The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is one of the country’s largest Christian denominations. It just held elections for new bishops, choosing a record six women to serve in that role. One of them, Rev. Susan Briner from New Braunfels, will be the first woman to serve as bishop for congregations in southwestern Texas. In fact, she’s the first woman in the denomination to represent any part of the southern U.S.
Election of these women is significant, especially with it happening in the midst of the #MeToo movement and another round of scandals for the Catholic Church.
“It is a challenge for the whole church when clergy misbehave and it’s covered up,” Briner says. “I think that a lot of lay folks are sick of it and are looking for change.”
Briner says the newly elected women may be a welcome change for congregants. She say she believes women tend to lead in more collaborative and cooperative ways, and the church is “desperate” for that right now. She says it wants “leaders who can build bridges rather than walls.”
Briner will be ordained on Sept. 1, and will soon oversee 130 congregations, up from just one.
Moving forward, she says her mission is to help people connect with God in their day-to-day lives.
“That involves caring for those who are the most vulnerable, those on the margins,” she says. “People really, really need to hear that message of grace and forgiveness.”
Written by Morgan Kuehler.