The 2018 Synod of the Moravian Church Southern Province elected two bishops of the Moravian Unity during its sessions on Saturday, April 21.
The Rev. Carol Foltz, currently pastor of Moravia Moravian Church in Oak Ridge, N.C., was elected during the morning session. Sister Foltz is the first woman elected bishop by the Southern Province.
The Rev. Tom Shelton, a retired Moravian pastor from Volusia County, Florida, was elected during the afternoon session.
“I am a sinner, saved by Grace,” said Foltz as she accepted her election. “I believe that the walk with Christ is a walk of development, and I have had the great privilege of saying to you that God has been good to me. I read in the Daily Texts last week, ‘Let the lord do to me as seems good to him.’ I underlined it, thinking about this Synod, and I said to myself, ‘God, let it be with me as you wish it to be. I humbly accept this call.”
Brother Shelton shared similar sentiments: “You now have elected two sinners saved by Grace,” he said. “For no one is worthy without the blood…I’m looking forward to another way to pastor, another way to minister. I pledge my love to every pastor in this room and pledge my love to the church in every way I can. Ever since I was five, I wanted to be a preacher; I wanted to be. Thank you for letting me be. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Thank you.”
The election of Foltz and Shelton followed a resolution earlier in the day that allowed for the election of two bishops during the 2018 Synod.
Sister Foltz and Brother Shelton were classmates at Moravian Theological Seminary and were ordained on the same day in 1978. Sister Foltz served churches in North Carolina and Virginia, and also served with the Board of Christian Education and Evangelism and as chaplain at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. She has served Moravia Moravian Church since 2015. Brother Shelton served congregations in North Carolina and Florida, and retired in 2013 after 29 years as pastor of Friedberg Moravian Church in Winston-Salem.
Sister Foltz and Brother Shelton join the Rt. Rev. Sam Gray, the Rt. Rev. Graham Rights, the Rt. Rev. Lane Sapp and the Rt. Rev. John Wilson as Moravian bishops in the Southern Province.
Elected by the delegates at Provincial Synods, Moravian bishops serve as “pastors to pastors” (and their families), prayer intercessors and spiritual guides to the denomination and when commissioned, officiate at ordinations and consecrations. It is not unusual for the Provincial Elders’ Conferences to consult with bishops on matters of doctrine, faith and church order. Also, at the request of the PEC, a bishop may be asked to counsel with a pastor or congregation, represent the Moravian Church at the consecration of a bishop in one of our partner denominations or serve ex-officio on interdenominational committees or working groups. Moravian bishops in the two North American provinces hold no administrative responsibility or authority.