On Saturday, October 19, the Rev. Yehiel Curry will be installed as Bishop of the Metro Chicago Synod by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. The installation service will be at 2:00 p.m. at the Tinley Park Convention Center, 18451 Convention Center Dr, Tinley Park. All are invited and encouraged to join in this festive worship service.

Bishop Curry was elected on June 18 and began his service as Synod bishop September 1.  His service will include the installation of our new pastor,  David Elliott on Sunday,  December 1, 2019.

The bishop served as pastor of Shekinah Chapel Lutheran Church in Riverdale since 2013 and as mission developer of Shekinah from 2007 to 2012.  Pastor Curry received a Bachelor of Arts from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois in 1995 and a Master of Dignity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 2013.  Bishop Curry and his wife, Lashonda Hicks Curry are parents of three adult daughters.

The 2007 Lund Statement by the Lutheran World Federation entitled “Episcopal Ministry within the Apostolicity of the Church provides us with a history of the church’s office of bishop.

The responsibility of the bishop, the document states,  dates to the New Testament reflecting  “concerns with ecclesial structures and leadership.”   The title episcope  in the New Testament comes from the Greek word referring to both God’s vision and an ecclesial task. The term episkopos is found five times in the New Testament and in First Peter (2:25) Christ is described as shepherd and bishop of our souls.The New Testament and the Pastoral Letters seek a faithful transmission of the gospel teaching and an orderly conferment of ecclesial offices.  This orderly conferment was necessitated because of a perceived threat to the teachings of Jesus.  Thus the office of bishop within the church was created. The pre-Nicene early church conferred upon the bishop the primary responsibility of presiding at the eucharist.  In addition, the bishop was the primary teacher of the faith when gnosticism was one of the greatest threats to the church’s teachings.  Faithful proclamation of the gospel by the bishop preserved the church.

In addition, the bishop represented bonds of unity between local churches, a unity accomplished through the maintenance of eucharistic communion.  This remained the primary responsibility of bishops through the Middle Ages.

The Reformation brought changes to the office of the bishop.  The Augsburg Confession gave ministerial authority to all believers. As Luther said we, the church are a “priesthood of believers,” and all Christians are equal before God, there is no distinction of class or estate.

Ordination singled out in a pastor the responsibility to preach, baptize and administer the eucharist properly.   The work of a pastor is clarified in  The Apology to the Confessio Augustana  “When [the ministers] offer the Word of Christ or the sacraments, they offer them in the stead and place of Christ. The words of Christ teach us this so that we are not offended by the unworthiness of ministers.”

In the 16th century, diocesan bishops in the Holy Roman Empire were generally unwilling to ordain those who followed the Reformation, so reformers taught that in emergencies, congregations could ordain pastors by prayer and laying on of hands. “The Reformation theology of ministry is summarized in the Wittenberg ordination formula: “The ministry of the church is most important and necessary for all churches, and is given and preserved by God alone.”  The church according to Luther is any and everywhere the “gospel is taught purely and the sacraments are administered rightly.”

Bishop Curry’s responsibility is extensive and is outlined in the Synod Constitution: He is to “preach, teach, and administer the sacraments in accord with the Confession of Faith, provide pastoral care and leadership for the Synod, its congregation and its ministers; exercise solely this church’s power to ordain approved candidates, attest letters of call, install rostered ministers and exercise leadership in the mission of this church.”

Remember in your daily prayers our new Bishop Curry, attend his installation on October 19 and welcome him to Lutheran Church of the Master when he installs our new Pastor, David Elliot on December 1.