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Update from the Standing Committee: October 19, 2020

Dear Friends,
 
We realize that it’s been a while since you have heard from us, and we’d like to offer an update regarding our ministry on behalf of the diocese. Following our recent diocesan convention, we’ve been receiving some questions about the transition, leading us to believe it would be a good idea to share where things are at this point. We will do this in a question and answer (Q & A) format. We plan to communicate with you more regularly moving forward.
 
Q: Why are we going to have an Assisting/Provisional Bishop instead of continuing the search for a new bishop as originally planned?
A: When the pandemic first hit the search committee needed to take a step back because of all the restrictions and we had not yet come to a point where technology was as widely used as it is now. As time went on, we realized that as we searched for our next bishop in that landscape, it would be increasingly difficult to find people who would be in a place to discern along with us whether Milwaukee was a fit for them. Once we decided to bring in an Assisting/Provisional Bishop, we also began to see the possibilities that having this interim time in between Bishops would allow the diocese to do some intentional work to discern who we are and what we want and need in our next Bishop.
 
Q: Are you talking with people now about fulfilling the roles of Assisting Bishop and Provisional Bishop?
A: Yes. We are talking to several people, and once we have Letters of Agreements signed and their permission, we will announce their names to the diocese.
 
Q: When does the Assisting Bishop start?
A: Our plan is to have an Assisting Bishop begin ministry with us on January 1, 2021.
 
Q: What does an Assisting Bishop do?
A: The Assisting Bishop will be a resource for the Standing Committee, offering us advice and guidance in a variety of ways. This person will check in at our monthly Standing Committee meeting and lead special processes that are reserved for a bishop. These include specific issues related to the clergy. This person will also be available for “episcopal acts” — meaning roles that are reserved in our Church for a bishop. This will largely be an on-call position. The Assisting Bishop will already be a bishop prior to working with us.
 
Q: Is the Assisting Bishop the ecclesiastical authority in the diocese?
A: No, the Assisting Bishop, as the name suggests, assists the Standing Committee for the few months that we are the ecclesiastical authority in the diocese.
 
Q: When does the Provisional Bishop start? 
A: The Provisional Bishop designee will begin ministry with us on or very close to April 1, 2021. We use the word “designee” because this person will need to be elected as Provisional Bishop in a special diocesan convention for that purpose. The Provisional Bishop will already be a bishop before working with us.
 
Q: What will the Provisional Bishop do?  
A: The Provisional Bishop will serve in many respects like any diocesan bishop. They will engage in episcopal acts such as visitations, confirmations, ordinations, etc. They will be a “Shepherd to the shepherds,” working with our clergy. They will engage in the ministry of administration, overseeing diocesan staff and the entities within the diocese. This person will also do some of the work that an interim rector might do in a parish.
 
Q: What kind of work do you mean?
A: Well, following two bishops with very long tenures (Bishop White was with us for 19 years and, more recently, Bishop Miller was with us for 17 years), now is a good time for us to step back and take a “diocesan inventory” of sorts. We want to give our parishes and their members a chance to reflect on our common life together and share the stories, heartbreaks and joys that have marked our shared mission and ministry. We want to examine our diocesan culture, organization, priorities and goals. We may also want to enter into dialogue with the other dioceses in Wisconsin and talk about how we might share mission and ministry together. Looking at all of these issues and others that may arise will better equip us to call our next bishop. During the time that the Provisional Bishop is with us and involved in all of this important ministry, we intend to call together a Search Committee to begin the process of calling our next bishop.
 
Q: Will the Provisional be full-time?
A: The Provisional Bishop will most likely work part-time, at 50%.
 
Q: How long will we have a Provisional Bishop?
A: We’re thinking two years, maybe a bit longer.
 
Q: Is the Standing Committee currently the ecclesiastical (church) authority in the diocese?
A: No. Bishop Steven Miller is our diocesan bishop until he officially retires on December 31, 2020. After the bishop’s formal retirement on December 31, 2020, the Standing Committee will be the ecclesiastical authority in the diocese. We’ll have the Assisting Bishop to help us, as well as diocesan staff and the leadership in our diocese, lay and ordained. When the Provisional Bishop is elected, then that person will be the ecclesiastical authority and Standing Committee will resume its more traditional role in our diocesan life.
 
Q: If we have more questions for the Standing Committee, how can we get them to you? 
A: Contact Fr. Scott Leannah, the President of the Standing Committee, or Sara Bitner, diocesan Communications Officer.
 
Q: Is the Standing Committee a faithful, hopeful and dedicated group of people?
A: We hope so! By the grace of God, we feel blessed to serve in this way at this time.

Standing Committee Members

The Rev. Scott Leannah (President)
Ms. Tammy Prather
Ms. Celia Fine
The Rev. Andrew Jones
The Rev. Jana Troutman-Miller
Mr. Marcus White
Ms. Margaret Done
The Rev. Dave Mowers

Update from the Standing Committee: March 5, 2020

Dear Friends,

Our search for the next bishop of the Diocese of Milwaukee is underway. To date, a number of developments have taken place: 

  • The Search Committee and the Chaplain to the Search Committee have been named.
  • Our diocesan consultant, the Rev. Ann Hallisey, has been consulting with Standing Committee. She led the annual diocesan clergy conference at DeKoven Center this past January. She has conducted a training retreat for the Search Committee and continues to provide them with guidance, insight and a clear process to follow.
  • We have crafted a prayer to be offered by all in the diocese as we engage in this holy work*
  • We have worked with Bishop Miller as he engages in his ministry among us and also looks to a time of transition into retirement.
  • We are also involved in the normal ministry that the Standing Committee in any diocese is called to undertake.

What is next in the search process?

  • The Search Committee will extend the invitation to every parish in the diocese to engage in a listening session. These opportunities for dialog and reflection will also be offered to diocesan staff and others who are involved in a variety of ways in the life and mission of the diocese. These steps add time to the process of calling our next Bishop, but the information they will provide, the stories and insights they will generate, will give us valuable insight and information as we prepare a diocesan profile and engage in the search process.  The transition from the 11th to the 12th Bishop of Milwaukee provides us with a valuable, and important opportunity to do this work. Bishop White served our diocese for 19 years and Bishop Miller’s ministry among us will mark its 17th year this coming fall. As we prepare for a time of change and transition it makes sense to take stock of where we are, reflect on our common life and how we got here, and seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in our next steps. A transition like the one we are now engaging is a rare moment in the life of a diocese and we are committed to using this time productively and strategically.
  • A diocesan profile will be created by the Search Committee that will give a hopeful and realistic description of our diocese for those who may wish to explore a call to serve as our next bishop.
  • We are creating a budget for the entire search process. We know that some of you have concerns about the amount of money we allocated for this search at our most recent diocesan convention. If you are concerned that $200,000 is a lot of money, you are right! Our aim is to come in under this amount. Many of the costs are just “what they are,” such as consultant fees (this will end up being around $10,000), and then the costs associated with airfare, lodging, psychological exams, background checks, retreat, tours of the diocese, etc. for the final pool of candidates. Also, there are costs associated with the special convention to elect a bishop and the consecration liturgy, etc. Our aim in all of this is to be careful, thoughtful stewards of the funds entrusted to us for this important task in our common life.

We hope this brief update can help to give you an idea of our progress and also answer questions you may be mulling over. If you have questions or comments about the search process, please feel free to reach out to the Standing Committee by emailing our President, Fr. Scott Leannah, at  . Fr. Leannah or another Standing Committee member will respond to your question in a timely manner.

Thank you and God bless you!

Your Standing Committee

* Gracious and loving God in whom we live and move and have our being:
We pray for your guidance and wisdom that we may faithfully follow your calling in our own lives and as we as the Diocese of Milwaukee discern the calling of our twelfth bishop. We give you thanks for the service of Bishop Steven Miller in the life of our diocese and for the blessings that marked his ministry among us. We also pray for his family during this time of transition. We pray for those whom you have called to serve on our Standing, Search, and Transition Committees, and we pray also for those who will respond to your call to enter into discernment with us to be our next bishop. Give us all listening and prayerful hearts for this most important task. This we ask in the name of the One who said, “Come, follow me.” Amen. 

From your diocesan Standing Committee

From Your Diocesan Standing Committee

 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
The search process for the 12th Bishop of Milwaukee is underway.
 
Our diocesan consultant, the Rev. Ann Hallisey, was with us to lead the diocesan clergy conference at DeKoven Center in Racine from January 20-22. This was a time to be with one another and engage in dialogue about our common life and mission in this diocese and to share some ideas and hope about our future in the Diocese of Milwaukee. All who attended reported that this time together was a gift and a blessing.
 
Following the Clergy Retreat, Ann stayed at DeKoven and led a retreat from January 24-25 for the newly-commissioned Search Committee. They got through a good deal of material during their time together, and, even as I type this note to you, they are getting started on a variety of tasks under the careful leadership of co-chairs Fr. Ian Burch and Ms. Jan Watter. You will be hearing updates about their work in the not-so-distant future.
 
Your Standing Committee has created a prayer for the search process that we're going to ask every parish in the diocese to make a part of their regular worship. It is provided for you at the end of this message. As part of the search process work, we have also created an official "charge" (think "marching orders") to the Search Committee and we are working on a theological statement, as well. As you know, an undertaking such as this involves a financial component, and so we are also in the midst of preparing a budget.
 
While we have plenty to do, it's going well at this point and for that, we are grateful!
 
God bless you.
 
Fr. Scott Leannah, on behalf of the Standing Committee
 
Diocesan Prayer as we search for the 12th Bishop of the Diocese of Milwaukee:

Gracious and loving God in whom we live and move and have our being: We pray for your guidance and wisdom that we may faithfully follow your calling in our own lives and as we as the Diocese of Milwaukee discern the calling of our twelfth bishop. We give you thanks for the service of Bishop Steven Miller in the life of our diocese and for the blessings that marked his ministry among us. We also pray for his family during this time of transition. We pray for those whom you have called to serve on our Standing, Search, and Transition Committees, and we pray also for those who will respond to your call to enter into discernment with us to be our next bishop. Give us all listening and prayerful hearts for this most important task. This we ask in the name of the One who said, “Come, follow me.” Amen.    

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