Northern Province PEC President Betsy Miller addresses Synod 2010

On Saturday night, Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, the newly elected president of the Northern Province Provincial Elders’ Council (PEC), addressed the 2010 Synod of the Moravian Church Northern Province.

Betsy is the first woman elected president of the Moravian Church Northern Province PEC.  To read more, see article below.

J. Christian Giesler elected bishop, Moravian Church Northern Province

Rev. J. Christian Giesler, currently pastor of Edgeboro Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was elected bishop of the Moravian Church at the Northern Province 2010 Synod today. Upon his election, the nearly 300 delegates cheered, congratulated him and sang a hymn of celebration.

Rev. Chris Giesler (center) is congratulated by Moravian Bishops Kay Ward (left), Doug Kleintop and Paul Graf following his election to bishop on Monday.

“I am honored to be chosen for this opportunity to serve the church,” said Giesler, “and I am blessed to have such a wonderful church to serve.”

Rev. Giesler, a 1983 graduate of Moravian College and 1986 graduate of Moravian Theological Seminary, has served congregations in both the Northern and Southern Provinces, including Bethesda Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. and Redeemer Moravian Church in Richmond, Va.  Rev. Giesler also served as chaplain for Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem.  In addition to his role as pastor at Edgeboro, Chris directs the Youth Ministry Office of the Moravian Church Northern Province Eastern District.

Provincial Elders’ Conference elected at 2010 Moravian Church Northern Province Synod

Delegates of the Moravian Church, Northern Province elected four lay representatives to the Provincial Elders’ Conference, the Province’s highest governing board, providing administrative leadership to congregations and program agencies. The elections took place during the 41st Provincial Synod held at Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

New lay members of the PEC include Thomas Zimmer of Unionville, Mich., a member Unionville Moravian Church; Judy Kaaua of Victoria, Minn., a member of Lake Auburn Moravian Church; and Wilton Grannum, Brooklyn, N.Y. of John Hus Moravian Church. Jill Westbrook of New Philadelphia, Ohio, a member of Sharon Moravian Church and current member of the PEC, was re-elected.  PEC lay members are elected to a four-year term.

The new lay members join clergy representatives Rev. David Bennett, president, Moravian Church Nothern Province Eastern District; Rev. James Hicks, president, Moravian Church, Northern Province Western District; Rev. Stephen Gohdes, president, Moravian Church, Northern Province, Canadian District and Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, the newly elected PEC president.

2010 PEC Members include (left to right) Wilton Grannum, Rev. David Bennett, Jill Westbrook, Rev. James Hicks, Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller (president), Rev. Steve Gohdes, Judy Kaaua and Tom Zimmer.

Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller elected president of Provincial Elders’ Conference

Rev. Dave Wickmann congratulates Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, who will succeed him as president, Provincial Elders' Conference, Moravian Church Northern Province

Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller of Lake Mills, Wis., was elected president of the Provincial Elders’ Conference (PEC) of the Moravian Church Northern Province at the Province’s 2010 Synod in Bethlehem, Pa. on Saturday. Rev. Miller is the first woman to be elected to this position in the history of the Northern Province.

Delegates pray for guidance during prior to voting in the seventh ballot for PEC president.

The PEC is the highest governing board of the Moravian Church, Northern Province, providing administrative leadership to congregations and program agencies. Rev. Miller was elected to a four-year term, succeeding Rev. David L. Wickmann, who leaves the post after eight years.  She will assume her role later this summer.

“I’m overwhelmed, honored and humbled to be elected to this position,” said Rev. Miller upon her election.  “I look forward to working as partners with our elders, the Northern Province and the entire Moravian Church.”  (Ed Note: Watch for Rev. Miller’s installation speech later this weekend).

Synod delegates vote during the balloting on Saturday.

Prior to her most recent role as director of Congregational Leadership and Resources for the Western District of the Moravian Church, Northern Province, Rev. Miller served as co-pastor (1985-95) and pastor (1995-2005) of Lake Mills Moravian Church. She also serves a chair of the Church’s Task Force for Healthy Congregations Initiative; secretary of the Wisconsin Council of Churches; and chair of Fort HealthCare, an independent community hospital in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

Rev. Miller was ordained in 1985.  During the past five years, she earned a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) in Congregational Mission and Leadership.

Synod Tellers count ballots for the PEC President election on Saturday.

Betsy was elected on the third day of the Moravian Church, Northern Province’s 2010 Synod, which continues at Moravian College until Monday, June 21.

Moravian Church Northern Province enters full communion with Episcopal Church

Moravian Church Northern Province Synod 2010 delegates sing hymns of celebration following the adoption of the full communion with the Episocpal Church (photo by Mike Riess)

Today, delegates of the Moravian Church, Northern Province voted to bring their Province into a relationship of full communion with the Episcopal Church.  The proposal, brought to the floor of the Northern Province’s 2010 Synod held at Moravian College in Bethlehem this week, was approved by voice vote.

Bishop Steven Miller (photo by Kat Lehman)

“What a great and glorious day,” said Steven Miller, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee and co-chair of the dialogue.  “In a world that wants to divide us more and more, we are called to unity.  We look forward to new and deeper relationships across our churches as we continue to work together to witness the true unity of God through the Church of Jesus Christ.”

“This is an important day in the life of our churches,” said David L. Wickmann, president, Provincial Elders’ Conference, Moravian Church, Northern Province. “This communion means our Church has the opportunity to engage with one of our historic partners in a more complete and meaningful way.”

The communion of the Moravian Church, Northern Province and the Episcopal Church brings a greater unity to the Christian church.  “We seek this relationship of full communion so that our mission as Christ’s church will be more effectively fulfilled and each of our denominations might be more complete because of the spiritual treasures of the other,” reads Finding Our Delight in the Lord: A Proposal for Full Communion Between the Episcopal Church; the Moravian Church Northern Province; and the Moravian Church, Southern Province. “We do this for the sake of the world so that the world may believe.”

In pursuing full communion with another church, both denominations remain faithful to Christ’s will for his church.  On the night before he died, our Lord Jesus prayed, “…that they may all be one.  As you, Father, are in me, and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21 NRSV)

Full communion is not a merger. There will still be differences between the denominations, just as there are differences in individual churches, provinces and dioceses of any denomination.  Current differences in structure, doctrine, liturgy and positions on social and ethical issues may require each church to speak for itself at times.

This communion maintains what makes each denomination special or unique to its members; it is about the unity of Christ’s church, not the uniformity of practice. The two will mutually recognize and respect each other as part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church, which affirms its faith through the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.

In addition to the unity of Christ’s church, full communion provides for the sharing of ministry.  With this agreement, ordained clergy in each denomination will be able to serve in the other, allowing for the orderly interchange of ordained ministers, joint worship and the celebration of Holy Communion.

On a practical level, the full communion provides opportunities to share resources and mission work.  Full communion agreements bring mutual cooperation and laboring together in mission work, church planting, clergy education, disaster relief and other areas of common endeavors.  The communion also offers opportunities to enhance the life and ministry of local congregations.

The Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of their full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Episcopal Church also has full communion with the ELCA.  This is the first time three denominations have come to full communion agreements on their own.

The full communion is the result of many years of work between the two churches.  It was first proposed in 1999.  Since then, ecumenical representatives from both denominations worked to reach the accord.  The 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, meeting July 8-17, 2009, adopted Finding Our Delight in the Lord unanimously.  Following the Northern Province Synod this week, the proposal is expected to be taken up by the Moravian Church-Southern Province at their Synod in September.

Read the Episcopal Church release here.

Northern Province Synod convenes

Photos from the first day of the Moravian Church Northern Province Synod 2010

Rick Santee, chair of the Northern Province Synod, opens the gathering on Thursday.  Br. Santee will officiate the business of the five-day legislative event.

Dr. Christopher Thomforde

Dr. Christopher Thomforde, President of Moravian College, welcomes delegates to the 2010 Synod being held on the Moravian campus.

PEC President Rev. David Wickmann addresses Synod

Provincial Elders’ Conference President Rev. David L. Wickmann addressed the opening of Synod with a “State of the Church” address.  Watch future posts for more information from Rev. Wickmann’s address.

Delegates at the 2010 Northern Province Synod cast votes in the initial balloting for Provincial Elders’ Conference President.  This initial vote occurs with no nomination or campaigning; the election balloting will continue throughout Synod until one candidate receives two-thirds of the vote.

At the conclusion of the first day of the Northern Provinces 2010 Synod, delegates and guests attended a dinner hosted at East Hills Moravian Church in Bethlehem.  During dinner, attendees studied Paul’s Letter the Philippians 3:7-16.

Prayers, song open 2010 Northern Province Synod

Nearly 300 delegates from Moravian congregations throughout the northern United States and Canada began their work determining issues important to the life and ministry of the Church in a truly Moravian way — with prayer and song.

As part of the opening of the Moravian Church Northern Province’s 2010 Synod on June 17, delegates worshiped together in Johnston Hall on the campus of Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  In leading the worship, Bishop C. Hopeton Clennon, who also serves as chaplain for Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary, cited the Synods’ theme: “Reaching Forward, Pressing On.”

Bishop C. Hopeton Clennon delivers the sermon

“Spiritual Growth is all about loving God more and loving people more,” said Bishop Clennon.  “We celebrate signs of new life and well-being across the Northern Province.  It is such a gift to simply trust God.  May we be bold these five days, and view things from the perspective of eternity.”

The opening worship included hymns and songs, a traditional trombone choir, communion and prayers for the upcoming Synod.