News & Messages

A Note from the Standing Committee: February 10, 2021

Dear Friends,

Your diocesan Standing Committee hopes and prays that you are doing well and in good spirits. With all of you, we look very much forward to when we can begin, in some fashion, to gather for worship and fellowship. Until that time, we want you to know that you are in our prayers. We are edified by the many stories and examples of parish communities engaging in worship, formation and outreach in creative and meaningful ways. We are aware that there are also some real struggles and challenges in our diocese.

In the meantime, we want to check in with you.  In the coming weeks, members of the Standing Committee will be reaching out to parish communities and leaders. We’d like to hear how things are going. We want to know if we can be of support or encouragement. If you have specific needs, we’d like to know that, as well. 

We are working hard to be of service and assistance- please let us know how we can serve or support you. May God continue to bless the Diocese of Milwaukee!

Fr. Scott Leannah, President
Standing Committee

A Pastoral Directive On Ash Wednesday

January 15, 2021

A Pastoral Directive On Ash Wednesday

As the churches of the Diocese of Milwaukee plan for the commemoration of Ash Wednesday on February 17, the Standing Committee offers the following pastoral directive to the clergy and churches of the diocese. 

All churches are encouraged to observe Ash Wednesday in a manner consistent with the previously published Way Forward Guidelines for worship. While we will not be able to gather in large groups this year, the guidelines do allow for in-person imposition of ashes and reception of Holy Communion both indoors and outdoors by one individual or household at a time (see this link for the relevant guideline that applies). Please notify the Way Forward Taskforce at if you would like approval to offer these sorts of gatherings for your parishes.

In addition, clergy are reminded that imposing ashes in the traditional manner is a relatively covid-safe activity so long as all other Way Forward Guidelines are followed and social distancing is maintained except for the moment of imposition. Imposing ashes can be considered safer in terms of the virus than the sharing of Holy Communion because no participants remove a mask. Like all activities, being outdoors further minimizes the risk of virus spread, but parishes may elect to use their buildings for the sake of warmth. 

With this directive, we are also issuing two changes to existing diocesan liturgical policy.

First, if the clergy and people desire to share Holy Communion as a part of an Ash Wednesday liturgy, they may use the service Communion Under Special Circumstances (BCP pp. 397-99) and distribute the Sacrament from the reserve. The rubrics for that service clearly state that it is to be "[used] with those who for reasonable cause cannot be present at a public celebration of the Eucharist," which, in our estimation, is all of us during this season. In addition, effective immediately, this service may be used on any occasion parishes wish to distribute Holy Communion: a live-streamed or recorded video of a service of Holy Communion is no longer required before distribution of communion in this manner. Of course, if a parish wishes to present a livestreamed or recorded service for Holy Communion and offer in-person distribution, they may still do so. 

Second, the Standing Committee wishes to explicitly bless clergy of the Diocese of Milwaukee using liturgies which disconnect the imposition of ashes from the remainder of the proper liturgy for Ash Wednesday. Some versions of these liturgies have become better known as Ashes to Go. While clergy participating in this sort of liturgy are urged to do so in covid-safe ways and according to the Way Forward guidelines, the Standing Committee wishes to clearly state that all clergy of the diocese may offer these liturgies without fear of reprisal from the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese.

We wish you every grace and mercy for the observance of a blessed Lent. 

The Standing Committee
Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee

The Rev. Scott Leannah, President
Ms. Margaret Done
Ms. Celia Fine
The Rev. Andrew Jones
The Rev. Dave Mowers
Ms. Tammy Prather
The Rev. Jana Troutman-Miller
Mr. Marcus White
Mr. Mark Ehrmann, Esq., Chancellor

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.