The Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) is mourning the death of its recently-elected Bishop of NSW, James Haak, who died suddenly on October 20.
On the day of his death, Haak was booked to fly home to Sydney from Adelaide, where he had been attending meetings. Instead, he was taken to hospital by ambulance after experiencing chest pains in the early morning. Haak died from a heart-related condition around 7am.
“The news of his sudden death has really rocked us,” – Robert Bartholomaeus
Haak only had been Bishop of the New South Wales District for nine months. He was in Adelaide to attend the first meeting of the new General Church Board, which he was elected to earlier this month.
“James was settling into the role of bishop very nicely,” NSW Assistant Bishop Robert Bartholomaeus told Eternity. “He appeared just what we needed as a leader in the Lutheran Church of NSW at this time.
“He had skills in strategic thinking and in seeing the big picture. His leadership was already having a positive effect across our district after only nine months in the position of bishop.”
Speaking only days after Haak’s unexpected death, Bartholomaeus admitted to not understanding why this would happen now.
“The news of his sudden death has really rocked us,” Bartholomaeus said about the LCA community. “We wonder what God is doing. Why did he give us the leader we thought we needed, but then take him away so quickly?
“But we join with Job who said, ‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised.’ We will come through this stronger in faith and in confidence that God is leading us and knows what is best for us.”
“God’s ways are not always the ways that we believe or imagine.” – James Haak
Haak had previously served as an assistant bishop in Queensland District, and held leadership positions in the LCA’s Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations, Queensland District Church Council and Queensland District Finance Committee.
Significantly, Haak also had spent 32 years in parish ministry throughout Queensland and in South Australia.
Speaking at his election in September 2017, Haak said his being made bishop was “unexpected”, adding: “It shows once again that God’s ways are not always the ways that we believe or imagine.”
Haak leaves behind his wife Marie and two adult children, Aiden and Annie.
His funeral will be held on October 30 at Peace Lutheran Church in Gatton, Queensland. Further details can be found on the Lutheran Church of Australia website.