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New bishops elected in historic virtual assemblies. Find out what the SOS is doing to be prepared.

North Dakota and South Carolina Synods welcome new bishops in historic virtual assemblies, paving the way for more over the next few months.

For many reasons, including state by-laws and synod constitutions, bishop elections in many synods could not be postponed, but with the help of online tools and lots of training of voting members, the work of the synods will be done! The first two synods to take the leap are North Dakota and South Carolina. You can read the official announcements below. The Southern Ohio Synod Council is investigating what the SOS needs to implement to allow us to hold an online assembly should it be necessary in the coming years. We already have language in our constitution to allow the council to meet and make decisions virtually. This language was added shortly after Bishop Dillahunt's first election. Bishop Dillahunt and the Executive Team of the council are working diligently to ensure we are prepared to continue the work of the synod regardless of what the future holds.

Does your constitution allow for your council/congregation to meet and make important decisions during times like these? Contact Pr. Bob Abrams ( to find out how you can update your constitution to make sure the work of your church can continue.

Our sisters and brothers in the Northeastern Ohio Synod will elect a new bishop in September. Please keep them in your prayers during this time of preparation.

The Rev. Craig A. Schweitzer, Bismarck, N.D., was elected July 17 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The election took place during an online synod assembly. An in-person synod gathering had been scheduled earlier in the spring, but concerns about COVID-19 led the Synod Council to move the gathering to an online format. Schweitzer is the first bishop in the ELCA to be elected in an online assembly.

Schweitzer was elected on the sixth ballot, with 165 votes. The Rev. Desireé Uhrich, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Minot, N.D., received 120 votes.

Pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck since 2014, Schweitzer served as the congregation’s associate pastor from 2010 to 2014 and as its worship and music minister from 2002 to 2010.

Schweitzer received a Master of Science in strategic leadership from the University of Mary in Bismarck in 2015. He holds a certificate degree from the Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) program at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif., and was ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament in 2010. Luther and Pacific Lutheran are two of seven ELCA seminaries. California Lutheran is one of 26 colleges and universities of the ELCA.

Schweitzer will assume office on or before September 1. His installation is scheduled for November 1.

The Rev. David B. Zellmer has served as interim bishop since February 2020. The Rev. Mark Narum served as bishop from 2008 to February 2020.

Information about the Western North Dakota Synod is available at


The Rev. Virginia S. Aebischer, Columbia, S.C., was elected July 25 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The election took place during an online synod assembly.

Aebischer was elected on the fifth ballot, with 280 votes. The Rev. Jacqueline Utley, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in Columbia, received 211 votes.

The bishop-elect has served as assistant to the bishop since 2008. She served as pastor of Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church in West Columbia, S.C., from 2001 to 2008, and as pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Charleston, S.C., from 1989 to 2001.

Aebischer received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Upsala College in 1983 and a Master of Divinity degree from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, in Columbia, in 1989. Upsala College was a Lutheran college in East Orange, N.J. Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary is one of seven ELCA seminaries.

Aebischer will take office on September 1. Her installation is scheduled for September 19.

The Rev. Herman Yoos has served as bishop of the South Carolina Synod since 2008 and will retire August 31.

Information about the South Carolina Synod is available at



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