At our District Synod in June, delegates learned through my official Bishop’s report that I have declared that I will not be seeking re-election at the 2021 Synod, when my second term as bishop ends. The forum of the Convention gave me the opportunity to explain to the people of our Church that the sole reason for not standing for a third term, was my intention to highlight our need for younger pastors to step into leadership roles in our Synod.
To make this point to Convention delegates during the time of my report on the Saturday of District Synod, I asked all the pastors to stand up, then progressively asked them to be seated in “bands”: first those 70 and over, then those 60 and over, then those 50 and over, then those 40 and over. It was very clear that we have only a few pastors serving who are in their 20s and 30s.
Knowing that we will be having an election for a Queensland District Bishop in two years, I would like to encourage the communities of our District to take this as an opportunity to gather the voice of younger Lutherans into the work of our Synod gathered in Convention. I encourage the local delegates of our District to consider joining me in the journey of stepping aside in two years, and raising up younger delegates to represent the people.
Next year, at the Toowoomba Synod, I invite the regular delegates of our communities to plan to bring a younger person along with them to the synod as a “guest” so that the younger person might, “learn the ropes” of being a delegate. Then, for the Synod in 2021, I encourage the communities of our Church to send the younger person as THE actual delegate where they will take part in voting for their new bishop.
I don’t write this as a “law” for the Church. I write this as a strategy to make the most of a key marker in this history of our Church, which is the election of a bishop. I believe that this strategy might certainly help to engage younger people in the life and work of the synodical structures of the LCAQD.
It is an ongoing privilege and joy to serve in this calling for the sake of the Gospel. The Lord has promised that he will build his Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. In the role of bishop, I have the opportunity to see the hand of God at work in and through the ordinary women and men of the Church, being salt and light in their communities, being ‘little Christs’ to each other and to people who do not know the grace of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the deep joy of serving as the bishop of our Church like ours.
“For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures …” (1 Cor 15)