‘God is a God of surprises. At the beginning of this year I would never have envisaged this as my next call’, Pastor Lester Priebbenow told the LCA District of Victoria and Tasmania after the announcement of his election as bishop.
‘But God is also a God of provision, and when I was nominated I knew that, if elected, he would also give me what I need in order to do it’, he said at last month’s district convention in Shepparton, Victoria.
District Bishop Greg Pietsch announced his intention not to stand for a fourth term in March 2016 after serving for 12 years, first as president, then bishop in Victoria and Tasmania. Bishop Pietsch remains in office until the end of 2016. He was also LCA Assistant Bishop from 2013 to 2015.
In material provided to delegates to the district convention, Pastor Priebbenow said about the role of bishop: ‘As the spiritual leader of the district, he is pastor to the pastors. As such his role is to oversee the ministry of word and sacrament in its parishes and to support the servants of the word in their vocations’. Speaking after his election, he said: ‘I passionately feel that we [the LCA] need to continue to be a church of the word. The distractions and pressures of society increasingly seek to move us away from the word.’
The Priebbenows have four married children and have been involved in parish ministry for 32 years, serving in New South Wales (Gilgandra/Dubbo and Walla Walla), then at Tarrington, Victoria, before his current call to Our Redeemer, North Geelong in 2008.
The service of Bishop Pietsch and his wife Judy was formally acknowledged during the convention, as was that of Assistant Bishop Andrew Brook and his wife Jodi, together with former District Administrator Dinu Stamatescu. Pastor Matt Anker of St Pauls, Shepparton, and Trinity, Echuca, was elected to the position of Assistant Bishop.
Bishop Pietsch will be formally farewelled in December and Bishop-elect Priebbenow will be installed in January or February.