Bishop's September Message

Bishop's September Message

Grace and Peace to you!

I hope that the transition from summer to the start of a new program year is going well for you.

One major transition among us is that Ron Griffin has accepted a call to be Rector of St. Timothy’s, Mountain View. Please join me in giving thanks for Ron’s faithful and fruitful ministry among us, and in praying God’s blessing upon Ron and Charlotte as they move on. They will be greatly missed. Pray also for the people of Christ Church, Eureka, as they begin to think about next steps. I am pleased to be able to announce that Sara Potter has accepted my appointment to become the new Dean of Semper Virens Deanery.

On the subject of transitions: we have now said our good-byes to Jenifer Campo, who served faithfully and well under two bishops, and through many changes and challenges. We pray God’s blessing upon her as she moves on to Principal Funds. We pray God’s blessing also upon Thea Mangels as she assumes her new duties as my Executive Assistant. You will be hearing more about the successful search for Thea’s replacement soon.

Please don’t let all the recent announcements about staff changes in the Office of the Bishop confuse anyone in your congregations. New positions and new faces don’t mean that we have a bigger staff. We have reduced the size of our staff by about 20 percent since I became bishop. The remaining positions have been reconfigured according to the three Strategic Priorities established by the Board and Council back in May 2008, as a result of the Vision Conference: Youth and Young Adult ministry, Communications, and Congregational Development (with special emphasis on Stewardship and Evangelism). A year ago, Council did a formal assessment of the YAYA and Communications ministry positions that were created in support of those Priorities, and determined to continue those positions. Our current staffing is in line with what the Restructuring Committee called for last year, and their proposal for organizational change (which you initially approved at Convention last November) assumes that such a staff will be in place going forward. We are right where we said we needed to be with regard to staffing for mission and ministry in this diocese, as we live into our Vision together.

As you help your congregations, remember that all this reduction and re-configuring of staff is tied to our Vision; I ask you to remind them what that Vision is and how we arrived at it. Remind them that it is the result of a process that took many months and actively engaged over 2,000 people. Our Vision, our Mission, our Mission Strategy, and our Strategic Priorities have been the criteria we have applied to every major decision since: the creation of new ministries and programs, the growth of Total Ministry, the expansion of the diaconate, the creation of alternate paths to ordination, encouragement of emergent ministries, restructuring of the Diocese, reconstituting deaneries, the elimination of our budget deficit, the most recent (and plans for the next) phase of apportionment reform --all of these major projects and more are simply aspects of our overall commitment to live the Vision; they are parts of a comprehensive unfolding, and none should be thought of apart from our Vision.

Late last year, guided by an independent church consultant firm, this Diocese did an extensive survey of diocesan and congregational leadership, to see if we needed to make course corrections in our Vision work, or revision to our Strategic Priorities. You are familiar with the results: over 500 respondents (!) overwhelmingly affirmed the work we have been doing to make our Vision real, and gave strong endorsement to the trajectory we are on.

That trajectory assumes that we will do another round of apportionment reform, with a concern to keep more congregational resources available at the congregational level, for local expressions of our common Mission. The first round of reform, and resulting cuts in apportionment, was the outcome of the work of Board and Council; they led us in a diocese-wide, wide-open process that invited apportionment reform ideas from the congregations, explored those ideas, distilled them into a specific proposal, and presented that proposal to Convention in the form of a resolution. We then passed that resolution at Convention 2009; further action to forgive arrearages and create a system of rebates was passed at Convention the following year. Board and Council’s plan calls for us to begin in 2012 to undertake a process like the one we did in 2009, culminating in a resolution to be placed before Convention 2013.

As a way of helping to move that process forward, I am asking that every congregation in this Diocese have a discussion about apportionment in the next couple of months. Please take care to frame that discussion in terms of our Vision, our Mission, our Mission Strategy, and our Strategic Priorities. (This would be a very good opportunity to remind people what those are, and how we arrived at them.) Then, give your very best ideas to you delegates, to bring to Convention. This year, we will have time at Convention for table-group discussion, and I intend for that discussion to include a sharing of ideas about the next step in apportionment reform. Assuming that Convention gives final approval to our restructuring plan, the new Trustees of the Diocese will take up those ideas and begin to work on them this December. In the meantime, while this process leading to phase two of comprehensive apportionment reform goes forward, I will be asking Board and Council at their meeting next month to consider a plan for immediate apportionment relief. I expect that plan to come before this Convention, for implementation next year.

Yours in our common Mission,

+Barry

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