ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 3, 2011
Jessica Crist elected chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Montana Synod, Great Falls, Mont., was elected Oct. 1 to serve as chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops. Crist, who will serve a four-year term, is the first female synod bishop ever to hold this position.
In response to her election, Crist said she has "great hope for the future of the church and respect for the many fine lay and clergy leaders who serve us."
Crist succeeds the Rev. Allan C. Bjornberg, bishop of the ELCA Rocky Mountain Synod, Denver. The Rev. Michael L. Burk, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod, Iowa City, Iowa, was elected vice chair.
The ELCA Conference of Bishops is an advisory body of this church that includes the ELCA's 65 synod bishops, presiding bishop and secretary. It is meeting here Sept. 29-Oct. 4.
"Bishop Crist's election as chair of the Conference of Bishops reflects the great confidence the bishops have in her leadership," said ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson.
"She is highly respected for her clear proclamation of the gospel, her attentive listening to ELCA leaders and members, her collaborative approach to leadership and her passion for being engaged in God's mission for the life of the world," Hanson said. "She will lead the Conference of Bishops with a commitment to all voices being heard and our contribution to the life and work of the whole ELCA. It will be an honor to serve with her."
Born in Harrisburg, Pa., Crist earned a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Yale University, New Haven, Conn., and a master of divinity degree in parish ministry from Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. She was ordained in 1979 in the former Lutheran Church in America and served as pastor of University Lutheran Church, Cambridge, and First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Great Falls.
Crist was elected bishop of the Montana Synod in 2007. Prior to that role, she served as associate to the synod bishop for five years and director of the Northern Rockies Institute of Theology for 18 years. Crist served on the transition team that formed the Montana Synod from the ELCA's predecessor churches and was elected secretary of the synod at its constituting convention in 1987. She served as synod secretary for 12 years.
Crist currently serves on the board of directors for the Montana Association of Churches, Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and Lutheran World Relief based in Baltimore. She writes a monthly column for Montana Woman Magazine.
Crist is a member of the ELCA Task Force on Communal Discernment, the Conference of Bishops' Liaison Committee for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations and its Domestic Ready Bench. She is an ELCA delegate to the National Council of Churches and represented the Lutheran World Federation at the Global Christian Forum.
Crist and her husband, Turner C. Graybill, are parents of two adult children.
The ELCA Montana Synod has 38,000 baptized members in 130 congregations, including five congregations in Wyoming. The synod office is in Great Falls.
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Information about the ELCA Montana Synod is available at http://www.montanasynod.org/ on the Web.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with approximately 4.5 million members in more than 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com