Religion

Atlanta pastor, an NC native and UNC-CH grad, elected new bishop of NC Lutherans

N.C. Lutheran Bishop-Elect Timothy Smith
N.C. Lutheran Bishop-Elect Timothy Smith Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Atlanta

The Rev. Timothy Smith was elected Saturday to be the new bishop of the N.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which includes more than 200 congregations in the state, including several in the Charlotte area.

Smith, a North Carolina native who previously led Lutheran churches in Boone and Newton, has been the senior pastor at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer on Peachtree Street in Atlanta since 2010.

Smith is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and will succeed Bishop Leonard Bolick, who is retiring after serving 18 years – one of the longest tenures in the ELCA, a national denomination of Lutherans. The N.C. bishop is based in Salisbury.

Smith was elected on the fifth ballot Saturday at a meeting of the N.C. Synod at Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. The runner-up: The Rev. Mark Fitzsimmons, senior pastor at Lutheran Church of the Nativity in Arden.

Smith, now the bishop-elect, will take office Aug. 1. His official installation as bishop will take place Sept. 12 at Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte.

Before taking his post at the Atlanta church, Smith was pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran-Startown in Newton for seven years and pastor of Grace Lutheran in Boone for 17 years.

The ELCA is a mainline Protestant denomination with its national headquarters in Chicago. With 3.8 million members, it’s the country’s seventh largest religious body and the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States. It has 65 synods, including the N.C. Synod.

Other Lutheran denominations include the more conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

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