Pastor Mark Vainikka will be the next LCA Queensland District bishop. He was elected unopposed during the District Convention of Synod at Eight Mile Plains in Brisbane’s south last weekend (4–6 June).
He will succeed Bishop Paul Smith, who has served in the role since June 2015 and did not seek re-election.
Pastor Mark was born in Helsinki, Finland, and immigrated to Australia with his family as a child. He is married to Minna and they have three adult children.
Ordained in 2002, Bishop-elect Mark has served the Queensland District in parish ministry, school ministry and as the full-time first assistant bishop. He was the vice-president/assistant bishop for eight years and most recently the first assistant bishop since 2018 and the full-time first assistant bishop since 2019.
Addressing District Synod after his election, he said: ‘It’s very humbling. You have entrusted me to be your bishop. It is a call to serve you.’ He referred to the assurance he finds in the words of the well-loved hymn ‘Be still my soul’: Be still my soul: your God will undertake to guide the future as he has the past; your hope your confidence let nothing shake, all now mysterious shall be clear at last.
Pastor Ben Hentschke of Queensland’s Ipswich Parish will succeed Pastor Mark as the District’s first assistant bishop, while Pastor Nathan Glover of St Andrews Lutheran College Tallebudgera is the second assistant bishop-elect.
Meanwhile, Pastor Matthias Prenzler of the Goulburn Murray Parish will be the next assistant bishop of the Victoria-Tasmania District, which held its Convention of Synod at Geelong Lutheran College on 22 May. He will succeed Pastor Richard Schulze of Luther College Croydon, who was appointed to the post when the previous assistant bishop, Pastor Mat Ker, accepted a call to serve in South Australia from 2020.
Victoria-Tasmania District Bishop Lester Priebbenow, who has served in that role since 2017 and who was elected for an initial three synodical terms, was not up for re-election last month.
Before its convention, Victoria’s District Church Council offered opportunities for delegates and interested members to take part in online meetings, so they could more fully understand some of the implications and reasons behind proposals they would vote on at Convention.
Also last month, Pastor David Altus was re-elected unopposed for a further two-year term as bishop of the South Australia – Northern Territory District at its 49th Convention of Synod, held at Tanunda.
Bishop Altus first led the district in late 2009, when he was installed as the SA–NT president, as the position was then known. He was also re-elected as bishop by the 2014, 2016 and 2018 district synods.
Pastor Andrew Brook of St Johns Unley was elected to serve as first assistant bishop, succeeding Pastor Tim Klein, while Pastor Joel Cramer of The Ark congregation Salisbury, is the SA–NT second assistant bishop-elect, succeeding Pastor Eugene Minge.
The Lutheran Church of New Zealand Synod will meet in convention at Upper Moutere this coming weekend (12–13 June). LCNZ Bishop Mark Whitfield is halfway through his third four-year term and that role will not be up for election this weekend. However, the position of assistant bishop will be voted on, with the incumbent, Pastor Jim Pietsch, again nominated.
Earlier this year, Bishop Mike Fulwood was returned for his third two-year term leading the Western Australia District in a part-time capacity, along with serving in parish ministry at St Lukes Parkwood. Western Australia Assistant Bishop Peter Hage of St Johns Perth was also returned for a further two-year term in his role.
The LCANZ’s New South Wales District Synod will not hold a Convention of Synod this year.