[Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — Milwaukee] The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton was re-elected presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA, on Aug. 6 at the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. On the first ballot, 897 votes were cast and 670 votes were needed for election. Eaton received 725 votes, which is 81.19% of the vote.
Eaton is the first ELCA presiding bishop to win re-election on the first ballot. She was elected to a first term as presiding bishop at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh.
The first ballot for presiding bishop was cast during the first plenary Aug. 5. The vote was declared invalid because of an unconstitutional early vote on the amendments to the bylaws of the ELCA constitution. This included an amendment that gave the ELCA Church Council the right of vote at a churchwide assembly, which included the election of the presiding bishop.
“Thank you, Vice President Horne. And thank you to all of you, and thank you to the voting member who rightly brought to our attention that we were not following our own procedures,” said Eaton, addressing the assembly after the election results were announced. “The law is in place for a reason, but I’m really happy for the gospel part right now.”
“We’re church, church first,” Eaton said, recalling the first of the four emphases she introduced after her election in 2013. “Our lives are not only supported but our lives are surrounded, and our lives have their basis and meaning in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And especially as we experience that in our lives and are changed by that in word and sacrament. That’s where we get any authority or certainly any integrity to do works of love and justice, because we’re church.”
The 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly is meeting Aug. 5-10 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. The assembly – the highest legislative body of the ELCA – will participate in plenary discussions to decide how to go about God’s work as a church. The assembly will also spend time in worship and Bible study.