The North American Lutheran Church will consider the possibility of adding regional bishops to better serve congregations and to enable congregations to carry out the mission of the Church.
The proposal from the NALC Structure Task Force was presented for discussion to the NALC Pastors Conference by Brian Sutton, chair of the task force and a member of the NALC Executive Council.
The proposal is not seeking to add an additional layer of structure to the NALC. Rather, the hope is that regional bishops will provide greater accessibility to assistance and guidance for congregations and a quicker response time from NALC staff. It is also hoped that the regional bishops will assist congregations and Mission Districts to engage in mission.
The preliminary proposal suggests dividing North America into four geographic regions with a bishop in each region.
In addition to creating regions and adding regional bishops, the structure proposal recommends that Mission Districts be about 10 to 12 congregations per Mission District. This sizing would enable mission, including support for congregations and pastors and cooperation in local mission efforts. It would also reduce the workload for deans in larger Mission Districts.
The growth of the NALC has made it difficult for Bishop John Bradosky and other NALC staff to provide the level of support to congregations that is desired by congregations and by the NALC’s leadership. The bishop has had an overwhelming travel schedule — sometimes going for nearly 30 days at a time without a stop at his home. This sort of pace is unsustainable and not desired for future bishops.
The 2018 NALC Convocation will consider the proposal and the funding necessary to add the new positions. The hope is that the new structure will be in place by 2019 when the NALC will elect a new bishop. The regional bishops will be appointed by the new bishop and approved by the Executive Council and Convocation. Because they will be appointed staff positions, no constitutional changes are required. If approved, the regional bishops will be added as funding is available and may begin as part time.
The plan has been approved by the NALC Executive Council and endorsed by the Deans of NALC Mission Districts.
Sutton explained that the proposal would be “a lean responsive structure” that would provide “a sustainable, scalable, effective structure” and “enable pursuit of the Great Commission without constraint.” He also said that it would result in “a healthier lifestyle for staff” and in “consistent adherence” to the NALC’s four Core Values.
To access video of this presentation, please visit: Presentation at NALC Pastors Conference.