A Winnipeg pastor says he would have never expected it, but is ready to serve after being elected as Bishop of the Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario (MNO) Synod over the weekend.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada's (ELCC) MNO Synod held their Convention at Grace Lutheran Church in Winnipeg. Part of the agenda included electing a new Bishop, to replace the long-serving Bishop Elaine Sauer.

On the fourth ballot on Saturday, April 28, the Reverend Jason Zinko, pastor of Winnipeg's Sherwood Park Lutheran Church, was elected Bishop.

The ELCC's process for Bishop sees nominations written in on the day of voting, rather than people nominating themselves and campaigning for the position.

"It's a process designed to let the Holy Spirit speak through the delegates that are gathered in the Convention," Zinko explains. Any ordained pastors in the ELCC, as well as Anglican priests, may be nominated.

To find his name as one of 26 nominations on Saturday left Zinko surprised. "I shouldn't be surprised, because the Holy Spirit's done some pretty crazy things before. But I never expected that I would be the Bishop-elect, at all.

"I believe it all starts with our faith."

It's a multi-ballot process and Zinko says that when it was down to the top three candidates they each were given a chance to deliver a speech to the delegates about where they see God calling both the Synod and the wider Church. "I guess the people that were there seemed to agree with some of the things that I had to say."

Zinko knows that it will be a collaborative process for moving the Synod forward.

"I have some ideas of my own, or where I think God is leading us. But, I think, that really the clearer vision is something that we're going to have to do as an entire Church. Something we'll need to work at together, discern together as a wider Church exactly where God is calling us."

As far as where that process begins, Zinko says it's pretty simple.

He says that one of the things he told the Convention is that "I believe it all starts with our faith. With recommitting to that. To really learning how to trust God, and follow Jesus. Figuring out where it is that we can be the Church today and where we can serve our communities and neighbours.

"When we have that strong faith and trusting God, I think the rest of it falls into place a bit better."

Zinko will have to leave his role as pastor at Sherwood Park Lutheran Church, as he moves into the Bishop's office. That move will take place sometime between July 1 and September 1 of this year.

Bishop-elect Zinko says that he would appreciate the prayers of the Church in Manitoba. "There are going to be some big transitions in a number of ways. If you could pray for our family, my wife and I just had our first baby a couple months ago, so that will be a big switch for us at home. So if you could pray for us."

He also asks you to pray for his church. "Pray for Sherwood Park Lutheran Church. They are, I think, in a little bit of shock, and they're going to have to go through a process." Zinko had been at the church for four years and says "We were just kind of hitting our stride."

Finally, Zinko says that we can pray for the MNO Synod. "Pray for our Synod as we say goodbye to our outgoing Bishop, Elaine Sauer. She was there for 12 years and did a phenomenal job of leading us down Jesus' path in her ministry. So pray for her in that transition as well, and for us to be able to keep the momentum going . . . and pray especially for our national Church. There's going to be a transition, and learning how to work together. Steep learning curves all around.

"Anyone out there, if they're willing to pray for us, that's what we'll need. For God to speak through this experience, and to help us as collectively and seamlessly as possible get back into following and serving.