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Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries

Hanson Re-elected Saint Paul Area Synod Bishop

April 21, 2001


SAINT PAUL, MN-The Rev. Mark S. Hanson was re-elected to a second term as bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) during the synod assembly held at Concordia University, Apr. 20-21. Hanson, 54, was elected on the third ballot. Other candidates included the Rev. Connie McCallister, Royal Redeemer Lutheran Church, St. Paul, and the Rev. Joel Bexell, St. Luke Lutheran Church, Cottage Grove.

Prior to his election as bishop in 1995, Hanson served Prince of Glory Lutheran Church and University Lutheran Church of Hope, Minneapolis, and Edina Community Lutheran Church, Edina.

A graduate of Augsburg College and Union Theological Seminary, New York, Hanson attended Luther Seminary and was a Merrill Fellow at Harvard University Divinity School. He served as president of the Minnesota Council of Churches for two years and presently serves as vice chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops. He is a member of the board of regents of Augsburg College and of the board of directors of Common Bond Communities.

He and his wife Ione Agrimson Hanson, director of social work for Children's Hospitals, Minneapolis and St. Paul, have six children and one grandchild. They live in Minneapolis.

In other business, the assembly passed resolutions to support "Stand with Africa," a campaign of the ELCA Hunger Program and Lutheran World Relief that supports African churches and communities in their fight against HIV/AIDS and hunger; to develop congregational responses to global warming; and to ask the 2001 ELCA churchwide assembly to make constitutional revisions that would allow for the installation of bishops outside the Historic Episcopate and the ordination of pastors by bishops or other pastors.

Two resolutions related to the ordination of gay and lesbian persons living in committed relationships were also adopted. The first supports the call and ordination of Anita Hill as pastor of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, St. Paul, and encourages the bishop and the synod council to retain the congregation in the ELCA by delaying action to censure, suspend, or expel. The second asks the 2001 ELCA churchwide assembly to request that the church council amend governing documents that make gay and lesbian persons living in committed relationships ineligible for ordination and to give synod bishops the power to consider exceptions to the ELCA's established ordination practices regarding lesbian and gay clergy until such changes are implemented.

St. James Lutheran Church, Burnsville, was honored by Lutheran Social Service Minnesota for its work with Rezek House, a new transitional housing facility for homeless youth in St. Paul, and the Erdahl Mission Fund awards - named to honor Saint Paul Area Synod Bishop Emeritus Lowell Erdahl - were presented to Faith Chinese Fellowship, Hmong Central Lutheran Church, and Twin Cities Lutheran Campus Ministry.

The Saint Paul Area Synod is one of 65 synods in the ELCA and includes 120 congregations with some 165,000 members in Anoka, Chisago, Dakota, Ramsey, and Washington counties.

For more information: Beth Helgen, Communications Director, 952-927-0232