During the 2021 Southwest California Synod Assembly on June 4 - 5, voting members will elect a new bishop. The 2021 Committee for a Bishop's Election now calls upon members and congregations of this synod to prayerfully consider qualified candidates for this position and Call, and additionally for qualified candidates to discern if they may be Called to this position of stewardship, guidance, and leadership.

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. Constitution section S9.04 on the nomination and election process is linked for your reference, as well as Questions and Answers about the 2021 SWCA Synod Bishop's Election.

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 below. The Conferences of the SWCA Synod are in the process of producing their supplemental SWOT reports, which will be added to the linked page as they are completed.

Candidates for Bishop must be ordained pastors of the ELCA. Those who are pre-nominated, either by others or by themselves, will be asked to complete a biographical information form that has been prepared by the Committee. 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.

Any member of a congregation of this Synod may submit to the Synod office the name of any person they wish to pre-nominate as a candidate for bishop by using this form. Please check and make sure you have received a confirmation email after submitting the form; you can also contact Samantha Henderson at shenderson@socalsynod.org to ensure the nomination has been received and if you have any questions. Pre-nominations are open now through March 26, 2021. Biographical information and consent forms will then be sent to those pre-nominated. Qualified candidates who are rostered in the SWCA Synod may nominate themselves, and the Biographical Information Form should be used for self-nomination (please download the fillable PDF and email, once complete, to shenderson@socalsynod.org).

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 pre-nominated, 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. The background check and screening will be conducted as soon as possible if such a person is elected.

Information regarding pre-nominated candidates, as well as additional information about the election process at the Assembly, will be made available to voting members as well as to the synod at large.

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.

In Christ,

The Committee for a Bishop’s Election