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Episcopal delegates meeting Saturday at St. Mark's Cathedral burst into joyous applause with the announcement the Rev. Scott Hayashi had been elected as their 11th bishop to replace Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish, who will retire this fall.
The bells of the cathedral, built in 1870 in downtown Salt Lake City, rang out the news for more than 15 minutes as parishioners, many wearing red to symbolize Pentecost and the Holy Spirit, stood and exuberantly sang, "Holy God We Praise Thy Name."
Hayashi, rector at Ogden's Good Shepherd church from 1989 to 1998 before leaving to become a diocesan administrator in Chicago, emerged as the choice to lead an estimated 5,200 Episcopalians in the state after only two rounds of balloting at a special convention attended by priests, deacons and lay members.
Hayashi received 73 of 138 lay delegate votes and 20 of 38 clergy votes, a simple majority and all that was needed to be elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese, which covers all of Utah and includes Page, Ariz. It took five ballots to reach that threshold during Irish's election in 1996, according to the diocese.
"I was very honored and surprised in many ways that it happened on the second ballot," Hayashi said in a telephone interview from Chicago. "One doesn't believe it until it happens. I'm still trying to take it all in."
The bishop-elect said he was thrilled to return "home" to Utah and looked forward to meeting every member and visiting every church in the far-flung diocese.
"It is important to hear from the people not only what they are excited about but where they're hurting," he said. "My big picture vision would be to move the diocese not only where the Holy Spirit would be calling us but where people in the diocese want us to go."
Familiarity with the state will be a definite advantage for the new bishop, said the Rev. Pete Poggemeyer of Good Shepherd, who worked with Hayashi when he was rector there.
"He has a good knowledge of the diocese," Poggemeyer said. "And he has the same goals as we do."
Hayashi is clearly aware of the challenges facing a minority faith in a state dominated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He said Saturday he relishes the chance to establish positive relationships with other faith leaders, including other Protestants, Catholics and Mormons.
"I would certainly want our diocese to be one that is very relational, understanding what great movements of faith are in lives of people," he said. "I want our people to be able to speak about their faith and why they are Episcopalians as well as Latter-day Saints speak about their faith."
Another vision is to grow the diocese.
When Irish was consecrated, there were 6,000 Episcopalians in Utah. Now there are about 5,200 -- a 13 percent drop during a period in which the state's population swelled by 37 percent.
On any given Sunday, only 1,600 are in the pews of Utah's 25 Episcopal congregations, Hayashi noted during his "walkabout" meetings in Utah a few weeks ago.
"He's one of the most charismatic, powerful and dynamic speakers I've heard," said Ray Kattler of Grace Church in St. George. "I hope he can solve our problems. We're losing parishioners. We need institutional growth."
Hayashi was one of four finalists. The other three were the Rev. Michael Barlowe, an openly gay -- and married -- priest, canon for congregational ministries for the California Diocese California; the Rev. Mary Suleruda, a former arts administrator who has worked for the Washington, D.C., Diocese for nearly two decades; and the Rev. Juan Quevedo-Bosch, a Cuban native who guides a working-class parish on Long Island.
After the election, Irish praised Hayashi as "an outstanding leader and a good Christian."
Hayashi will be consecrated Nov. 6 by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at the Grand America Hotel and be seated at the cathedral the next day.
2005 - present » Canon to the Ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago.
1998-2005 » Rector of Christ Church Episcopal in Portola Valley/Woodside, Calif.
1989-1998 » Rector of The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ogden.
1984-1989 » Vicar of St. John the Baptist Episcopal Mission in Ephraita, Wash., and St. Dunstan's Episcopal Mission in Grand Coulee, Wash.
Born » Tacoma, Wash., in 1953
Education » Received bachelor's of social work degree from University of Washington, 1977; master's of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, 1981
Ordained » 1984
Family » Married to Amy Perlman O'Donnell. They have three daughters.