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Oregon Chooses New Bishop in First Zoom Election

By Kirk Petersen

The Rev. Dr. Diana Akiyama, currently a parish priest and dean of a diocesan school for clergy formation in Hawaii, was elected the XI Bishop of Oregon on August 29, in the first bishop election conducted virtually.

Diana Akiyama

Akiyama received a majority of the votes in both the lay and clergy orders on the second ballot, out of a field of four candidates. Assuming she receives the necessary endorsements from more than half of the diocesan bishops and standing committees, she is scheduled to be consecrated at Trinity Cathedral in Portland on January 30, 2021. She will succeed the Rt. Rev. Michael Hanley, who has served as bishop since 2010.

The Portland-based Diocese of Oregon shares the state with the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, based in Cove, Oregon.

“I am honored and overwhelmed to be elected your next bishop, and I am so looking forward to coming and joining with you in doing the work that is in front of us to do at this time, in our country and in our church,” the bishop-elect said in a brief video appearance at the end of the Zoom convention. “We have good and joyful work to do.”

The Oregon-born Akiyama grew up in the Japanese-American community in Hood River in the eastern part of the state, and was ordained a priest in 1989 by the then-Bishop of Eastern Oregon, the late Rustin Kimsey. She was the first Japanese-American woman to become an Episcopal priest.

After serving in a variety of academic and diocesan roles in the Diocese of Los Angeles, she moved to Hawaii in 2014 to become dean of the Waiolaihui’ia School for Formation, which is operated by the diocese. Since 2015 she has also been vicar of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Kapaau, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Others on the ballot were the Rev. Mary Caucutt, rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Cody, Wyoming; the Rev. Andrew T. O’Connor, rector of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Wichita, Kansas; and the Rev. Canon Tanya R. Wallace, rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

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