-identification process will open on Feb 1.  Each pre-identified pastor who gives permission to have their name considered will be given a form with common questions that should responded to and submitted by March 1. Names and responses will be shared with the synod secretary. The secretary will post the names and responses of individuals on the synod website 45 days prior to the assembly. At the opening of the assembly, this information will be removed from the website, and moved to an ecclesiastical ballot.  Pre-identified pastors are not to make the rounds of conferences and congregations to campaign for this office. 
  6. During the assembly election process, each of the seven persons who will appear on the third ballot (see paragraph 8 below which sets forth the ecclesiastical ballot process set forth in S9.04 of the synod constitution) will be given an opportunity to address the assembly. If a fourth ballot is necessary, the three persons who will appear on the fourth ballot will be asked to respond to questions in front of the assembly.  Such questions will be developed by the synod council in advance of the assembly with input from members of the synod.
  7. The ecclesiastical ballot is defined in the synod constitution under †S9.04, which reads:               

†S9.04.  The bishop shall be elected by the Synod Assembly by ecclesiastical ballot.  Three-fourths of the legal votes cast shall be necessary for election on the first ballot.  If no one is elected, the first ballot shall be considered the nominating ballot.  Three-fourths of the legal   votes on the second ballot shall be necessary for election.  The third ballot shall be limited to    the seven persons (plus ties) who received the greatest number of legal votes on the second   ballot, and two-thirds of the votes cast shall be necessary for election.  The fourth ballot shall be limited to the three persons (plus ties) who receive the greatest number of votes on the third ballot, and 60 percent of the legal votes cast shall be necessary for election.  On subsequent ballots a majority of the legal votes cast shall be necessary for election. These ballots shall be limited to the two persons (plus ties) who receive the greatest number of legal votes on the previous ballot.

  1. For an ELCA pastor to be on the slate of nominees for bishop, her or his name must be included in the tally of votes received on the first ballot for bishop.

Addendum: The Synod Constitution defines the responsibilities of a synod bishop in †S8.12.

†S8.12. As this synod's pastor, the bishop shall:  a. Preach, teach, and administer the sacraments in accord with the Confession of Faith of this church.  b. Have primary responsibility for the ministry of Word and Sacrament in this synod and its congregations, providing pastoral care and leadership for this synod, its congregations, its ministers of Word and Sacrament, and its ministers of Word and Service.  c. Exercise this church's power to ordain (or provide for the ordination by another synodical bishop* of) approved candidates who have received and accepted a properly issued, duly attested letter of call for the office of ministry of Word and Sacrament (and as provided in the bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).  d. Consecrate (or provide for the consecration of) approved candidates who have received and accepted a properly issued, duly attested letter of call for service as ministers of Word and Service.  e. Attest letters of call for the persons called to serve congregations in the synod, letters of call for persons called by the Synod Council, and letters of call for persons on the rosters of this synod called by the Church Council.  f. Install (or provide for the installation of) rostered ministers whose calls the bishop has attested.  g. Exercise leadership in the mission of this church and in so doing:  1) Interpret and advocate the mission and theology of the whole church;  2) Lead in fostering support for and commitment to the mission of this church within this synod;  3) Coordinate the use of the resources available to this synod as it seeks to promote the health of this church's life and witness in the areas served by this synod:  4) Submit a report to each regular meeting of the Synod Assembly concerning the synod's life and work, and   5) Advise and counsel this synod's related institutions and organizations.  h. Practice leadership in strengthening the unity of the Church and in so doing:  1) Exercise oversight of the preaching, teaching, and administration of the sacraments within this synod in accord with the Confession of Faith of this church;  2) Be responsible for administering the constitutionally established processes for the resolution of controversies and for the discipline of rostered ministers, and congregations of this synod;  3) Be the chief ecumenical officer of this synod;  4) Consult regularly with other synodical bishops and the Conference of Bishops;  5) Foster awareness of other churches throughout the Lutheran world communion and, where appropriate, engage in contact with leaders of those churches;  6) Cultivate communion in faith and mission with appropriate Christian judicatory leaders functioning within the territory of this synod, and  7) Be ex officio a member of the Churchwide Assembly.  i. Oversee and administer the work of this synod and in so doing:  1) Serve as the president of the synod corporation and be the chief executive and administrative officer of this synod, who is authorized and empowered, in the name of this synod, to sign deeds or other instruments and to affix the seal of this synod;  2) Preside at all meetings of the Synod Assembly and provide for the preparation of the agenda for the Synod Assembly, Synod Council, and the council's Executive Committee;  ( 3) Ensure that the constitution and bylaws of the synod and of the churchwide organization are duly observed within this synod, and that the actions of the synod, in conformity therewith, are carried into effect;  4) Exercise supervision over the work of the other officers;  5) Coordinate the work of all synodical staff members;  6) Appoint all committees for which provision is not otherwise made;  7) Be a member of all committees and any other organizational units of the synod, except as otherwise provided in this constitution;  8) Provide for preparation and maintenance of synodical rosters containing the names and addresses of all rostered ministers of this synod and a record of the calls under which they are serving or the date on which they become retired or disabled;  9) Annually bring to the attention of the Synod Council the names of all rostered ministers on leave from call or engaged in approved graduate study in conformity with the constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions of this church and pursuant to prior action of this synod through the Synod Council;  10) Provide for prompt reporting to the secretary of this church of:  (a) additions to and subtractions from the rosters of this synod and the register of congregations;    (b) the issuance of certificates of transfer for rostered ministers in good standing who have received and accepted a properly issued, duly attested, regular letter of call under the jurisdiction of another synod; and  (c) the entrance of the names of such persons for whom proper certificates of transfer have been received;  11) Provide for preparation and maintenance of a register of the congregations of this synod and the names of the laypersons who have been elected to represent them; and  12) Appoint a statistician of the synod, who shall secure the parochial reports of the congregations and make the reports available to the secretary of this church for collation, analysis, and distribution of the statistical summaries to this synod and the other synods of this church.