May 16, 2018

Historic Bishop Elections: ‘There is Room at the Table’

“I came into the church during an era of ‘You’re welcome to come, but leave your baggage and all of your gifts, all the things you bring, at the door,’ ” Bishop-elect Patricia A. Davenport tells Living Lutheran magazine for a profile of the ELCA’s first two African-American woman bishops. “So this (election) says to me, ‘You have gifts, bring them, share them with all.’ ”

The article profiles Davenport and the Rev. Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, elected the following day in the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin.

“God loves each of us. If we remember that, then we know how we need to respond to one another,” Thomas-Breitfeld said. In the face of categorizations such as race and gender that the world deems important, she said, what truly matters is remembering that “we are named and claimed by God. If God claims us, then we need to claim each other.”

Davenport echoed that sentiment. For her, the elections signify a tangible path forward for intentional inclusion. “For those who have not found their place at the table, we get to say, ‘Look, see, there is room at the table for you,’ ” she said. “This is not the end, this is the beginning.”

Bishops-elect Davenport and Thomas-Breitfeld