Bishop, Saint Paul Area Synod
The Rev. Peter Rogness was elected bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in April 2002 and re-elected to a second term in 2008. Prior to his call to the Saint Paul Area Synod, he served as bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod, where he was first elected in 1987 and re-elected twice. He also served as bishop of the Southern Wisconsin District of The American Lutheran Church (ALC) from 1985 prior to his election to bishop in the Greater Milwaukee Synod.
Born in 1945 in Mason City, Iowa, Rogness grew up in St. Paul and was graduated from Murray High School. He attended Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he majored in history and philosophy. He began his theological education at Union Theological Seminary, New York, and was graduated from Luther Seminary in 1972. Ordained in 1973, he served as associate pastor of Wellington Park Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, from 1973-75, and as pastor of Hephatha Lutheran Church, a primarily African American congregation on Milwaukee’s north side, from 1975-85.
He currently serves on the board of regents of St. Olaf College, Northfield, and Augsburg College, Minneapolis. He has served as vice chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops and as an advisory bishop to the ELCA Church Council. Carthage College awarded him the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1987, and Augustana College, Sioux Falls, presented him the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters in 2004.
Rogness is the author of A Common Foundation: Shared Principles for Overcoming Poverty, a document written in 2004 and endorsed by more than 30 religious leaders around Minnesota. The document outlines the principles shared by all faith communities in walking with those living in poverty and shapes the synod’s ecumenical efforts to end poverty. Working in partnership with the now retired Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, he sought—and continues to seek—to bring public attention to the needs of the state’s most vulnerable people. He was part of a group of international ecumenical leaders who participated in a religious summit on poverty prior to the G8 summit in Scotland in 2005. In 2006, he co-authored with the Rev. Nancy Maeker, Ending Poverty: A 20/20 Vision, a guide for individuals and congregations.
Rogness comes from a family of pastors, teachers, and church leaders. His brother, Michael, is professor of homiletics at Luther Seminary, and another brother, Andrew, was pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Roseville, until his death in 2010. His father, Alvin, served as president of Luther Seminary from 1954-74. His mother, Nora Preus Rogness, was the sister of David Preus, who served as president of the ALC, a predecessor body of the ELCA, from 1973-87. Rogness’ grandfather, O.J.H. Preus, served as president of the Eastern District of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America from 1926-29, and as president of Augustana College from 1929-32, and Luther College from 1932-48.
He and his wife Gerry are members of Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, St. Paul and have four adult children and four grandchildren.