by Rosie Schefe

Pastor Nich Kitchen is the new Assistant Bishop for the Lutheran Church of New Zealand (LCNZ), following the unexpected early retirement of former assistant bishop, Pastor Jim Pietsch.

Elected to the position by his fellow pastors on 1 September, Pastor Nich said he accepted the nomination to the position to serve with Bishop Mark Whitfield because he had a heart for the Lutheran Church of New Zealand, where he grew up in faith. He felt this was a time when he needed to step up.

Ordained at the end of 2014, Pastor Nich served in the Victoria-Tasmania District: first in the Northern Tasmania parish and then as an interim pastor in Mildura.

He was installed as pastor at Mountainside Lutheran Church in Auckland in August 2018.

Mountainside is one of New Zealand’s larger congregations and is its most diverse in cultural identity, serving members from 26 different countries spread across all continents except Antarctica. Approximately 85 per cent of Mountainside’s members are bilingual.

The congregation is part of the LCANZ Cross-Cultural Ministry network, which intentionally links congregations with culturally diverse memberships. Pastor Nich himself has been a consultant to the LCANZ Department of Local Mission’s Committee for Cross-Cultural Ministry since 2021.

Pastor Jim Pietsch retired suddenly from active ministry and his call to St Paul’s Wellington early in August, in direct response to family need – to support his wife Grace as she cares for her ailing mother in Indonesia. Pastor Jim led his final service on 7 August, and the next day flew to join family members in Jakarta.

Pastor Jim was ordained in 1982, celebrating 40 years of ministry in January. He served in parishes at Whyalla and Waikerie in South Australia, and in the Melton, St Albans and Sunbury congregations in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne. He also served a term as manager of theological books at Openbook Publishers.

Pastor Jim arrived in Wellington on Anzac Day 2013 and served at St Pauls for more than nine years.

He served as pastors’ representative on the LCNZ’s Council of Synod from 2015, then assistant bishop from 2017 until his retirement. The appointment of the assistant bishop is made by the Synod of LCNZ on the nomination of the pastors, and as Pastor Jim’s retirement came between conventions, the Council of Synod has appointed Pastor Nich to this position on the nomination of the pastors.

Rosie Schefe is Lutheran Church of New Zealand District Administrator and former editor of The Lutheran.

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