Mark Hanson was overwhelmingly reelected Tuesday as
leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Hanson won on the
second ballot with 888 out of about 1,000 votes at a
national church assembly in Chicago. He will serve for six
The ELCA is among
many liberal-leaning American Protestant groups with
shrinking membership rolls. The denomination reported a 1.6%
decline in congregants between 2005 and 2006, to 4.8
million members. Only 30% of Evangelical Lutherans
attend worship weekly.
Hanson, 60, is
making evangelism a central theme of this week's meeting,
which will also take up the long-running debate over whether
the church should ordain noncelibate gays.
convention's opening sermon Monday, Hanson said he feared
that shrinking membership, and divisions over
homosexuality, have made the group ''a church body
with low expectations for what the Holy Spirit is
doing and can do in our lives and through our ministries.''
A graduate of
Union Theological Seminary in New York, Hanson served as
bishop of the St. Paul area in Minnesota before he was
elected to the top church job in 2001. He is also
president of the Lutheran World Federation, which
represents 67 million Christians in 78 countries.
meeting runs through Saturday. (AP)