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Minnesota bishop re-elected

With an overwhelming majority, the Rev. Larry Wohlrabe was re-elected to a second six-year term over the weekend as bishop of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Wohlrabe, 58, is the first bishop re-elected in the 25-year-old synod, one of the largest in terms of congregations in the 4.1-million-member ELCA which has about 10,000 congregations.

It was a vote of confidence for a bishop during times of turmoil that included the conviction of the synod’s bookkeeper for embezzlement and the loss of 10 percent of the synod’s congregations.

About 550 voting members and guests attended the synod’s annual assembly Friday through Sunday at Concordia College in Moorhead.

Wohlrabe received 88 percent of the vote, said the Rev. Sonja Brucklacher of East Grand Forks, one of the voting members. Her figures were confirmed by a synod official Monday.

“Then he received a standing ovation,” Brucklacher said.

Wohlrabe said Monday he sees it as another call to service, not just an election.

“God is faithful, God’s people in our synod have been faithful,” Wohlrabe said. “Although bishops get to see both the church at its worst and the church at its best … I believe that the Northwestern Minnesota Synod turned a corner and is heading into a hope-filled future, serving God’s mission in the world.”

The synod lost about 10 percent of its congregations over the past four years, mostly over the ELCA’s 2009 decision to allow people in same-sex relationships to serve as pastors, Wohlrabe said.

In other business, the assembly voted to seek ELCA approval to reduce the share of giving it passes on to the national church’s Chicago offices, from 51 percent to 47 percent by 2016.

Article written by Stephen J. Lee of the Forum News Service

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