NH church elects Mass. priest for Episcopal bishop

By LYNNE TUOHY | May 19, 2012 | 2:35 PM EDT

This is an undated photo provided by Louis Karno & Company Communications of the Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, rector of the Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, Mass. He is one of three candidates on the ballot to be voted on Saturday May 19, 2012, by the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire to be elected Bishop Coadjutor to succeed the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson, who retires in January 2013. (AP Photo/Louis Karno & Company Communications LLC, Reynolds Winslow)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A Massachusetts priest will succeed Bishop Gene Robinson as New Hampshire's next Episcopal bishop.

A delegation of clergy and lay people chose the Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld of Grace Church in Amherst from a field of three nominees. Votes were cast Saturday at St. Paul's Church in Concord.

If approved at the church's national convention in July, Hirschfeld will succeed Robinson when he steps down in January after serving nine years as the state's ninth Episcopal bishop.

Robinson's consecration in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church created an international uproar and led conservative Episcopalians to break away from the main church in the U.S.

Hirschfeld was born in Minnesota and grew up in Connecticut, where he served at a number of churches.