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ZVOLEN, SLOVAKIA (SZS) On Saturday, March 2, 2019 the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession (ECAV) in Slovakia celebrated the installation of their new General Bishop, Ivan Eľko, their new Bishop of the Western District, Ján Hroboň, and their new General Supervisor (similar to Vice President), Ján Brozman. The service was held in the Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity in the city of Zvolen.

The Bishop of the Eastern District, Slavomir Sabol, installed the general bishop and commissioned the general supervisor. The General Bishop, Ivan Eľko, installed the Bishop of the Western District, Ján Hroboň.

The installation was attended by parish leaders, deanery/conference representatives, members of the general presbytery, evangelical parish priests, representatives of the evangelical clergy serving in the Slovak chaplaincy service, representatives of local registered churches and religious communities, guests from foreign and partner evangelical churches, representatives of the state, and Evangelical Diaconia ECAC.

The worshipping community in the church building consisted of more than one thousand believers from all over Slovakia. Others followed the livestream of these services on a large screen in front of the church steps.

During the service, choirs performed from Bratislava Dúbravka, Hanušovce nad Topľou, Martin, Nitra, Diakovce, as well as the Slovak National Ecumenical Choir and chamber ensemble. The choir was conducted by Ewald Danel, and Janko Siroma, chairman of the Church Music and Hymnology Committee, served as cantor.

The Word of God from Philippians 2:1-4 was the basis of Bishop Emeritus Július Filo’s homily. Julius Filo pointed out that those gathered were there to bless and send forth the new church presidency and new bishop of the Western District. He also pointed out that the first provision in the ecclesiastical constitution ends with the same five words used for the provisions describing the General Bishop, the District Bishops, and the General Supervisor: “It’s five simple words. Each of you, what he does, should protect the church and its unity. Yes, every bishop ensures that the Gospel is proclaimed according to the principles of faith. The guard cares for the spiritual growth of the church. And all together: they protect the church and its unity.”

Bishop Emeritus Filo talked about being together and supporting the newly elected bishops as an instrument of unity, saying: “The answer is the Lord Jesus Christ, in which we have an invitation to love, compassion and mercy, and community unity which has been given to us in the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit invites us through the words of the Apostle Paul to be one soul and one mind, to think the same way. We can learn to think the same way when we communicate with each other in humility and love. When we try to understand the other’s arguments in the light of God’s Word … The same mind and the same love of God in Christ means interest in people around the world, their problems and their hopes.”

After the rite of installation, General Bishop Ivan Eľko and Bishop Ján Hroboň were blessed by the Bishop of the Eastern District, Slavomír Sabol, both Bishops Emeriti Július Filo and Igor Mišina, the regional bishop of the Evangelical Church in central Germany, Friederike Spengler, and by foreign bishops of sister churches. Prayers included asking for blessings of the new leadership, and for their church to be a blessing for their country.

Foreign guests also spoke to the assembly. The Reverend Peter Rogness, interim pastor of the Bratislava International Church and Bishop Emeritus of the St. Paul Area Synod brought greetings from the ELCA, along with the Rev. Thomas S. Drobena representing the Slovak Zion Synod of the ELCA.