FigTree Header 10.14


Search The Fig Tree's stories of people who make a difference:

Lutheran Synod elects woman pastor as next bishop


The Rev. Kristen Kuempel, Bishop Elect of the Lutheran Synod.

The Rev. Kristen Kuempel, pastor of First Lutheran Church in Kennewick, was called on May 20 by the 2017 Synod Assembly to serve a six-year term as the next bishop of the Eastern Washington Idaho Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). 

She is the first woman elected as a bishop in this synod and is among three women bishops in the six synods in Region I, which includes Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Alaska.

Kristen starts Sept. 1, after the term of Bishop Martin Wells, who has served 18 years, ends on Aug. 31, and he returns to the title, “Pastor.”  Her installation will be on Saturday, Sept. 16.

With Kristen’s election, there will be four women bishops and regional church executives in the area. They are Bishop Gretchen Rehberg of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, the Rev. Sheryl Kinder-Pyle, executive minister of the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, and the Rev. Sandy Messick, the Christian Church Disciples of Christ’s Northwest Regional Minister. 

Other leaders include the Rev. Gregg Sealey, Pacific Northwest Annual Conference United Methodist Inland District Superintendent, and Bishop Thomas Daley of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane.

Kristen, who was ordained in 2002, served as a member at-large on the EWAID Synod Council, on the Lutherhaven Ministries Strategic Planning Task Force and on its Program Task Force.  She has also been involved with Lutheran Community Services.

“As bishop, I would seek to help the synod find hope in a future life as repairers and restorers,” Kristen said, responding to a question all candidates answered.

In Kennewick, she has been engaged with an interfaith community roundtable that addresses issues of homelessness and mental health needs among area teens and young people.

The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  It is also one of the largest in the Inland Northwest.

For information, call 838-9871.

Copyright © June 2017 - The Fig Tree