The Episcopal Diocese of Lexington on Saturday elected a Georgia native as its seventh bishop.
The Very Rev. Douglas Hahn, 60, received the majority of votes from clergy and lay delegates after two rounds of balloting at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Lexington. Hahn was selected from a field of six candidates chosen from among more than 30 applicants. One candidate withdrew before the tallying of the first round of votes.
As bishop, Hahn will oversee the diocese's 35 congregations in Central and Eastern Kentucky.
Hahn succeeds the Rev. Stacy Sauls, who served as bishop from 2000 to 2011. Sauls left the diocese last year to take a position with the national Episcopal Church. The Rev. Chilton Knudsen, retired bishop of Maine, has served as interim bishop during the transition period.
Hahn was selected by 45 clergy and 120 lay delegates. After the first round of voting, Hahn had a lead, with 20 votes from the clergy and 43 from the lay delegation, but he did not have a majority. After a second round of voting, Hahn received 26 votes from the clergy and 67 from the lay delegation.
"We have an election," Knudsen announced. The clergy and delegates cheered.
Knudsen then called Hahn.
"To be elected on the second ballot, it is a confirmation of God's will," Knudsen said. Hahn told the gathering via phone that he was "excited for our future together."
Hahn will begin his duties in mid-October, and he will be consecrated in a service scheduled Dec. 15.
Hahn graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in history. He received a master's of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and later received a doctor of ministry in pastoral leadership at the University of the South.
Although he has spent much of his career in Georgia, Hahn has deep ties to Kentucky. Both of his parents are from Kentucky, and he spent summers in Mercer County at his uncles' and aunts' farms.
"I have a deep love and understanding of the culture of Kentucky," Hahn said in an interview after his election.
Hahn is now rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ga., in the Diocese of Atlanta. He is also a dean in the Episcopal Church, overseeing five towns, seven parishes and 12 priests. He and his wife, Kaye, have three adult children.
Hahn said that his family ties drew him to apply for the position and that when he visited and found out more about the diocese, he was energized by what he saw.
"I was very excited about the ministries they do," Hahn said. "They also have a young and talented clergy. They do a lot outside of the walls of the church and are a very innovative group of people."
Hahn said he intends to focus on working with the church's clergy.
"One of the things that I have a great passion for is to nurture priests. Healthy priests make for healthy parishes," Hahn said. "The second thing that I would like to do is help the parishes shine their lights into their communities."
Hahn said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve.
"I feel a great sense of hope," he said.