Pastor James Gonia was elected to be the next bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod of the ELCA. Pastor Gonia was elected on the fifth ballot on Saturday morning, April 28, 2012, at the Synod Assembly meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Pastor Gonia had been program director for the ELCA missionary efforts in Madagascar, Tanzania, and West Africa. He has previously been called as teacher and director of Betela Seminary in Madagascar, a mission partner of the Rocky Mountain Synod; Rocky Mountain Synod Missionary-in-Residence, Youth/Education Director at Christ Lutheran in St. Paul, Minnesota; and associate pastor at Atonement Lutheran Church in Denver, Colorado.
Bishop-elect Gonia has been awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Valparaiso University, a Master of Divinity from Luther Northwestern Seminary, and a Master of Theology in Islamic Studies from Luther Seminary.
In the narrative that Pastor Gonia submitted to the voting members of the Synod Assembly, he wrote, “I have been privileged to serve our church at the congregational, synodical, churchwide, and global levels….
“Having lived and worked among people at the margins, questions of wealth and poverty, power and privilege, empowerment and sustainability, justice and stewardship, shape how I approach decisions about commitments, priorities, and use of resources.”
The election was conducted under the supervision of ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. Pastor Gonia will be installed as bishop in September 2012.
Pastor Gonia said that he and his wife Kim, also an ordained minister, will be leaving on Sunday, April 29, for a 12 day visit to Camaroon, where they will celebrate and participate in the ordination of the first female pastors in the Lutheran Church of Camaroon.
ELCA congregations in northern Utah are Ascension Lutheran Church and Elim Lutheran Church in Ogden, and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan.