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Rick Hoyme installed as bishop of the Northwest Wisconsin Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Richard Hoyme accepts his call as bishop of the Northwest Wisconsin Synod of the ELCA, and asks for God’s help and guidance. Metro Lutheran photo: Bob Hulteen

The Rev. Richard Hoyme was installed as bishop of the Northwest Wisconsin Synod of the ELCA during a September 8 service at Trinity Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson presided, and the Rev. Martin Overson, pastor of Desert Hills Lutheran Church, Green Valley, Arizona, was the preacher.

“God did really well for you with him,” assured Overson. “Rick is a lot like Moses,” he said to some laughter. “Moses was able to recognize the burning bush. He stopped and everything changed because of that.

“I believe there are burning bushes all the time around the world,” Overson continued. What’s needed is people who are set free to say “I’ll go” when God speaks.”

Overson told Hoyme that those who follow sometimes need to go where no one else would, even to places with few Lutherans. “That is because the burning bushes are not in here [in churches]; they are out there [in the world],” he continued.

“Go make disciples; go make a difference,” said Overson to Hoyme.

A word of hope

Hoyme is clear about the position to which he has been called by the members of the Northwest Wisconsin Synod. “This is one of those times in the church when we really are at a pivot point,” he told Metro Lutheran. “Everything that came before is important, but so much doesn’t seem helpful right now.

Hoyme believes Lutherans are looking for bishops who are kind, firm, and gifted leaders.

“People are looking to their bishop, their pastor, their rostered leader for direction, for hope, for a word that their churches aren’t going to close.”

Hoyme believes Lutherans are looking for bishops who are kind, firm, and gifted leaders who can identify and encourage other church leaders. “Where we have healthy leaders, we will have a healthy church,” he said.

“Bishops need to empower pastors and rostered leaders to learn how to take care of each other. If we forget to do this, then we forget how to do this.”

Acknowledging that the installation was on the ELCA’s “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday of service, Hoyme explained that the synod staff, about a month ago, put on the celebration’s yellow shirts and went to Luther Park Bible Camp in Chetek, Wisconsin, to split wood and prepare for the annual quilt auction. “We are committed to be leaders who serve,” he explained.

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