Pastor James Haak will be the next bishop of the LCA’s New South Wales District, following the retirement of Bishop Mark Lieschke at the end of the year.
Pastor Haak, who has never served in the New South Wales District, was elected on 16 September at the Convention of Synod at Warrambui Retreat and Conference Centre, Murrumbateman.
Bishop Lieschke did not stand for another two-year term and will retire from the ministry. He served for eight years and four terms, first as president, then bishop of the New South Wales District.
Pastor Haak, who is currently serving the Lockyer Valley Parish (Gatton Ministry Area) in Queensland and is 1st Assistant Bishop of the Queensland District, said he was ‘extremely humbled’ by his election.
‘From my perspective, it was unexpected’, he said. ‘While I believed that I was capable of fulfilling the role, I never believed that I would be elected. It shows once again that God’s ways are not always the ways that we believe or imagine.’
Prior to his current call, Pastor Haak previously served in Rockhampton, West Logan, and Pittsworth in Queensland and Eudunda in South Australia. As well as his 32 years of parish ministry, he is a current member of the member of the LCA’s Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations (CTICR) and has held leadership positions as a member of Queensland District Church Council and Queensland District Finance Committee.
Having never served in New South Wales, he said his first task would be to familiarise himself with his new district to establish his priorities for the role after a process of consultation.
‘It would be my expectation that I visit each of the pastors and their parishes as soon as I am able’, he said. ‘I look forward to serving the pastors, parishes, and organisations that make up LCANSW and pray that God will give me the wisdom and strength to carry out this task he has laid before me.’
Pastor Haak is married to Marie and they have two adult children.
The service of Bishop Lieschke and his wife Meredith was acknowledged during the convention, including in a greeting from Pastor Tim Zanker, of the District’s Coastal South Zone, which was read out to the synod. In part it said: ‘Mark, I have appreciated your focus on Jesus Christ, your emphasis on the cross of Christ and the forgiveness won by Christ for us there, the quiet and deliberative way that you approach people and pastoral situations, and your concern for the church of Jesus Christ as you have sought to “pastor the pastors” and lead the New South Wales District of the LCA since your election as bishop eight years ago.
‘There have been the times of immense difficulty and frustration that you have faced that most people have not known about. But you have also been able to see in a distinct way the blessings of God on people. Thank you for your quiet and positive leadership.’
Bishop Lieschke served as a parish pastor in Glandore–Underdale in South Australia, Palmerston North and Marton–Halmcombe in New Zealand, and Wagga Wagga New South Wales. He also served as school pastor at Wagga Wagga Lutheran School. A former chair of the LCA’s CTICR, he is currently a consultant to the commission.
Pastor Robert Bartholomaeus of Immanuel, Woden Valley in the ACT, was elected to the position of Assistant Bishop for the New South Wales District.
Bishop-elect Haak will be installed early in 2018.