Posted by: Date: October 20, 2014 In: ,

ELCA’s First Female Bishop to Speak at PLU

Rev. Elizabeth Eaton

The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton will speak at PLU on Nov. 1. (Photo courtesy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)

TACOMA, Wash. (Oct. 21, 2014)—The Southwestern Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Pacific Lutheran University are joining to bring ELCA Presiding Bishop the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton to PLU on Nov. 1 for a free and public talk titled,  “Who is Leading Us, and Where Are We Going?”

Eaton was elected ELCA’s fourth presiding bishop at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, marking the first time in history that a woman became the leader of the largest Lutheran denomination in North America. Nationwide, the ELCA has nearly 4.2 million members.

“Her unexpected election as the first female leader of the national church is a breaking of that glass ceiling that previously kept women on the sidelines,” said Dr. Samuel Torvend, who holds the University Chair in Lutheran Studies at PLU.

Event Details
What: The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton speaks on “Who is Leading Us, and Where are We Going?”
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 1. Coffee reception begins at 9 a.m.; a Q&A follows the talk.
Where: Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, on the PLU campus.
Admission: Free and open to the public.
More information here.

Eaton’s visit to PLU is historic, too.

“This will be Bishop Eaton’s first public visit to the ‘None Zone,’ that region of the country where over two-thirds of the population does not participate in any form of religion,” Torvend said. “And she will be speaking in a part of the country that witnessed many departures from the church after it voted in 2009 for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians as church leaders.”

That latter issue still resonates as timely and relevant, especially in light of the Oct. 18 reversal by Roman Catholic bishops of a controversial document that had talked more positively of homosexuals than any other in the church’s history.

Eaton earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. Ordained June 4, 1981, Eaton served as assistant pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Worthington, Ohio; interim pastor of Good Hope Lutheran Church in Boardman, Ohio; and pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Ashtabula, Ohio. She was elected bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod in 2006 and re-elected in May 2013. Eaton’s husband, the Rev. T. Conrad Selnick, an Episcopal priest, is vice president for advancement and church relations at Bexley Seabury Federation. They are parents of two adult children, Rebeckah and Susannah.