[Episcopal News Service]
Bishop Mark S. Hanson, elected presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at the August Churchwide Assembly, addressed some 400 members of the national staff at the church headquarters in Chicago, telling them that he comes to his new position 'with deep gratitude to God because we have a God who is faithful to God's promise.'
The ELCA is a church with 'a sense of urgency for God's mission, not a sense of anxiety,' Hanson said. He said that people in today's society are searching for meaning and hope. 'We know something about the bread that satisfies that hunger. It is Jesus the Christ, the bread of life.'
Hanson said that the membership of the ELCA must become more diverse, reflecting the culture in which it serves, or its importance may be greatly diminished. He also expressed a hope that the church's 5.1 million members can, with communication and clarification, bridge the gap with the national office.
'I am coming to a position where the church has articulated its priorities as evangelical witness, the ending of poverty and the raising up of leaderships,' he added. 'I hope to bring a sense of urgency for mission, but also a willingness to listen.'
Hanson will be installed October 6 at Rockefeller Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago and will assume his position November 1. Among invited guests are the leaders of the five churches with which the ELCA has a full communion relationship-the Episcopal Church, Moravian Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ. He will be the first Lutheran bishop installed into the 'historic episcopate,' one of the major provisions of the Called to Common Mission agreement with the Episcopalians. Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold will participate in the installation.