A NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of the Bishop
Winnipeg, May 27, 2002, (ELCIC) -- A former refugee from post-Second World War Europe will become the first Lutheran to be ordained as a bishop in Canada. The ordination of the Rev. Gerhard Preibisch (pronounced PRY-bish) as Bishop of the British Columbia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) will take place on Friday, June 7, 7:30 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver.
The ordination comes as the result of the decision by the ELCIC and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) to enter into Full Communion in July 2001. In their agreement, called “The Waterloo Declaration,” the two churches said they, “affirm each other's expression of episcopal ministry as a sign of continuity and unity in apostolic faith. We thus understand that the bishops of both churches are ordained for life service of the Gospel in the pastoral ministry of the historic episcopate, although tenure in office may be terminated by retirement, resignation or conclusion of term, subject to the constitutional provisions of the respective churches.”
Some Christian churches, including the ACC and some Lutheran churches in other parts of the world, have emphasized the importance of maintaining the historic episcopate. According to the Porvoo Common Statement, 1993, this is valued and maintained “as a visible sign expressing and serving the Church’s unity and continuity in apostolic life, mission and ministry.”
Lutherans maintain that they have always retained the apostolic tradition by faithful teaching of the gospel. While bishops make this continuity visible, maintaining apostolic succession has not been considered essential by Lutherans although they had no specific reason for not doing so other than the circumstances of history. “At this time in our history, it seems good to highlight this visibility again,” said the ELCIC’s National Bishop Raymond Schultz.
Prior to this ordination, whenever a pastor was elected to serve as a bishop, the ELCIC had installed that person to serve as a bishop for a specific term of office. The change from installation to ordination in no way changes the way ELCIC bishops function and serve. When their terms of office end, they may perform tasks at the invitation of a bishop who is currently in office.
“The BC Synod Council was pleased to accept the gracious invitation of Bishop Michael Ingham to use Christ Church Cathedral for my ordination,” said Bishop-elect Preibisch. “Such hospitality is a sign of the deepening relationship between Anglicans and Lutherans in Canada.”
The Rev. Gerhard Preibisch, 59, and his wife, Winn, have four adult children. He has a B.A. from the University of Saskatchewan where he majored in political science and a M.Div. from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon. He has served as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Chilliwack, B.C. since 1988.
Pastor Preibisch appreciates the hospitality that Canadians show to immigrants. He arrived in Canada in 1953 at the age of ten. His family had been refugees in Germany who had fled from Poland. When they arrived in Saskatoon, a pastor who spoke German greeted them and offered to help them to settle in. This hospitality continued when the family moved to Rosthern, Saskatchewan, where his father suddenly died. “The townspeople opened their hearts to us,” he said. “They offered us food, good used clothing, furniture, even a loan to buy a house. Most importantly, they offered us friendship.”
When former B.C. Synod Bishop Raymond Schultz was elected National Bishop of the ELCIC, Pastor Preibisch was Vice-Chair of the synod and he was charged to ensure that the responsibilities of the bishop’s office were fulfilled. When asked what he anticipates will give him the greatest joy as bishop, based on his experiences during the interim, he said, “The most fun is going throughout the synod and meeting dedicated people. They love their church and are so willing to serve God that they make time for these events when they could be doing other things on a Friday evening or a Saturday.”
In accord with The Waterloo Declaration, bishops from the ACC have been invited to participate in the laying on of hands at the ordination of bishop-elect Preibisch. Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster, Archbishop David Crawley of the Anglican Province of British Columbia and Yukon, and Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada will participate, as will ELCIC National Bishop Raymond Schultz and the bishops of the four other ELCIC synods.