Thiel College celebrated its 141st Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 2 p.m. in the Passavant Center. Baccalaureate was held at 10 a.m.
The Reverend Elizabeth A. Eaton, M.Div., the first female presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), delivered the commencement address. Bishop Eaton was also conferred an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree by Thiel College President, Troy D. VanAken, Ph.D.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton was elected as the ELCA’s fourth presiding bishop at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Born in Cleveland on April 2, 1955, Eaton earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.
Ordained June 4, 1981, Eaton served as assistant pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Worthington, Ohio; interim pastor of Good Hope Lutheran Church in Boardman, Ohio; and pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Ashtabula, Ohio. She was elected bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod in 2006 and re-elected in May 2013.
Eaton is involved in a number of boards and committees. She is a board member of Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Capital University, both based in Columbus, Ohio. She is a member of the Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee and also serves on the Conference of Bishops Domestic Ready Bench. She also has roles with the ELCA Malaria Campaign, the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, PORTICO Philosophy of Benefits Task Force, Ohio Council of Churches and Lutheran Planned Giving in Ohio.
Prior to her election, Eaton was the liaison bishop to the ELCA Church Council and a member of the ELCA Memorials Committee for the 2007, 2011 and 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assemblies. She served as a delegate to The Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Budapest in 1984, on the review team for Lutheran Episcopal dialogues in 1982, and she was a part of the delegation from the ELCA’s predecessor church bodies to the German Democratic Republic in 1982.
Eaton’s husband, the Rev. T. Conrad Selnick, an Episcopal priest, is vice president for advancement and church relations at Bexley Seabury Federation. They are parents of two adult children, Rebeckah and Susannah.
Biography courtesy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America website.