Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson was elected again Tuesday as leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, winning his second ballot with 888 out of about 1,000 votes at a national church assembly in Chicago. Thus he is going to serve for six more years.
The ELCA is among many liberal-leaning American Protestant groups with shrinking membership. The denomination reported a 1.6 percent decline in congregants between 2005 and 2006, to 4.8 million members. Only 30 percent 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 non-celibate gays.
In the 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."
Hanson is also president of the Lutheran World Federation, which represents 67 million Christians in 78 countries