Provost Gerhard Ulrich has been elected the new Protestant bishop for Schleswig and Holstein. On Saturday in Schleswig Cathedral, 77 of 136 members of the North Elbian Synod present voted in favor of it. His opponent, Horst Gorski, received 56 votes. Attacks by church-conservative Christians on the homosexual Provost Gorski had caused a stir prior to the election decision.
The decision between Ulrich and Gorski was made on the first ballot. There were three abstentions."Gerhard Ulrich will be a good bishop for us as a true North Elbe," said synod president Hans-Peter Strenge immediately after the election. The provost from Kappeln had proven himself in various leadership positions.Ulrich takes over the bishop's office on 1. October of Bishop Hans Christian Knuth (67), who will retire at the end of September after 17 years in office. Knuth wished his successor "all the best and God's blessing". Ulrich is "deeply rooted in the spiritual ministry," he said. At the same time, Knuth expressed his "full respect" for the defeated candidate Gorski from Hamburg-Altona.According to the church's governing bodies, the widespread discussion nationwide about the Hamburg candidate's homosexuality was "largely irrelevant" to the election. The College of Bishops and the Synod Presidium reiterated that homosexuality is not an obstacle to senior spiritual ministry.Ulrich was elected on 9. March 1951 born in Hamburg. He has been provost in Schleswig-Holstein since 1996 and was previously director of the North Elbian preacher's seminary in Preetz. After his military service, he had initially decided to study German, theater studies and drama before switching to theology. He was ordained as a pastor in 1981.On 8. November Ulrich is to be inaugurated in his new office. The new Schleswig and Holstein district to be formed in May 2009 includes eight church districts with about 1.15 million Protestant members.