James Hazelwood: Find spirituality in the everyday

www.faithandleadership.com | 8/20/2019 | Staff
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Bishop James Hazelwood’s path to ministry was unconventional.

Before becoming bishop of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Hazelwood was an ice cream scooper, a disc jockey, a professional photographer and a parish pastor.

College - California - Lutheran - University - College

In college at California Lutheran University, he revitalized a college radio station, launched an underground newspaper and brought the first punk rock concert to a Christian college auditorium. As an “unchurched” summer counselor at a Lutheran outdoor camp, he became interested in environmental education, politics and justice, and Christian mysticism.

These varied experiences all helped Hazelwood formulate the concept for his new book, “Everyday Spirituality,” which encourages readers to “reverse-engineer” spirituality -- that is, to discover how God is a part of simple, everyday activities. The book comes out Aug. 27.

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“I’m not very good at sitting and meditating, but I can meditate on a walk, through a hike. I can meditate when I’m on my bicycle. I can meditate while I’m swimming,” Hazelwood said. “So there’s kind of a kinesthetic spirituality there that really resonates for me.”

Hazelwood spoke with Faith & Leadership’s Katie Rosso about his book and how to put everyday spirituality into practice. The following is an edited transcript.

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Faith & Leadership: Something you’ve talked about publicly is the “struggle of spirituality.” How is that addressed in your work?

James Hazelwood: There’s a twofold struggle for me. The first [element] is collective, what I’ve seen in congregations, and the other is personal. Collectively, I can remember being in seminary and wanting to take classes on spirituality. A professor said to me, “Lutherans have a problem with spirituality.”

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I didn’t know what he meant at the time. But after I was elected bishop, I learned that mainline Protestants do have a problem with spirituality. There are all these instruments out there to measure congregational health, and...
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