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Area Lutherans choose bishop nominees

Nine pastors, including two former Grand Forks pastors and a current Hatton, N.D., pastor have been named as final nominees for the election to bishop of the Eastern North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The new bishop...

Nine pastors, including two former Grand Forks pastors and a

current Hatton, N.D., pastor have been named as final nominees for the election to bishop of the Eastern North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The new bishop will be selected at the synod's annual assembly April 5-6

in Fargo.

Bishop Rick Foss, who has been in office since 1992, is not eligible for

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re-election. Last summer, Foss came in a strong runner-up to the Rev.

Larry Wohlrabe in the election for bishop of the ELCA's Northwestern

Minnesota Synod. Foss was pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead

when he was elected in 1992 to move across the Red River.

The Synod, geographically comprising the eastern third of North Dakota,

has nearly 103,000 baptized members in 235 congregations and about 225

ordained ministers.

The ELCA is the single largest denomination in North Dakota and

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northwestern Minnesota, with a total of 277,000 baptized members in

three regional synods. (There are about 190,000 members of the three

Catholic dioceses in the same region.)

The bishop nomination process involved each congregation being allowed

to nominate up to three people by Dec. 27.

Jan. 27, representatives of each congregation met in eight regional, or

conference, meetings -- Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Grafton, Mayville,

Fargo, Carrington, Jamestown and Wapheton -- and narrowed the list to the

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top 47. Immediately, 21 withdrew, leaving 26, said the Rev. Lee Yarger,

assistant with the bishop in the synod office in Fargo. A nominating

committee was directed to narrow the list to seven, plus any ties, of

which there were two.

The list of nine finalists:

The Rev. Stephen Wold, pastor of Trinity Lutheran in Moorhead and former

pastor of Calvary Lutheran in Grand Forks, who was nominated by five of

the conferences; the Rev. Philip Blom, an interim pastor in Neenah,

Wis., and formerly a pastor in Grand Forks, nominated by two

conferences; the Rev. Harold (Chris) Hallanger, pastor of St. John and

Bethany in Hatton, N.D., also nominated by two conferences.

Nominated by six of the eight conferences were the Rev. Andrea

DeGroot-Nesdahl, former bishop in South Dakota, the Rev. Naomi Garber,

an assistant with the bishop in Fargo; and the Rev. Bruce Vold,

Carrington, N.D., and son of the Rev. Harold Vold, longtime Grand Forks

pastor.

Three Fargo pastors -- the Revs. Bill Rindy, First Lutheran, (five

conferences); Philip Larson, Bethany Homes; and Jeffrey Sandgren, Olivet

Lutheran; who each were picked by two conferences -- also were nominated.

From the nine, plus any floor nominations, the next bishop for the

synod will be chosen at the annual assembly April 5-6 in Fargo.

Reach Lee at (701) 780-1237 or at slee@gfherald.com .

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