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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 182,077 baptized members in 624 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.

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From the Office of the Bishop


Winnipeg, July 8, 2002, (ELCIC) -- The Rev. Cynthia G. Halmarson, 47, was elected by the Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) as its new bishop. The convention met in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, July 4 to 7. Bishop-elect Halmarson will become the first Lutheran woman to serve as a bishop in Canada when she is ordained as bishop on September 22 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Regina, Saskatchewan. Bishop Allan Grundahl, the incumbent, had announced plans to retire prior to the convention. Halmarson takes office on October 1.

Halmarson has served as the Assistant to the National Bishop of the ELCIC since May 1, 1996. Prior to that she served as Assistant to the Bishop of the Saskatchewan Synod for two years, and was the Secretary of that synod (a volunteer position) from 1990 to 1994.

Bishop-elect Halmarson was ordained in the New England Synod of the Lutheran Church in America on May 23, 1982. From 1982 to 1994, she served two congregations in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, first as assistant pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church and later as pastor at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

Her husband, the Rev. James Halmarson, and she have two children, Sarah and Daniel. Halmarson was born and raised in Bristol, Connecticut, the daughter of Archie and Esther Gatzuras. She moved to Canada at the time of her marriage in 1978 and became a Canadian citizen on May 3, 2001.

Halmarson was tied for fourth place on the first ballot for bishop, which produced a list of 44 nominees for the position. On the second ballot, she was tied for first place with the Rev. Daniel Haugen, former president of Lutheran Collegiate Bible Institute in Outlook, Saskatchewan. In the process used by the synod, the list of candidates was then narrowed to four for the third ballot with the Rev. Jerry Borkowsky and the Rev. Sid Haugen, parish pastors in Regina, Saskatchewan, appearing on the ballot with Halmarson and Daniel Haugen. (The Haugens are brothers.) The results of the third ballot were Borkowsky 38, Halmarson 58, Dan Haugen 42, and Sid Haugen 38. Because synod rules permit only three candidates on the fourth ballot, a run off ballot was needed between Borkowsky and Sid Haugen, which resulted in Borkowsky’s name being placed on the fourth ballot. The three candidates then addressed the convention. Because Halmarson was not present at the convention, she spoke by a telephone link from her home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The results of the fourth ballot were Borkowsky 57, Halmarson 79, and Haugen 42. The two remaining candidates then answered a series of written questions developed from submissions from delegates, with Halmarson again speaking to the convention by telephone link. The results of the fifth ballot were Borkowsky 74, Halmarson 104. Later in the convention, delegates elected Borkowsky as vice-chairperson of the synod.

Bishop-elect Halmarson travelled immediately to Swift Current to accept the election in person. “I accept God’s call through your election to return to Saskatchewan, my Canadian home, and to minister to the pastors, diaconal ministers and congregations of this synod. I ask for your prayers and your participation in our common ministry.”

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