Pastor Robert Bartholomaeus has been installed as bishop of the LCA’s New South Wales District by LCA Bishop John Henderson.
Bishop Bartholomaeus, who was appointed to the district post after the sudden death of then New South Wales Bishop James Haak last October, was elected unopposed to continue in the role during a special district synod on 23 March. The election is for two synodical terms – the 12-months remainder of the current term and the following two-year term.
Pastor Bartholomaeus had served the district as vice-president – as the assistant bishop position was formerly known – from 2008 to 2013 and was assistant bishop from 2015, vacating that role when he took on the bishop’s position. He has continued to serve as pastor to Immanuel Lutheran congregation at Woden Valley in the ACT and has been assisted as bishop by the district’s regional pastors, including Pastor Richard Schwedes, who has been serving as additional pastor to the District Church Council (DCC).
Bishop Bartholomaeus, who plans to move to Sydney later this year, said while coming to the role in the wake of Bishop Haak’s death was difficult, he was honoured to be elected.
‘With the sudden death of James, I found being thrown into the job rather stressful’, he said. ‘But over the next months I grew into the role and people kept saying that I would be good at it. I took this to be God’s call on me to stand for the job.’
While he said many Lutheran churches currently were struggling to survive, he said it was an exciting time for the district, due to new churches being planted and many other opportunities for mission emerging across the state.
‘The NSW District is at a critical point of opportunity, with new church plants progressing in three centres across the state’, he said. ‘I pray we will see the new church planting ventures flourish and more centres learn to do the same. All this new activity will have a positive ripple effect across all of our congregations.’
Also at the one-day convention at Warrambui Retreat & Conference Centre, Murrumbateman, just north of Canberra, Pastor Schwedes was elected as assistant bishop for one synodical term. He will continue to serve as pastor to St Paul’s Sydney congregation at Darlinghurst in the inner-city and Redeemer Narraweena in Sydney’s northern beaches area.
Pastor Christian Fandrich, who also was nominated by District Pastors Conference for the role of assistant bishop, was elected as the new additional pastor to DCC. Pastor Fandrich serves the Burrumbuttock Parish in the NSW Riverina area.
Pastors Schwedes and Fandrich were installed in their district roles at the synod meeting by Bishop Bartholomaeus, who also preached at the worship service on the text Psalm 146:3–9.
The next NSW District Convention of Synod will be held in March 2020, having been postponed from October this year. The district’s synodical terms will then revert back to two years.