CONCORD, N.H. — The Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, is confronting changes in more than just his job as he gets acquainted with his new role and with church members in a new state.
He is also dealing with the logistics of planning a move from Massachusetts and a new phase of life as he and his wife become ‘‘empty nesters’’ for the first time.
Hirschfeld will be ordained in a ceremony Saturday at the Capital Center for the Arts, and he will work alongside Bishop Gene Robinson until Robinson’s retirement in January.
Hirschfeld, 50, has been rector of Grace Church in Amherst for the past 11 years. He was elected in May from a field of three candidates to lead New Hampshire’s approximately 14,000 Episcopalians in 47 congregations throughout the state.
Hirschfeld told the Associated Press this week that he and his wife, Polly Ingraham, are grappling with putting their home on the market, living without any children at home, and the prospects of a commuter marriage as Hirschfeld house-hunts in New Hampshire and she teaches at a private school in Fitchburg.
The family’s two oldest children are in college, and the youngest will be a resident at his private school in Deerfield until the housing transitions are settled.
‘‘Suddenly we’re empty nesters, and that’s something of a shock at this time,’’ Hirschfeld said.
Hirschfeld said he feels honored, not daunted, to be following in the footsteps of a bishop who sparked international headlines and controversy when he was ordained in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican communion.
‘‘I feel kind of humble the people of New Hampshire would choose me to follow him,’’ Hirschfeld said during an interview this week.
‘‘I think all of us have a particular role to play in the opening of the table, God’s table, for all God’s children, black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight.’’
Robinson has been a ‘‘steadfastly courageous steward of that role I believe God gave him,” Hirschfield said.
“I think my style of leadership will be a little different, and that’s OK.’’
The bishop-elect said he plans to spend the coming months listening and learning and getting to know the people of his new diocese.
‘‘I’m just eager to hear more about what’s on their hearts and minds,’’ he said.
‘‘My own experience is that we are pulled in so many directions — sometimes opposing directions, sometimes colliding directions — and so many of us are just frazzled and tired, and we forget what it means to be fully human, to be created by a loving God who wants nothing more than the absolute best, beyond our wildest dreams,” Hirschfeld said.
Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, will lead Saturday’s consecration and ordination ceremony.
Hirschfeld’s title will be bishop coadjutor until Robinson’s retirement Jan. 5.