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Biography of the Rev. Claire S. Burkat, Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod

The Rev. Claire Schenot Burkat served two terms as the fourth bishop of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod (SEPA) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, (ELCA) called as the spiritual leader of the 80,000 members, 150 ELCA congregations, and 15 Social Ministry organizations, in the metropolitan Philadelphia area. She was elected on the first ballot of her second six-year term. (2006-2018)

During her tenure Reverend Burkat streamlined the Synod staff, initiated a comprehensive deployment of elected deans, led the Synod through two strategic planning processes, and launched a capital campaign called Forward Together in Faith comprised of four key components to equip congregations and leaders for Lutheran witness in the 21st century.

Reverend Burkat has been a prominent leader in local and national ecumenical and interfaith initiatives. For 12 years she was co-convener of the Religious Leaders Council of Philadelphia, bringing together Christians, Jews, Muslims and other faith traditions on issues of moral concern to the region. She served as a trustee on several boards including the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, United Lutheran Seminary, Muhlenberg College, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania, the Episcopal/Lutheran Coordinating Committee, Christian Churches Together as the National Representative from the ELCA, the Ecumenical Team of the Conference of Bishops, and as a member of the Immigration Ready Bench in Washington, D.C., an advocacy gathering of ELCA Bishops.

Prior to her election as Bishop of the SEPA Synod, she served as mission director for the SEPA and NJ Synods and the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. During her ministry she oversaw the planting of 16 ELCA congregations including one joint Episcopal/Lutheran mission. She also designed a strategy for redevelopment of at-risk congregations that was adapted for use in the ELCA.

A native of New York City, Claire Schenot Burkat is a graduate of City University of New York, and received her Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Currently residing in Ambler, Pennsylvania, she is a member of the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion in Philadelphia.

Bishop Burkat can be reached at

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