Author Archives: Bishop Craig Schweitzer

About Bishop Craig Schweitzer

The Rev. Craig Schweitzer, of Bismarck, was elected as bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod on July 17, 2020, in the first-ever digital Synod Assembly. A historic event, Schweitzer is the first bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to be elected in an online assembly. Bishop Craig Schweitzer began serving the Western North Dakota Synod-ELCA on September 1, 2020. He has always seen himself as an easy-going person who seeks to daily discover anew how God is present in his life and the world in which he lives and serves. Prior to service in the Office of Bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod, Bishop Craig served at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck, ND as Music and Worship Minister (lay staff from 2002-2010), Associate Pastor (2010-2014), and Senior Pastor (2014-2020). Beyond his service in the church, he has an eclectic background that is a diverse collection of musical, educational, and business experiences ranging from live concert production and promotion to recording studios and live performance to music education. Throughout all of his professional and personal experiences, the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Rome have been a guiding light that has kept him grounded in whatever work God was calling him into – “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) Bishop Craig is a graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership. He also holds a certificate degree in Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. He was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament on September 16, 2010. Outside of his life as Bishop, Bishop Craig enjoys reading, all music, a little golf, a cold beverage with friends, and intentional times of quiet. And, of course, spending time with his wife Wendy and their adult twin daughters Ilia and Taegan.

The Communion of Saints and Election Day

November 7, 2022

Grace & peace to you in the name of our Savior Jesus!

Today is a unique day for followers of Jesus. Yesterday in worship, many Protestant congregations, we celebrated All Saint’s Day. November 1 is the actual date for All Saint’s Day. In many Protestant congregations, we acknowledge this holy day on the closest Sunday following Reformation Sunday.

Tomorrow, at least in the United States, we will celebrate Election Day.

On the surface, these two days seem very unrelated.

I invite us to look just a little below the surface and see that these two days share a lot in common.

As we sit in the day in between this year, we have a chance to give God thanks and praise for both –

For the saints in our lives who have died in the faith and join with the eternal cloud of witnesses.

And for the saints who felt called to place their names on a ballot in the hope of being elected to serve citizens in our communities, states, and nation.

I appreciated the overview of All Saint’s Day worship that was offered in one of our church’s worship resources yesterday. “Who are the saints, and what do they have to say to us? Rather than being perfect Christians, the saints are people who have been made whole by the grace of God, through baptism into Christ. The communion of saints is a diverse array of witnesses who remind us of God’s continuing faithfulness, past, present, and future.” [from www.sundaysandseasons.org]

If that is true, which I think it is, there are saints among us who are no longer with us in this world. Yes, even those who drove you crazy…are saints.

There are saints among us, walking with us in this world each day who drive us crazy in more ways than we can count…they are saints too.

And, there are also saints who are seeking public office in a variety of ways during tomorrow’s elections. Yes, even those who you didn’t vote for…are saints.

In the Small Catechism, Luther taught us that “This is most certainly true.”

The saints of our faith journey include God’s children like friends and parents, siblings and grandparents, co-workers and cousins, aunts and neighbors.

The saints of our faith journey also include God’s children like our city and county commissioners, state legislators and district court judges, city mayors, and even those who serve in the United States Congress. And, yes, even those whom we will never choose to vote for in an election, are saints.

On this day in between two days that celebrate the saints God places along our path, maybe we can take a few moments and give God thanks today for all the saints.

Who are some of the saints in your life that you are giving thanks for today???

Until next time, may Christ’s peace be with you always and in all ways…

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A Simple Question…or Is It?

October 31, 2022

Grace and peace to you from our Savior Jesus the Christ!

Happy Reformation Day!!

This is a significant day for Lutheran Christians. On this day we remember and give thanks for a 16th Century German monk named the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther. October 31, 1517 is the day that Lutheran Christians believe Dr. Luther offered 95 theses or the Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences that expressed concerns he had about the church. I don’t believe Luther was looking for fame as one of the world’s great church fathers and reformers. I don’t think Luther was interested in starting a new branch of the Christian tree. Luther was challenging the church to be in the daily practice of reform.

Here’s the simple and honest question I’d like us to think about on this year’s Reformation Day …

Is the church you and I are connected to a church that has reformed?

This church started a long time ago and hasn’t done anything new since. And refuses to do anything new now.

Or…

Is the church you and I are connected to a church that is constantly reforming?

These churches constantly look for new ways to bless and serve their neighbor in Jesus’ name; seek new opportunities to proclaim the gospel of Jesus for the sake of the salvation of all of God’s creation; and have an ongoing awareness of where the Holy Spirit may be leading them next in mission and ministry.

As I travel across this church (the ELCA) as a synod bishop, the number of faith communities I encounter that have reformed and have no interest in reforming is a bit disheartening.

I am also filled with abundant hope by the many faith communities I encounter who are reforming in amazing and grace-filled ways. It’s in their DNA.

Has your church reformed??

Or, is your church reforming??

As you think about the church being in a constant state of reform on this year’s Reformation Day, I’d love hear what’s happening in your faith community that is bringing forth reform!

Use the comment sections to share your faith community’s story of reform.

Until next time, may the peace of Christ be with you always and in all ways…

Bishop Craig