News & Messages

Provisional Bishop Announced

contact:  Sara Bitner,


The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, a group of elected clergy and lay leaders, announced today that the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, current bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, is the designee for provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee. Bishop Lee will begin serving as the provisional bishop designee on April 1, 2021. The convention at which the clergy and lay representatives of the diocese will vote on Bishop Lee’s nomination will be held shortly thereafter, at a date to be determined but likely in June 2021. Bishop Lee will conclude his ministry as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago at the end of this month.

“On behalf of the Standing Committee, I’d like to express our enthusiasm and readiness to work with Bishop Jeff Lee in this season of our common life together. His love for the Diocese of Milwaukee is evident when you talk with him, and his roots here among us are deep,” said the Rev. Scott Leannah, president of the Standing Committee. “His love for the gospel, dedication to the Church, and knowledge of congregational and diocesan ministry will be a blessing and gift for us during this time of transition and new life. We urge your prayerful support for Bishop Lee and his family as he concludes his ministry in the Diocese of Chicago. We ask you to do all you can to support him in the role of provisional bishop of the Diocese of Milwaukee. He comes to us at a pivotal time in our shared life and we are grateful for his “yes”; we believe it was inspired by the Holy Spirit.”

The Diocese of Milwaukee’s current bishop, the Rt. Rev. Steven Andrew Miller, will retire on December 31 after a terminal sabbatical. As stated above, Bishop Lee will begin his ministry with the Diocese of Milwaukee on April 1. He will be working half-time for a two-year term.

The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee was elected as the twelfth bishop of the Diocese of Chicago in 2007 and was consecrated on February 2, 2008. Bishop Lee is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Nashotah House Seminary and served as a curate, canon to the ordinary and church developer in the Diocese of Northern Indiana and as rector of churches in Wisconsin and Washington before being elected bishop. He and his wife, Lisa Rogers Lee, have two children, Katherine and Jonathan. You may find Bishop Lee’s full bio here.

“I am delighted at the prospect of returning to ministry with the people of the Diocese of Milwaukee. More than twenty years since our time at St. Christopher’s, River Hills, Lisa and I still remember fondly the warm friendships and vital ministry we experienced in Wisconsin,” said Bishop Lee. “I am honored that the Standing Committee has asked me to stand for election as bishop provisional, and all the people of the diocese will be in my prayers between now and when I hope to join you in April.”

Between January 1 and March 31, two assisting bishops will support and advise the Standing Committee in their role as the Ecclesiastical Authority for the Diocese of Milwaukee. The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter, bishop of Fond du Lac and provisional bishop of Eau Claire will be the assisting bishop January 1-February 15 and the Rt. Rev. Keith Whitmore, retired, will be the assisting bishop February 16-March 31. They will meet with the Standing Committee monthly and will be available for advice and pastoral care on an as-needed basis.  

The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee comprises 49 congregations in the 18 counties of southern Wisconsin. To learn more, visit

An earlier version of this message incorrectly reported that Bishop Lee will begin his ministry in the Diocese of Milwaukee in 2020 instead of 2021.

This message is also available as a pdf here.

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 on the Status of the Bishop Transition Process

The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller and the Standing Committee have written letters to share with the diocese. In his letter to the diocese, Bishop Miller confirmed his intention to retire at the end of 2020. After discussions and at the encouragement of Bishop Miller, Bishop Todd Ousley of the Office of Pastoral Development, and the Rev. Dr. Ann Hallisey, search consultant, the Standing Committee has adopted a new timeline for the discernment of episcopal leadership for the Diocese of Milwaukee.

Letter from Bishop Steven Andrew Miller

Letter from the Standing Committee

​If you have trouble accessing the letters, please contact me for assistance.

Sara Bitner
Communications Officer
Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee