During the bishop election of the 2012 New England Synod Assembly Jim Hazlewood was asked what he would like to accomplish during his first year in office if he was elected. Jim’s answer was that he would visit every ELCA congregation in the New England Synod. Little did he know that he was soon to be elected bishop and that he would have to fulfill this promise.
I think Bishop Hazlewood was the perfect person for the job because he understands the church. He writes on his blog Bishop on a Bike a few days after he was elected “I do not know the workings of the Holy Spirit, but here is my more rational understanding of what happened in Springfield. Our church in New England, and across North America, is experiencing a seismic shift. Whether it’s declining participation in congregational life, shift in where people go for spiritual understanding, economic dislocation or just plain old general angst, you can easily see these are strange and un-understandable times. I think most everyone in the church, and certainly those at the Assembly in Springfield understood this to be the case.” I believe there is a shift in the church and most of us really don’t understand what it is and we don’t know what to do about it!
Bishop Hazlewood had a plan. He wanted to hear from the people and the best way to do that was to visit all the ELCA congregations in the New England Synod.
On his second day of office (September 2, 2012) he visited his first congregation Gloria Dei Lutheran Church Providence, RI. His final visit was at the congregation I serve Faith Lutheran Church Gardner, MA on May 21, 2014.
I was excited not only to be a part of a visit by Bishop Hazlewood but I was VERY excited to be his 183 visit.
Faith Lutheran Church was very excited to host Bishop Hazlewood.
We blew up 183 balloons:
Made 183 cookies:
Had an awesome shirt made at John’s Sports Shop in Gardner, MA:
Overall it was a successful night. We heard stories about the Bishop’s travels throughout New England and we were inspired by his message about reaching out to the community to not only bring the Gospel to the world, but to care for our neighbor and the beautiful creation that God has blessed us with. I am thankful for our bishop and I look forward being a part the ministry in New England.