A Message from the 2021 Bishop's Election Committee

During the 2021 Southwest California Synod Assembly on June 4 - 5, voting members will elect a new bishop. The Southwest California Synod Constitution and the latest edition of the ELCA’s Guidelines for Synod Bishop Elections provide instructions for conducting this process.

The Synod’s Committee for a Bishop’s Election, selected by the Synod Council, has reviewed the ELCA Guidelines and is following its recommendations. The ELCA Churchwide Office – in its collection of procedures and practices across the country preceding a Bishop’s election – strongly recommends that Synods initiate, as they enter their transition year, a formal review of their state-of-affairs. This assessment of the Synod’s capacity, its ability to provide guidance, direction and assistance provides for a greater appreciation of the challenges that lie ahead for any incoming Bishop and Synod Council.

The Southwest California Synod began its transition period in July 2020 with the creation of a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) review of its practices, activities and mutual ministries with and among the conferences, congregations and congregants. The results are linked here.

By action of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2009, “background checks and screening shall be required and completed for persons nominated as synodical officers prior to their election, if possible, or as soon as practical after their election.” (S9.12) The Committee will oversee this constitutional provision so that these background checks are completed for all those pre-nominated by the time of the Synod Assembly.

The first ballot of the election process during the Assembly will be the nominating ballot. In order to be elected as bishop, a candidate will need to receive three-fourths of all legal ballots cast in this ballot. Those who have been lifted up as candidates during the pre-nomination period, as well as any other qualified candidate, can be nominated on this first ballot. Any person nominated on the first ballot may withdraw their name from further consideration. Those who desire to move ahead in the election process and have not been pre-nominated will be required to complete the biographical information form before having their name placed on the second ballot.

Please note the following from the SWCA Synod Constitution regarding the percentage of ballots cast necessary to elect a bishop.

S9.04.01.  The procedure to elect a bishop shall be as follows. 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 cast 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 legal votes cast shall be necessary for election. The fourth ballot shall be limited to the four persons (plus ties) who received the greatest number of legal votes on the third ballot, and 60 percent of the legal votes cast shall be necessary for election. The fifth ballot shall be limited to the three persons (plus ties) who received the greatest number of legal votes on the fourth ballot, and a majority of the legal votes cast shall be necessary for election. The sixth ballot shall be limited to the two persons (plus ties) who received the greatest number of legal votes on the previous ballot, and a majority of the legal votes cast shall constitute an election.

Information regarding pre-nominated candidates is available here.

We encourage you to be in prayerful reflection, preparation and discernment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as our Synod moves forward in the nomination and election process for a bishop of the Southwest California Synod.