- Rimbo 236
- Wollenburg 232
- Abstentions 7
- Needed to elect 235.
Holy cats. It was a squeaker, as close as the 1996 Bouman/Sudbrock election had been (although not as parricidal, and therefore not as fraught with emotion). We certainly hope those who abstained did so purposefully, because they more than made the difference.
What have we learned from this? There are a few obvious rules for becoming a synodical bishop, at least in New York: (1) Don't live somewhere else; we may like you, but we don't want to pay for your plane ticket. (2) Don't be a woman. Not yet, anyway.
Also some more nuanced guidelines: (3) Have a degree from Concordia or Seminex; Rimbo is the fourth of our three ELCA bishops to have one, and, had he been elected, so would Wollenburg. (4) Be pastor of Holy Trinity, on Central Park West. Rimbo is, Lazareth was, and we could easily have elected Dick Jeske back in 1992. (5) Be careful who's in your corner; it is quite possible that liberals, suspecting a mass effort by conservatives, decided that "the bishop of my enemy is my enemy," or something like that, without regard for the facts. Call it the Schleef Syndrome.
And, finally, the most disturbing rule of all: (6) Don't tell the truth about scary things. Sex may be okay, but not death. No, sir or ma'am -- if you know perfectly well that congregations are going to die, and think we ought to have a frank conversation about how to go on living afterward, just keep that information to yourself.
Still and all, despite our reservations about the process, this was not a bad election. As we have already said, the top seven candidates were all solid, and certainly there were differences enough among them to give voters something to choose. Rimbo is very bright and has experience in this difficult job. We at the Egg will pray for his ministry, as we will also pray for his congregation which is -- again, and again suddenly -- thrust into the unknown.