By now, the news is out, we have elected a new Bishop, the Rev. James Hazelwood. I put the news on Facebook; here’s a link to his
church, so readers might have some idea of his background, and the work that he’s been involved in.
In the aftermath of the election, most of us (there were five people from St. Paul attending) are tired, but feel confident that the Bishop-Elect is a fine, capable man who will lead us well. Bishop-elect Hazelwood’s passion is mission; it has been a central feature of his work with the church he serves in Rhode Island, our Synod, and the wider church. He’s been leading mission trips to the Honduras for some years. Here’s the material published on the ELCA news website:
“Rev. James E. Hazelwood was elected June 9 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). He was elected on the fifth ballot at the synod’s assembly June 8-10 in Springfield, Mass. Hazelwood is pastor of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Charlestown, R.I. He succeeds the Rev. Margaret G. Payne, who is retiring. She served two terms as synod bishop. On the fifth ballot, Hazelwood received 325 votes and the Rev. Timothy R. Oslovich, Trinity Lutheran Church in Vernon, Conn., received 235. On the fourth ballot, Hazelwood received 271 votes, Oslovich received 202 and the Rev. Theodore W. Asta, associate to the bishop at the synod, received 99 votes.
“Born in Concord, Mass., Hazelwood earned a bachelor’s degree from California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He attended Union Theological Seminary and earned a Master of Divinity degree at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif. He earned a doctorate at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. California Lutheran is one of the ELCA’s 26 colleges and universities; Pacific Lutheran is one of eight ELCA seminaries.
After his ordination in 1987, Hazelwood was pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. Prior to his ordination, he served as a program director for El Camino Pines Camp in Frazier Park, Calif; youth director at All Saint’s Lutheran Church in Danville, Calif.; intern pastor at Burr Oak and Hesper Lutheran Church, Burr Oak, Iowa; and, he was superintendent at a school in Brooklyn. He also participated in a variety of ELCA churchwide ministries and synod activities.”
Just before the closing festive eucharist on Sunday morning, Bishop Payne’s staff came forward and offered a rousing, and creative adaptation of “Old MacDonald Had A Farm,” entitled “Bishop Payne’s Going Back to the Farm.” I hope the Synod will post it on the webpage, because it was very funny, and in the bittersweetness of her retirement, their singing gave us a few moments of high good humor. We all wish her and her family well in this next phase.
Bishop-elect Hazelwood made a promise during his candidacy process. During the open forum question and answer session, someone asked him what he would do in the first six months if he were elected Bishop. He said he wanted to visit every church in the New England Synod, and that it would probably take about a year to do it. We’ll invite him to St. Paul right away.
Peace, Pastor Anne