It was no surprise to the Profile Team that the Bishop’s personal schedule is filled beyond capacity. But what did come as a surprise was the significant quantity of ecclesiastical duties and activities that are assigned to the Bishop specifically, not to his or her office. These duties are either mandated by the Synod Constitution or directed by the ELCA.
The list includes:
- Three National Bishop’s Meetings per year
- Synod Council work and meetings
- The Professional Leaders’ Conference
- Conference Deans’ Meetings
- Crisis and Conflict Response
- Synod Assembly preparation and participation
- Requests to serve the larger Church
- Region 2 consultations
- Region 2 mobility Conferences
- Chief Ecumenical Officer of the Synod
You will note, as the Team did, that this list does not include additional travel time, personalstudy, prayer and sermon preparation time, continuing education, visits to congregations, serving as a pastor to the pastors, church anniversary visits, working with various Synod groups, working with the call process, routine administrative tasks, and time spent with the staff. If the Bishop were to visit each congregation on a Sunday it would take at least four years, not counting any conflicting Sunday activities.
There are many other functions and activities assigned to the office of the Bishop and not to the Bishop personally.
Fulfilling just the mandated duties and activities, including travel time, can absorb approximately 50 to 70 percent of the Bishop’s time. This may vary somewhat from Bishop to Bishop, depending on how much time is devoted to church crises and conflicts. And this does not take into consideration normal administrative tasks and other travel.
What do you think should be the priorities of the Bishop’s time, especially in light of the ecclesiastical duties and activities specific to the Bishop?
As you think about the work of the Synod, what functions and activities do you think should be handled by the Bishop personally?