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J. Shane Mercer, Published August 16 2008

Bishop dishes on wishes

Today is something of a changing of the guard for many Lutherans in the area.

The Rev. Bill Rindy, 46, will be installed as the new bishop of the Eastern North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in a 4 p.m. service at Hope Lutheran Church, South Campus, in Fargo.

Rindy actually began serving as bishop July 1, following his election to the position in April. A native of Mayville, N.D., Rindy was pastor of First Lutheran Church in Fargo for almost 11 years. He is married to Louise, and they have two daughters.

He recently sat down to chat with The Forum about his role as the bishop, why he’s called “technopastor,” as well as where he wanted Brett Favre to land. Here is some of that conversation:

Forum: What is the role of the bishop?

Rindy: (T)here are some things we can do together really well. An individual congregation really can’t have its own seminary, but when you put a bunch of congregations working together, you can do seminaries, you can do global missions better, you can generate educational resources, you can share the resources of the individuals’ congregations well. And so my job is to help the congregations do better together than what they could do alone.

What strengths do you bring to the position?

I think a strong scriptural base would be one piece. A pretty non-anxious presence, don’t get rattled easily, don’t get flustered fast. And creative problem-solving. Looking at new ways of doing things.

Favorite foods?

Oh, boy. Some of my favorite foods give away my ethnic background. Lefse’s one of my favorites, but at the same time, I like Mexican food, Chinese food, Italian food. Probably too much food.

What weaknesses do you think you’ll have to overcome to do the job well?

Well, one weakness is I have a tendency at times to be a workaholic. … Probably another weakness would be to want to do things yourself

when in reality there are all kinds

of gifted people around you who, not only could, but maybe ought to be doing those things.

Where do you hope ex-Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre ends up?

(Editor’s note: The interview was conducted prior to Favre signing with the New York Jets.) I’ve been a Vikings fan for a long time. ... It would be kind of fun, just for the drama of it, if they were to release him and he were able to, let’s say it this way, nurture Tarvaris Jackson a little bit in his development as a quarterback.

Does your job frighten you?

Everywhere I go, people say, “We’re praying for you,” “We’re rooting for you.” And to have the support of 102,000 people plus the support of the living God and the power of the Holy Spirit, I come to work each day excited about what I’m going to encounter rather than with any fear or dread. And I’m going to enjoy that as long as it lasts.

What do you do for fun?

I like technology. They used to call me technopastor at First Lutheran. I like my kids, being involved in their sports. … I like woodworking and projects. I like to golf and play racquetball and to spend time with friends. I like my wife. She’s a good balancer in my life.

Q. Is there a book of the Bible to which you are particularly drawn and why?

A. Galations is different than Paul’s other letters in part because Paul’s surprised that people are so quickly and so easily willing to kind of wander off in another direction, and he’s calling them back to faithfulness. And one of the things in our society is there are constant things trying to pull people in other directions and it’s easy to fall into kind of a different kind of Gospel, but Paul says there isn’t really another Gospel. Yet it clearly lays out the grace of God, what God’s intent is for us and calls us to faithfulness.

Q. Describe your personality.

A. I’m quieter than some people might think. I like to think a lot before I answer. … I’m intentional. I’m caring. I’m loyal. I’m persistent; that comes in handy with the technology because I believe you should never let the computer win. Pretty reliable. It almost sounds like the old Boy Creed: A Boy Scout is Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Those are things I’ve strived to be, and I guess if you do that long enough they start to become character traits.

Q. What do you see as the greatest challenges facing this particular synod?

A. (T)he biggest challenge I think facing the synod is to continue to tell the old, old story in new ways that make sense in the context as it is now because, as much as we’d like, we can’t go back to 20 years ago. What we have to deal with is what’s in front of us now. And to do that as faithfully as possible in light of the changes that are going on will require creativity, flexibility, openness to what the Holy Spirit might be nudging us to do in the future.

Q. What are the real strengths of this synod?

A. The amazing number of people who I’ve met already in the few places I’ve been who have a love of the Gospel, a love of their church, a desire to keep growing and reaching out. It’s just been a treat. I’ve been (with a number of congregations), and every place I’ve gone, there’s a passion for the Gospel, a love of Jesus and a desire to keep being faithful. And if when I get to the other two hundred and some congregations I haven’t been to yet and I find that, that’s an amazing strength because with faith you can do almost anything.

If you go

- What: Bishop installation service

- When: 4 p.m. today

- Where: Hope Lutheran Church, South Campus, 3636 25th St. S., Fargo

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734