Luther College graduate elected bishop of ELCA La Crosse Area Synod

July 9, 2021

Felix Malpica is the youngest, and first person of color to assume this role.

Felix Malpica '09 has been elected bishop of the La Crosse Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). At 34, Malpica is the youngest bishop and the first person of color to assume this role.

"I can honestly say this has been a work of the Holy Spirit," said Malpica. "For more reasons than I can count, my call to bishop of the La Crosse Area Synod seems like a perfectly natural next progression in my life and ministry, although I would not have been able to predict it a year ago."

As the newly elected bishop, Malpica will lead 74 congregations spanning western Wisconsin for the next six years. Malpica says he will bring strategic thinking, questions, bridge building and creativity to the table.

"As a pastor, and now as bishop, I need to be a lifelong learner. There are always new problems, new situations, new challenges and having an ability to confidently acquire new knowledge is something that a liberal arts education prepared me for," said Malpica.

During his time at Luther College, Malpica studied Spanish and music. He said he also graduated with an understanding of how best to learn and of small town Norwegian culture.

"Learning Norwegian culture was something that became important to my ministry because I can honestly say that I had no idea Norweigian culture was a thing until I went to Luther. In some ways, it allowed for me to be a better missionary from Puerto Rico serving in Nordic-Lutheran contexts."

Born in Puerto Rico, Malpica moved to Chicago with his family in first grade where his father, also a reverend, was called to serve. Malpica served as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Janesville, Wisconsin, since 2017. Prior to that, he served as associate pastor of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas, from 2014 to 2017. His installation as bishop will take place on Sept. 26. 

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