Over the past year, I have worked alongside my bishop colleagues in Region 9 to utilize our position to address systemic issues facing women rostered ministers. Guided by the work of a core team of women rostered ministers serving on bishops’ staffs throughout Region 9, including Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick, Assistant to the Bishop in our Synod, in May 2019 all Region 9 bishops gathered to continue work on a “Bishops’ Relational Agreement for Candidacy, Call Process, and Boundaries.”
We are thankful that in July 2019 this agreement was adopted and we are eager to share it now with leaders throughout the region. On this day when we celebrate the Reformation, we continue to be reformed by the Holy Spirit. I give thanks for the work of women leaders, including women rostered ministers in the ELCA, who have always been partners in the Reformation.
When the social statement “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action” passed at the recent ELCA Churchwide Assembly, it was accompanied by implementing resolutions. This Bishops’ Relational Agreement and our work together in Region 9 to improve protocols for candidacy, call process, and boundaries training is a very clear way that we are living into this call for action as we strive to be a church of gender-equitable leadership.
Please read the attached press release and Bishops’ Relational Agreement, which is a dynamic document which will be reviewed, adapted, and affirmed annually in July. Join me in praying for the Spirit’s continued reforming presence in our region and throughout this church. ‘Thus says the Lord, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”’ (Isaiah 43.19)
The commitments identified in this document are only a beginning of the work we have the privilege of sharing. I believe this is a wonderful example of how our FAITHFUL + BOLD + SERVING God inspires, calls and empowers us to follow Jesus in like manner. Thanks be to God for the remarkable leadership of the Region 9 Women in Ministry Core Team! Let the Reformation continue!
The Rev. Robert F. Humphrey
Virginia Synod, ELCA