Synod Transition

Here you will find information and forms from the Allegheny Synod Transition Team on the upcoming election for Synod Bishop

The call and voting process at the Synod Assembly

The call of a bishop has its own process and structure. A Bishop is called through a process called ecclesiastical balloting. It is a specific process which is laid out in the constitution of the ELCA.


The election and call of the Bishop will be overseen by a representative from the senior staff of the ELCA Churchwide Offices. You may remember in 2014, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton presided over our Allegheny Synod election. We will learn The ELCA will notify us in December who will be with us for the election.


The process of calling the Bishop can take up to five separate ballots. At After each ballot, if a candidate receives a certain percentage of the vote, they are elected. The threshold for ballot percentage decreases with each vote after the second vote.

The Transition Team has some flexibility as to whether they would have the candidates give short speeches or answer questions at different points in the process.


First Ballot: The work of calling the Bishop begins with the first ballot also known as the nominating ballot. This is an open ballot where all voting members of the Assembly can write in the name of a Rostered Minister in the ELCA they believe God is calling to be the next bishop. Any ELCA pastor can be nominated to serve as Bishop.  If any candidate received 75% of the vote on this nominating ballot, they are elected Bishop. The counters tabulate the results of the first ballot and the list of all those receiving votes is published. If no one receives 75% we move forward.


After the results of the first ballot are revealed, those nominated have an opportunity to take their name off the ballot. If a pastor does not wish to allow their name to go forward, they must complete a form which requests their removal from the process.


Second Ballot: Those pastors who do not remove their names from consideration will appear on the second ballot and the Assembly will vote on that slate of candidates. If a candidate receives 75% of the vote on the second ballot they are elected Bishop. If no one receives 75% of the vote, then the top seven vote-getters move forward to the third ballot.


Third Ballot: Before the third ballot, our practice in the Allegheny Synod has been that those seven pastors are given an opportunity to address the Assembly. Usually, the participants draw a number to determine order of their presentation. These are short speeches of five minutes of less.


After the addresses to the Assembly, the third ballot will be taken. If a candidate receives two thirds of the votes they are elected Bishop. If there is no election the top three move on to the forth ballot.

Fourth Ballot: In 2014, before the Fourth Ballot the top three were given an opportunity to respond to questions. The candidates were given the same three questions for which to prepare. They were also asked three questions which they did not have an opportunity to prepare. Each candidate took turns responding to the question. Candidates rotated who would respond first, second, or third.


After the questions, the Fourth Ballot is taken. If a candidate receives 60% of the votes on the Fourth Ballot they are elected Bishop. If there is no election the top two move on to the Fifth Ballot.

Fifth Ballot: There is some variety in how Synods handle the Fifth Ballot. Some Synods take a time for prayer, reflection and discernment. Some invite candidates to give a longer speech to the Synod. Some Synods move straight to the balloting. How that will be handled will be prayerfully discerned by the Transition Team.

The candidate receiving the majority of the votes on the Fifth Ballot is elected Bishop.

Bishop Election Process
Click HERE for the Bishop Election Process documents.

2021 ELCA Election Toolkit for Synod Bishop Elections
Click HERE for the Bishop Election Process documents.


Election Forms

Biographical Information Form for Candidates
Authorization and Release From for Background Checks and Screening

Disclosure From for Nominees

Request for Withdrawal from Ballot of Bishop

Bishop's Job Description

Click HERE to read a partial description of duties for our Synod Bishop



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