BBC Graduation - On my way home

A week of BBC, aka Baby Bishop Camp, at the churchwide offices in Chicago and now I am on my way home.  Actually, I’m on my way to Camp Calumet to join 18 of our confirmation students for the last few days of Mountain Camp.  It looks like I have graduated from the BBC with honors, maybe even summa cum laude.

What does a bishop do?  I was asked this question by one of the 20 something members of our congregation last week.  At the time, I commented about providing leadership to the entire synod of 187 congregations and it’s various ministries.  Now that I’ve had four days of BBC, I thought I’d provide a new answer - a more thorough one.

Essentially, I learned that according to our church and synod constitution, the bishop is the Chief Executive Officer of the synod.  That sounds a little too business like for my tastes, but there is some truth to it.  A bishop is also a pastor, a teacher, a leader, a vision caster, an administrator, and the list goes on.   In the course of this week, we’ve covered the following, listed in no particular order:

Ecumenical relations and interreligious relations

Mission and Outreach



Constitution and Bylaws

Legal aspects of the synod and the church

Sexual misconduct


Communications and media

Biblical foundations of the office

Mission Advancement and financial support

Call process, mobility, candidacy

Conference of Bishops

Transitional planning from current call to Bishop

Plus an update on the Supreme Court ruling on Health Care and it’s implications for ELCA rostered leaders in the Portico health system

After these last few days, I’ve concluded that a bishop does not necessarily do everything, but the Office is responsible for everything.  I suppose in a similar but different way, that a parish pastor is not called to do everything, but is somehow responsible that everything is addressed.

I leave here with both confidence, as well as a much broader appreciation for the Office of the Bishop.  I am also sensing the weight of responsibility now, as one of 65 synod bishops across this country.

I have also learned some important perspectives about our New England Synod.  We are a healthy synod.  We have strong structures, good people, and an efficient operation.  Are we perfect?  Of course not, but then who could point to perfection in any facet of life.  But, we have a very strong foundation. I am grateful to Bishop Payne for her wise stewardship of the synod over these past twelve years.

 I’ve been trying to drink from a fire hydrant this past week, and I gotta tell you, I’ve taken in a lot, but there is a pretty big puddle all around the neighborhood as well.  But we’re getting there. It’ll be fine.

Off to Calumet.

As an fyi, the blog posts for the next week will be s few and far between, as I’ll be away with our High School youth on a mission trip.