News & Messages

Letter from Trialogue Task Force

Dear friends in Christ:

We are in an exciting moment as Episcopalians in Wisconsin. We hope you have heard something about the Trialogue, conversations taking place among Episcopalians across the state about the future shape of the Episcopal Church here. These conversations are broad and open-ended as we explore how we might collaborate throughout the state in ministry and mission, witnessing to the Good News of Jesus Christ. We hope to envision and embody new ways of being together as Wisconsin Episcopalians. In the book of Acts, the disciples found themselves moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit to cross boundaries between Jew and Gentile, to carry the gospel into all the world. So too are we being challenged by the Holy Spirit to embark on a new journey.

Such journeys take us into uncharted territory, leaving the comforts of home, the past, and tradition behind. As we explore these new relationships there is considerable uncertainty as well as excitement, fear alongside hope.

 The “Parish and Regional Engagement Task Force” is one of seven task forces participating in the Trialogue. We are reaching out to Episcopalians across the state to listen and learn, to hear your questions and concerns, your hopes and dreams. To that end, in the coming weeks, our task force will contact every congregation in all three dioceses to solicit your feedback, your questions, concerns, and anxieties about the Trialogue and about the future of the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin. We look forward to hearing from you and to serve as a conduit sharing your questions, your hopes and fears with the other task forces and with the Steering Committee.

In the name of Christ,

The Rev. Dcn. Paul Aparicio, Diocese of Fond du Lac, co-facilitator
The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Grieser, Diocese of Milwaukee, co-facilitator
Bevra Cole, Diocese of Milwaukee
Tim Donahue, Diocese of Eau Claire
The Rev. Julie Hendrix, Diocese of Fond du Lac
Edie McDougal, Diocese of Eau Claire
The Rev. Dcn. Steve Russell, Diocese of Eau Claire
The Rev. Joanne Skidmore, Diocese of Fond du Lac

Trialogue Reunion Goals and Opportunities

Greetings from the Trialogue Communications Task Force. The Trialogue is composed of the three Episcopal dioceses of Wisconsin that are exploring how reunification to one diocese may better equip us to be the church God is calling us to be.

The job of our task force is to regularly update the clergy and parishioners about the Trialogue process. Our goal is to keep you informed about how the reunion conversation is progressing and the steps taken along the way. There will be many opportunities for your input and questions as we proceed. This is a work in progress and we value all participation and input.

Bishop Matt Gunter representing the Dioceses of Fond du Lac and Eau Claire (with Milwaukee Provisional Bishop Jeff Lee) presented the Trialogue steering committee, and seven task forces, the reasons below that support reunion during the initial Trialogue meeting.

Pursuing reunion as one diocese provides us an opportunity to engage a changing world and become the church God is calling us to be. The outcome of this process is uncertain as we discern our strengths, challenges and seek to improve the way we embrace a hurting world, raise up disciples and share the Good News of God’s grace and transformation. Our goal is to encourage and challenge all people to be transformed by the Holy Spirit.

It is an opportunity to

  • reconfigure ourselves into a strengthened diocese organized to engage our changed and changing world
  • combine our financial, human and spiritual resources, into a diocese organized for mission, evangelism, and public witness
  • organize ourselves to better support each of our existing congregations
  • encourage, cultivate, and nurture new communities of worship and discipleship; some may look like conventional congregations, others may not
  • form disciples equipped to live faithfully in these times
  • find ways to faithfully and responsibly use various communication methods to better reach all ages
  • encourage and train lay leadership
  • draw on our heritage and organize ourselves to be a missionary diocese for the 21st and 22nd centuries.

The world is changing and changing significantly. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We need to adapt, not for mere existence, rather as a dynamic reflection of the Good News and love we know in Jesus Christ. It is the Good News the world desperately needs. We can become a church that confidently lives and bears witness to the Good News, with due humility, as we listen to and learn from our neighbors. Together, we can become a missionary diocese organized to embrace growth, challenges, and opportunities before us.

We will have more information for you soon. We conclude today with this prayer from the Prayer and Discernment Task Force.

Almighty God, we come before you asking grace and wisdom for all who are called to discern your mission for the church in Wisconsin. May we listen to one another in humility and always seek your will. We pray in the name of Jesus, the head of the church. Amen.

pdf version 

Bishops’ letter to Wisconsin Episcopalians on the trialogue

To the Members of the Dioceses of Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, and Milwaukee
Dear Friends,
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. We hope most of you have heard by now that the three Episcopal dioceses of Wisconsin have entered conversation about the possibility of returning to our roots and reuniting back into one diocese. In the 21st century, the church faces a changing landscape; our society is becoming increasingly secular and commitment to the church is no longer a given.
One way or another, the church must adapt to better engage the world with the resurrection hope we have in Jesus Christ. What worked in one generation will not automatically work as well in this one and generations to come. Jesus is the same from generation to generation, but how we are organized to faithfully bear witness to the kingdom of God he proclaimed and how we worship the triune God might well change.
At the end of 2020, the Rt. Rev. Jay Lambert of the Diocese of Eau Claire and the Rt. Rev. Steven Miller of the Diocese of Milwaukee both retired, which resulted in two of the three dioceses of Wisconsin being without bishops. That presented what seems like an opportunity to explore the future of the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin. Indeed, we believe the opportunity is providential. Might the Holy Spirit be inviting us to look afresh at being the church in our time? How might our combined assets – financial and human resources – be used to support each of our existing congregations and encourage the beginning of new congregations or communities that might look more or less like church as we know it? Or perhaps even communities of faith that look quite different from the church as we know it today? How might we be better public witnesses and agents of hope in Wisconsin? The time is right to look at these and other questions.
A steering committee has been formed as well as several task forces have been appointed to explore different aspects of a possible reunion. The task forces will be addressing many of the practical aspects of reunion, such as addressing the constitutions and canons, working through all the financial details, and the culture and mission of the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin. Each of those task forces will be soliciting input and participation from members of each diocese.
We will continue to update members of the diocese with information about the process and opportunities for you to participate in this discernment. We are currently building a website hub for you to learn more about and engage in the process. We will share that with you soon.
We urge you to be engaged and participate in this process of discernment. Most especially, we encourage you to pray. Steeping our discernment in prayer will better enable us to hear what the Holy Spirit is calling us to be.
Faithfully in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter
Bishop of the Diocese of Fond du Lac
Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Eau Claire
The Rt. Rev. Jeffery Lee
Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Milwaukee

PDF of the above letter
La traducción al español está disponible aquí.