We have a new bishop. The Rev. Yehiel Curry was elected on June 8 to serve for six years as Bishop of the MetroChicago Synod beginning September 1.

Bishops are important to both congregations and pastors.

Every Sunday we pray for our bishop, praying he (or she) will faithfully assume and discharge the responsibilities of the office. On the top of my “to do” list for our new bishop is for him to get to know every congregation and pastor in the Synod. It is from our congregations that new church leaders and pastors emerge and the church is much in need of both. I hope the bishop’s schedule will include a visit to every congregation in the Synod. The bishop’s visit to Lutheran Church of the Master will include time with middle school and high school youth for them to hear from him the call to serve the church, including the call to be a pastor. We will ask the Bishop-elect to preach, he is a gifted preacher, all present will be inspired by his sermon.

Pastor Curry’s experience while serving as Pastor of Shekinah Chapel prepared him well for his leadership role. The mission statement of his church is succinct and to the point: “Bring them in, train them up and ship them out.” Perfect. The mission will be accomplished (according to the church’s webpage) by reaching out “not only to members but to the community as a whole with the Lutheran message of grace and salvation.” Once reached, Shekinah Chapel provides “an atmosphere that fosters, trains and equips God’s children to do His work.” Besides providing opportunity for worship and fellowship, Shekinah Chapel “dispatch(es) believers into active ministry that starts at home and expands through the community, ultimately influencing the state and touching the entire world.”

Pastor Curry is from Chicago’s south side, where he was born and raised. His father was murdered, Pastor Curry told the Assembly, when he was young. His mother immediately enrolled at NIU studying for an advanced degree so she could care for her large family.

Pastor Curry’s work began “in 1992, when a group of African American men realized that there were no black leaders attempting to help young black men mature and learn skills to handle their feelings in a healthy constructive way. As a result, a camp was established for African American boys called SIMBA (Safe In My Brothers Arms). The camp started as a two-week rite of passage in the summer that was set as a mentoring program that instills: spirituality, centrality of community, harmony with nature, personal centeredness, reverence for ancestors and survival.”  (http://www.shekinahchapel.org)

Are you inspired? I am, and I’m looking forward to Bishop-elect Curry’s leadership. He will be in our prayers.

(Shekhinah is a transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “setting” or “dwelling” designating the setting or dwelling place of the divine.  – Wikipedia)