RELIGION

Utah’s Episcopal Diocese leader is retiring after 12 years of leadership

Sep 14, 2022, 8:00 PM | Updated: Sep 15, 2022, 11:18 am

Bishop Scott Hayashi, the leader of Utah’s Episcopal Diocese, is retiring. He and his wife, Amy, have three adult daughters. The couple is moving to Washington.

Bishop Hayashi became Utah’s 11th Episcopal Bishop on November 6, 2010, and for the past twelve years, he has been a voice of calm and friendship in interfaith relationships in the communities.

“With this hat, I have now achieved a goal I have been chasing for many years, which is to be six feet tall!” Hayashi brought a sense of humor and his trademark kindness.

“I wanted to present to the diocese, which is to say the Episcopalians, the importance of having relationships with people who are different than we are and learning from people who don’t necessarily believe or think like us. And that having those relationships made us better people.”

When Hayashi was asked why he thinks people still need to hear from religious leaders in their community. The answer for him is always recognizing a higher power.

“I think as a people, we’ve become very quick too, to condemn and to judge others solely upon where we happen to stand politically – and it makes me very sad,” he said.

“And because there is something much larger than simply ourselves, then we can stand next to each other as fellow human beings, religious people have the possibility of meeting together around a common belief in God, not that we all agree about who we think God is or how we think God works, but rather common belief.”

As a religious leader, Bishop Hayashi has stood up for, as he says, the marginalized in our society – the homeless, the poor, and the LGBTQ community.

“Jesus, Himself spoke about the poor and those who are in need. And so as the bishop, I had the opportunity to be able to step into that place, and by virtue of my position to be able to get up from my desk, go up to the Capitol, to speak at a hearing.”

He has championed gun safety as well.

“Whether it be safety locks, whether it be extreme risk protection orders, universal background checks, not to do away with the Second Amendment, but rather to put in safeguards for all of us.”

Bishop Hayashi traveled twice to Cuba with other Episcopal leaders to meet and minister to congregants. He said the Cubans were so welcoming, warm, and filled with a sense of community.

“They live together, they work together, peacefully, and they help each other. And there’s a great deal to be learned from them because they see each other as friend and neighbor.”

And in the Holy Land, he said he wondered if he would be truly moved. But he found himself thinking of Christ’s Apostles and wondered, “What did they think they could do?” Then he realized often they touched just one.

“…and these small little acts of kindness might be what, what saves the life or the lives of many people just because, and you or me? If we go to speak and think, what am I going to accomplish? But if we don’t, then nothing’s going to happen.”

When Bishop Hayashi was asked how it all started and why he decided to enter the ministry, he wanted to learn more about his connection with God.

“What I had was a lot of questions. It was a place to be able to study and learn. And that led me more deeply into connecting with God but then also by virtue of that connecting with people. Then it became less about trying to get answers to ultimate questions, then, how do I, as a person, best embody the love of God?”

His message to us all, the people of the Episcopal Diocese, the people of Utah – be kind.

“Love is of God. And many of us, most of us, want to see God. Make this world more closely, resemble or help it to become the place that I believe God wanted it to be when God created us.”

This man of faith, so many say, will be greatly missed.

Bishop Hayashi will remain on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, and they plan to volunteer at the local food bank and animal shelter. Amy is a gardener and looking forward to a longer growing season. And Bishop Hayashi said he wants to take a class and learn how to build guitar amplifiers.

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Utah’s Episcopal Diocese leader is retiring after 12 years of leadership