A PUBLICATION OF THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF ROCHESTER, NY
A C H R I S T I A N W O R K B O O K | W I N T E R 2014
Christian Leadership in the Episcopal Church
Inside: How the Church works The Presiding Bishop on beloved community Bishop Singh on Confirmation
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We were honored to have our Presiding Bishop with us for the weekend of our 82nd Convention in November. Convention was an exhilarating time of worship and fellowship. It was also an interesting experience in discernment to help us come to clarity about how we function. Convention makes sense as long as we trust the process to have no winners and losers; just a discernment process we have agreed to engage. I have found one of the norms of Diocesan Council to be a helpful framework for our work together on Council: “we will strive for consensus and when there is a need to vote we will respect the decision of council.” May it be so for our common life as we journey together as followers of Christ on the other side of Convention and into the New Year of possibilities! As we give thanks for this New Year and celebrate Epiphany, we are reminded of the amazing ways in which the Gospel went viral to the entire world. The magi remind us of strangers bringing their authentic gifts to bless the beloved community we are a part of. We remember loved ones who have passed on into God’s nearer embrace. December saw us as a global family grieving the loss of a generative and soulful leader in the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, affectionately called Tata Madiba. We were inspired by his life for many reason, but chiefly because he showed us how to forgive and then build beloved community. Madiba, through his leadership, reminds us that each of us can do the internal work to fortify our souls from bitterness and live generative lives of consequence to heal, restore, rebuild and dance with hope.
Building beloved community I was confirmed on 7/7/1977 at St. Andrew’s Kirk, a Church of South India congregation in what was Madras then and now is referred to as Chennai in India. We were twenty five Confirmands, as I recall. I was fifteen. When the Bishop laid hands on my head and prayed me into that amazing prayer of confirmation I was visibly moved. “My life matters to God” was 2 | www.episcopalrochester.org
The Rt. Rev. Bishop Prince G. Singh, Ph.D. 8th Episcopal Bishop of Rochester
the clarity I had as a confirmed person. My life had always mattered to God, of course, and Confirmation was my appropriation of that truth. The baptismal reminder that we are all made good and in the image of God took me to a place of responsibility as a follower of Christ. Such a place of responsibility moved me to a self-understanding that was about becoming a follower of Christ and hence a leader in the community. Christian leadership is about building beloved community where the formation of self and engagement of the other commingle in a reflective praxis of the Church’s mission, which is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. Christian leadership then is a constant quest to rebalance the restoration of unity with God and God’s reign while also making sure unity is at the relational level with one another. Therefore, the call for Christian leadership is about clarifying one’s identity as a child of God and one’s vulnerability in seeking reconciliation with other people, creation and all manner of life. Building beloved community is a core drive of Christian leadership because it seeks the very heart and face of God. It is reflected not in uniformity but unity, not in homogeneity but in diversity, and not in solace but in empowerment. This is my prayer:
One step at a time in these moments of opportunity and challenge Fifty years after a dreamer dreamed new possibility into new reality. Remind us to do our part to build beloved community. Help us, Beloved, Holy Other, To be still and know that you are here
Help us to embrace your love and our responsibility Help us to embrace you in the strange other Help us do our part to heal this body of Christ and a hurting world Help us to forgive, repent and receive forgiveness May every encounter be holy! With every decision we consider and make Every choice we make to reduce our harmful footprint Divestment we make to reduce future harm to our island home Help us do our part to heal this hurting earth Help us do our part to heal ourselves, our souls Heal us of every sense of loss and grief Loss of loved ones, Loss of the familiar, And the grief caused by failed expectations Heal us of every encumbrance that keeps our reality powerful and your possibility weak… Holy Other, Beloved One, Ages after you stretched the skies as you stretched your hands on hardwood and dreamed a beloved possibility
My college years at Madras Christian College were formative years. I got involved in leadership in the Student Christian Movement and we were engaged in the study of scripture, prayer, and social action. We also had a lot of fun engaging the world as we saw it, especially through music and skits. My encounter with the vulnerable of the world was shaped in the context of a Leprosy clinic in the outskirts of Tambaram, where my college was. It was here that I saw the face of Christ in the face of broken vulnerable persons with the variety of disfigurements that accompanied this disease. It was during those days that I learned to differentiate between the disease and the person. I came to realize that these were children of God, not lepers, since leprosy was the disease and not the person. I learned to address them as persons with leprosy or leprosy patients. When they touched me I realized I was being touched by Christ himself. Later on, when I was in discernment of the priesthood I would spend an entire year serving as chaplain, visiting them every Sunday evening in a leprosy colony located in outskirts of the city of Madras.
Being committed to Christ The Church must constantly seek spiritual leaders passionately. It is fundamental that Christian leaders are first followers of Jesus the Christ with a dynamic walk with him. Everything, including qualifications and skills, is secondary to this fundamental assumption. A question that I ask at every Confirmation liturgy in the Diocese is: “Do you renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?” The response: “I do, and with God’s grace I will follow him as my Savior and Lord.”
Help us do our part to take one moment at a time To move with faith, hope and love To build, build, and build, A beloved community here and now. Amen Confirmation to me is the Church’s creative impulse to reflect her deepest yearning to proclaim resurrection in all forms of abundant life within a formative framework that would be intentionally replicated from generation to generation. While confirmation is assumed for its power as a ritual of initiation, that aspect of initiation is more theologically characterized in baptismal theology. Baptism is really the ritual initiation into God’s beloved community where all are reminded as Jesus was about their inherent beloved quality in the eyes of God. This fundamental sacrament is clearly the cornerstone of Christian identity. It is out of such a Christian identity of being God’s beloved that all aspects of discipleship including Christian piety, worship, ethics, character, and leadership development emanate.
Christ tells us to differentiate between the person and the disease. In so doing, we are touched by Christ himself.
Every disciple of Christ who seeks to be a leader in the Church and the world would benefit from paying attention to this. The Church is best when everyone works with one common purpose: to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. That is our ultimate mission. To this end, the formation of Christian leaders is a crucial to accomplishing this mission. I see Confirmation as a primary portal in the formation and development of Christian leaders for Church and society. My journey with Jesus Christ was fundamentally influenced by lay people, including my mother, a bunch of friends in college and eventually clergy. I see this as a common pattern of being drawn to be followers of Christ, where the primary conduits of the grace of Jesus are Christian leaders who have a dynamic spiritual life. Lay people who take their baptismal vows seriously, which they appropriate and confirm at confirmation, are a significant entre to the Christianâ€™s fundamental task of sharing the good news of Christ. This is also the first of the five marks of mission that the world-wide Anglican Communion has embraced. The Church must also seek leaders who are formed to be thoughtful in their engagement with their context. One of the important aspects of leadership is discernment of the best path forward with as much information as possible. Organizational structure works best when it functions through a missional lens that assumes that all the baptized are participating in healthy ways. The Episcopal Church is a healthy bend of democratic processes within a hierarchical structure to make things work. While all opinions are welcomed, every opinion cannot be discerned as consequential to decision making particularly. That would be democracy gone awry or, as Aristotle would call it, mob rule. Antony De Mello tells the story of grandpa and grandson taking their donkey to the market to sell. Grandpa was riding the donkey and as they went through the first village they heard people murmuring about how it
was such a terrible thing that the old man was making the youngster walk while he rode comfortably. As they left the village, grandpa got off the donkey and put the little fellow on it. They passed the second village and they heard murmuring again. This time they heard people complaining how terrible it was that the little fellow had no respect for elders and was letting the old man walk while he rode comfortably. As they left the village the grandson got off the donkey. The story continues with them going through a third village. This time both were quite tired and were riding on the donkey and people started complaining that they are such heartless people making the creature a real beast of burden. Finally grandpa and grandson decided to carry the donkey to the market! Formation of leadership is mostly about making good choices, not necessarily popular ones. The moral framework to inform these choices has to be formed early on in the lives of young people. This is primarily why Confirmation is an important formation experience that prepares young people as well as adults to take their place as leaders in the world that God loved enough to send a son to spread the good news to all people.
discussion questions How has your baptism or confirmation into the faith formed you as a leader in your family, community, church, or job?
How have you come to view others as children of God? How are you touched by Christ in your own life and work?
It isnâ€™t easy to make unpopular choices, even when they conform to the Christian Gospel. What are some ways to create an environment that raises justice and the welfare of others above popularity?
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Bishop Singh confirms Lee McFetridge (center) at St. Markâ€™s Church in Penn Yan. At left, the Rev. David Grant Smith, Rector, offers his support to Lee.
The Most. Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, meets with farm workers and their children during her recent visit to the Diocese of Rochester. Photo by David Burnet.
By The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori Presiding Bishop and Primate The Episcopal Church
From all I have seen of this diocese, your boundaries do indeed enclose a pleasant land, as the psalmist puts it. You are planted here, as Ezekiel says, with hearts of flesh, for living here in this land as God’s people. There is joy abundant in this place, for those who know the abiding presence of God. All of that knowing and belonging and believing is grounded in belovedness.
When Jesus was baptized, he heard a voice from heaven say, ‘you are my beloved, and in you I am well pleased.’ God says the same thing to every one here: “you are my beloved, and in you I am well pleased.” When we were baptized, we promised to extend that reality to the world around us. That’s what those promises are all about—continuing to learn and incorporate and turn toward that belovedness, sharing that reality with the world around us, loving neighbors, respecting the dignity of every human being, and building communities of justice and peace, so that the beloved community continues to grow and expand to include all that is.
How do we know we’re beloved? It starts with those who love us before we’re terribly conscious—effective parents and loving family. Later we get continuing hints from people who treat us with dignity: the courteous TSA agent, an encouraging teacher, the grocery store clerk who remembers you from last visit. We have deeper and abiding experience in more intimate encounters—in faithful relationships in families, church communities, with colleagues and fellow community members. An essential part of what we’re for as students of the beloved one is expanding the sphere of awareness about being beloved. That is what it means to share the good news, and to be Christians in the world. Your work in Steuben County is a wonderful example—as Amish, Episcopalians, and hungry members of the local community are fed, loved, and gathered in to become one, beloved, community. All the work we do, our very reason for being, our prayer and worship and service, is directed toward that kind of community. It’s the ground of the prayer we pray more than any other, “your kingdom come on earth, as it is in
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Bishop Katharine talks with William McKee at a farm near Lyons, N.Y. McKee is the administrator of Liturgia House, a migrant worker education center operated by Rural & Migrant Ministry. He attends St. John’s Episcopal Church, Sodus, part of the Northeast Partners in Episcopal Ministry. Photo by David Burnet.
heaven.” We live in hope for a world where all human beings know they are beloved of God, find evidence of it in the ways other people treat them, and respond in kind. Knowing that we are beloved undergirds our ability to bless the world around us—other human beings and all of creation. That is the beginning of abundant life for which God has made us and it is what God sends us into the world to be and do—what we call mission. Some 25 years ago the Anglican Communion began to use a framework to speak about our engagement in this dream of God to create beloved community everywhere as the Five Marks of Mission. It’s a large framework, big enough to need the partnership of people everywhere. No part of the church can do it all—and most of it takes place in daily life outside what we have long thought of as “church.” Mark 1: proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God—is about sharing that dream of a beloved community—we hear echoes in one of the promises of our baptismal covenant. Mark 2: teach, baptize, and nurture new believers—is about forming beloved ministers, people who are here to serve rather than be served, and to offer the gifts of their lives for bringing this dream to reality. That teaching and formation may take place mostly inside what we call “church,” but it is practiced in the “world” in daily life. The work you are doing on vocational discernment for all the baptized fits here. Mark 3: respond to human need through loving service—looks like Jesus’ feeding and healing ministry, and all the ways he urged us to engage the “least of
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these,” companioning the sick and imprisoned, giving food and drink and shelter to those without, comforting the grieving. The recent cuts to food stamps mean more people are hungry here. How is your congregation responding? What about the lonely and hopeless? A priest in New Jersey started a chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew for young inmates. There are now 80 members in that prison—praying, studying, and serving that vision of a beloved community. Your ministry at Industry Detention Facility grows food and trains residents for work on the outside. Mark 4: transform the unjust structures of society, challenge violence, and promote peace and reconciliation—is not only about asking why so many are poor, but working at community-wide levels to support that vision of a beloved community. This is where we start challenging the inertia and self-centeredness that keep us from loving our neighbors as ourselves. Your Rural and Migrant Ministry is a way of trying to address injustices in immigration law and employment practices. This is about voting and direct advocacy with lawmakers, as well as convening community conversations to challenge prejudice and discrimination. Mark 5: care for the earth—because it supports us all, and the health and flourishing of each part of creation is vital to the health and flourishing of all. Creation Week Camp (St. Mark’s, Penn Yan), and the myriad gardening and farming ministries in this diocese are examples.
The Episcopal Church has come to embrace these 5 Marks of Mission as a way to examine and organize our common life, in the same way we might use a rule of life or the Ignatian Exercises to reflect on our internal spiritual life. These marks are also an antidote to the problem James and John were wrestling with—who’s first, or most important, or best at being a disciple?—because the response to God’s mission can only be made by the interconnected community, the body of Christ, or the body of God’s creation. When we are serving, rather than setting ourselves up to be served by others, we quickly discover there is little or no jockeying for position. Indeed, Paul challenges us to “outdo one another in showing honor” and to “consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.” The budget you are considering moves in this direction. You’re proposing to spend 10% on mission in local communities and 10% on global mission. The Congregational Development and Communications work is about equipping missioners for service in the church and in the world. So is the half of the budget that’s designed to support work by, with, and on behalf of God’s mission partners in this diocese. Framing it in a missional context helps us see that this isn’t about one faction lording it over another, one group winning and another losing, but about shared resources for building a beloved community. You could teach the state and federal governments something about that!
Episcopalians, Amish and residents of Steuben County participate in a potato harvest. Part of the Diocese’s Amish Partnership Ministry, the harvest is donated to charity. Half goes to soup kitchens in the Southern Tier, and the other half is provided to poor Amish families for free or for pennies per pound.
It takes hard work and continued collaboration—negotiation, even—to build a community of blessing. Recognizing our own wounds as well as the dignity with which we’ve been created lies at the root of that growth in community. Economic challenges in this part of the world have brought depression if not despair to many. Yet even that experience of loss can
It takes hard work and continued collaboration, negotiation, even— to build a community of blessing.”
Missions like Creation Week Camp give young people the chance to express their creativity, build community, and let their hair down in a safe environment.
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aid the journey, as the grieving discover hope through the companions who stand with them. We can’t know what it is to be beloved in isolation—we have to show and remind each other. How is the beloved community already present? What makes your heart sing? That’s a sign of the near presence of God, as the psalmist notes—fullness of joy, and hands full of pleasure. Joy and fullness are signs of building that community. Now, where is more of that needed? Where are the places it’s absent? Go there, be there as God’s beloved, look and listen to the realities people experience, and help to name the beloved.
after 70 and 80 years. The evil that led to hiding it is being redeemed as the creative abundance of those artists comes to light once again. The Jewish tradition calls that kind of healing tikkun olam, the repair of the world. It’s a glimpse of the Reign of God as relationships are repaired and belovedness affirmed in all sorts and conditions of people—and their art. What does that repair work look like in your neighborhood? Who are your partners? Put your passion to work there—for that is where God is sending you. Go and be love in the world, and build the beloved community. You will find joy and fullness, in abundance.
There is a remarkable story emerging in Europe right now, as a trove of art that was confiscated by the Nazis or hidden from them is being rediscovered
We can’t know what it is to be beloved in isolation— we have to show and remind each other.
Tidings is published periodically throughout the year by the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY
The Diocese is located at 935 East Ave., Rochester, NY 14607. Our phone number is: 585-473-2977
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Address all inquiries to: The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester/Tidings, 935 East Ave., Rochester, NY 14607. Phone number: 585-473-2977. Fax: 585-473-5414. Email: communications@ episcopaldioceseofrochester.org To learn more about the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Rochester please visit us at www.episcopalrochester.org
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the Church works Working with our bishop, elected and appointed Episcopalians help guide our Diocese towards its vision and mission: growing our churches spiritually, numerically and missionally so that we will know joy in Christ, as a way of life. Learn about how our governing groups workâ€”and how YOU can join our holy efforts!
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standing committee council of advice for the bishop By Neil Houghton
(Pictured left to right) The Very Rev. Michael Hopkins, Chris Moore, the Very Rev. J. Brad Benson, Jerry Deluccio, the Rev. Carmen Seufert, the Rev. Mary Mroczka, Bishop Singh and Neil Houghton enjoy a laugh during a recent Standing Committee meeting.
Every diocese in the Episcopal Church has a Standing Committee. In the Diocese of Rochester, there are four lay and four clerical members who each serve a four-year term. One person from the lay order and one from the clerical order are elected at our Diocesan Convention each year. At the end of their term, a member may not stand for re-election for one year.
the Standing Committee may discuss these consents and approvals, and indeed should, they act independently.
Often the Standing Committee is referred to as the “vestry of the diocese.” Perhaps a better analogy is to think in terms of the U.S. federal government. While it is not a perfect analogy, it is also not coincidental. There is no doubt that this “checks and balances” structure finds its roots in the American Constitution, which seeks to avoid the investment of authority in one person or body. The Bishop is the head of the Administrative branch and the Standing Committee is not unlike the Senate and is elected by the entire convention. The Diocesan Council is like the House of Representatives and elected in various ways to assure representation from across the Diocese. The Bishop serves as the chair of Council but is not a member of Standing Committee.
In the absence or disability of the Bishop, the Standing Committee acts as Ecclesiastical Authority in the Diocese, fulfilling all the Bishop’s duties. When the position of Bishop is vacated for any reason, the Standing Committee is in charge of the process of electing a new bishop, appointing committees as they deem appropriate to build a diocesan profile, search for and nominate candidates, establish an electing convention, and prepare for the ordination ceremony.
Each time a Bishop (Diocesan, Suffragan or Coadjutor) is elected in any diocese of the Episcopal Church, he or she must get consent from a majority of Diocesan Bishops and a majority of Standing Committees. Likewise both the Bishop and the Standing Committee must approve (or disapprove) all persons seeking candidacy to ordination in the diocese acting on recommendation of the Commission on Ministry. Though the Bishop and 10 | www.episcopalrochester.org
All parish requests to encumber or dispose of property or to take loans from diocesan funds must get approval of the Standing Committee as well as the diocesan Board of Trustees.
Sometimes we are asked, “If there is a concern about practices or policies in the Diocese, can it be brought to the Standing Committee?” The first question any Standing Committee would ask in return is, “Have you talked to the person or group with whom you have a concern?” But the answer is yes. Just as you might bring a question of law to your legislators, you should feel comfortable approaching members of the Standing Committee or other elected officials. The polity at every level in the Episcopal Church exists so that we can communicate and settle disagreements at the lowest possible level to be able to move forward to do the work Christ calls us to do, in our community and beyond.
Lyn A. Omphroy Vice Chair—Trustees
managing the assets of the diocese By Lyn A. Omphroy
Serving as a Diocesan Trustee has and continues to be very rewarding; it provides an opportunity to make a difference. The Trustees have the responsibility of providing prudent management of the assets of the Diocese. These assets are made up of real and personal property, cash and investments. In addition to our quarterly meetings, each Trustee participates in subcommittees, each with the charter to support the ultimate goal of managing and supporting the assets. The subcommittees are Audit, Investment and the Green (Buildings & Property) Committee, which will be given a renewed focus in 2014. I’ve been on the Trustees for five years, going on six. The group is very committed to their faith and eager to work hard on being stewards of the assets of the Diocese. The members come from different Parishes all over the Diocese—urban, suburban and rural. Given this representation, we are able to appreciate how diverse the Diocese is. It is with that diversity that we ensure that the decisions we make as a Trustee will be fair and always strive for that balance of faith and business. Although our meetings are scheduled four times a year, you can witness us having a quick conference call here and there to address any pressing matters that might come up along the way.
our respective groups and begin work on laying the framework for short and long term strategic planning. In addition to the joint meetings, the vice chairs of each of these committees have agreed to meet at least on a quarterly basis. These meetings have evolved quite well and I anticipate will continue to do so as we strive to become more deliberate and strategic in our efforts. I’m honored to be a Trustee of this great Diocese and looking forward to continued service.
discussion questions How would you manage the assets of the Diocese?
Finding a balance between faith and business isn’t always easy. How do you do this in your life?
Towards the end of 2012, Bishop Singh presented us with an idea where all of the committees— Standing, Council, Commission on Ministry and Trustees—could get together and foster a better flow of communication. We were given the opportunity twice this year to bond, learn more about www.episcopalrochester.org | 11
diocesan council walking with parishes through growth By Gwen Van Laeken, Northeast District Representative and Vice-Chair of Diocesan Council
Gwen Van Laeken, Vice Chair of Diocesan Council, discusses a topic at the 82nd Convention of the Diocese of Rochester.
Chat with any Diocesan Council representative, even for a few minutes, and you’ll find a person who cares deeply for our faith and our family of churches and parishioners throughout the diocese. You’ll find council representatives who are not only committed to their home parish and community, but who’ve come to share genuine concern for towns and communities throughout the diocesan region. And, you’ll find individuals with varying talents and backgrounds which lend to diverse, sometimes animated, but always respectful discussion.
ment, and financial support for congregational development and mission programs throughout the Diocese. In addition to general monthly council meetings, Council members often attend several additional committee or leadership meetings each month.
Member parishes should feel comfortable reaching out, working together, providing feedback, and offering new ideas to Diocesan Council and the greater diocesan community. Council recognizes that it’s our parish leaders, volunteers, and missioners who are the true leaders of faith and outreach in our community and we have much to learn from one another as we continue to build a stronger and even more inviting presence of our Episcopal Church community.
Members of Council’s Mission Partnership Grants Committee have been privileged to hear many wonderful stories of mission and outreach work being led by parishes throughout the Diocese. The goal of Diocesan Council is to fund missions that enhance the vitality of the parish while addressing goals of the Diocese. Missions have included community gardens and food stands, weekly community meals, food pantries and Foodlink distribution; youth programs such as Scout Troops for the children of incarcerated parents, an arts academy, and a weekly meal and worship program for at-risk neighborhood children.
Diocesan Council is charged with preparing and overseeing the budget between Conventions. The budget includes operating expenses, apportion12 | www.episcopalrochester.org
To be sure, this is a substantial volunteer commitment. But it’s an honor and a privilege to work in support of parishes and the Diocese who are doing such amazing work.
These are just a few of the types of missions that the Diocese has been proud to support. But the real credit goes to the volunteers who lead and serve these missions with their time, talent, treasure, and time (again) because it’s clear that churches with missions in their communities often have healthy, happy congregations. Council has also had the honor to meet with clergy and vestry leaders from several parishes who have been finding their way through challenges and working toward spiritual and financial health. The Congregational Development Partnership Grant Committee seeks to provide support for parishes that are discovering new opportunities for their growth in ministry but that are lacking the financial resources to meet their needs. Over the past several months the committee has met with parishes who have been receiving ongoing development funds. The evidence of resilient and transformational leadership among our own parishes is truly inspiring. Church leadership from each of these parishes not only shared their challenges and concerns about their church communities, they inspired us with their plans for achieving self-sufficiency. Many churches have demonstrated actual growth both spiritually and financially through strategic visioning processes required through the congregational development process. As a result of their hard work, many have found ways to increase worship attendance, build or advance their mission work in the community, and begin generating ongoing revenue from their buildings. On a personal note, I joined Council just nine months ago when our own District seat became vacant. Quite honestly, as a regular church parishioner, I wasn’t sure what to expect on Council. What I knew was who I am. Like some of you, I chose to become a member of the Episcopal Church as an
adult. Actually, I was young single mother in my twenties and extremely apprehensive about not being accepted into a church. As a newly engaged couple, my husband and I visited dozens of churches in search of a place that actively demonstrated warmth, acceptance, equality, and fairness. Truth be told, I wasn’t 100% sure that such a place even existed. It took a year, lots of driving, and often two different church services per Sunday. But then we finally found you, our church family. Since joining Council, I’ve found a group of very talented, passionate, and faith-centered leaders who are deeply committed to the health and vitality of the whole diocese. Today I’m even more passionate about our Episcopal faith and I know that we have lots to offer that is wonderfully unique. I chose this faith. And I believe if others knew us, they too might walk into our doors and test the waters. We all need to be leaders, to reach out and talk more freely about our faith. Perhaps a person equates the word “church” with the word “judgment” when what he really needs is “acceptance.” Perhaps, he doesn’t know that a place like ours exists yet. Our Episcopal Diocese is unique. We are accepting. We have married male and female clergy. We elect our leaders. We have much to be proud of and much to offer. As council members, we’re blessed to hear stories from parishes and individuals throughout the Diocese. And through Council’s fiscal budget responsibilities, we are all blessed to support the work being led throughout our congregations and in our communities. Help from Council’s Congregational Development Partnership Committee can be a lifeline to churches like St. George’s in Hilton—providing not just necessary funds but a framework for re-imagining life as Church. This process has brought growth to a number of parishes.
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Vestry members from St. Michael’s, Geneseo, recently met with Bishop Singh to discuss how they were growing into their role in church leadership.
growing in one’s life with God By Paula Valeri Warden, St. Thomas’, Rochester
Laypersons who accept the call to vestry service enrich their parishes, their diocese and God’s church by adding their hearts, thoughts, and voices to the guidance and governance of the church. With lay participation in its leadership, the church stays closely in touch with the common life of its members in local congregations. It is a great blessing to Episcopalians that we have the opportunity to join with the ordained in actively leading our church by serving on its vestries, instead of observing leadership from the sidelines. The church is in a stronger position to draw others into fellowship when it has the visible lay leadership that a vestry provides. With prayerful spiritual leadership, members of the vestry encourage parishioners to take more active roles in the growth and movement of God’s church. In the Great Commission, Jesus charged all of us to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey” the things he commanded (Matthew 28:19 NRSV). By working continually to build the church, vestry people faithfully carry on Jesus’ mission. 14 | www.episcopalrochester.org
Many may not realize that vestry service differs significantly from serving on governing bodies for community and service organizations. Governance in the Episcopal Church follows canon law and is structured quite differently from other organizations. The lay leaders of the church reach beyond typical issues of finances and operations in their considerations, seeking to be guided in all things by faith and the Holy Spirit. For the individual vestry person, service affords a great opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how God works through his church. Members of a vestry are expected to pray daily for their parishes, join together in prayer often, and explore how scripture and faith impact day-to-day parish life, experiences that may be new to some but will help all to grow in Christian life. By opening our eyes to the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst, especially when we struggle with issues that seem wholly secular but which in fact may have deeper theological implications, we become more attentive to God’s work in our midst every day.
Vestry service is a transformational experience full of the richness of life in community. It provides a unique opportunity to explore spiritual gifts at a level that has significant, visible impact on those in the parish family. By wrestling as a group with complicated, sensitive issues (just as Jacob wrestled with God in the book of Genesis), members of the vestry learn to actively seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and listen with clarity for God’s voice in response. Service affords a
leader.” That should sound familiar! Scripture is full of similar stories of our spiritual predecessors: reluctant prophets, unlikely kings, fearful disciples, questioning servants. All were used by God to affect his mission for the people he loves. All found that they were indeed up to the challenges through faith that God would be with them always.
My call to serve St. Thomas’ came first in the form of an invitation great opportunity to to serve as Junior Warden. Thinking about gifts of My first response: “But gain a deeper understanding of how grace and spiritual gifts, wait. I’m really busy. Do it is difficult to contemyou know I’ve never even God works through his church. plate an area that isn’t been on the vestry? I hate cultivated by serving on public speaking. Surely a vestry. Patience? Check. I’m not your best choice.” Love? Check. Prophesy? My second response: “I Definitely. Teaching? Yes. Wisdom? Of course. The list need to pray about this.” What a challenge to take in unending. By exploring all gifts in the company of on a role I’d never anticipated! My wise friend Delora sisters and brothers drawn together for vestry serreminded me that ‘God puts you where he needs vice, all grow in their Christian lives, learning much you.’ After two years of service as warden, I again joyabout God and about themselves in the process. fully accepted a call to serve my St. Thomas’ family as a member of the vestry. My life has been forevTo some, it may seem risky to explore spiritual gifts er changed and repeatedly blessed by these years. in front of others and to be challenged to spiritual I’ve grown in my life of faith and been continually leadership. The invitation to vestry service may apsurprised by challenges I’ve been able to meet with pear freighted with onerous duties and an unknown God’s help. Vestry service is an extraordinary opportime commitment. Indeed, our first reaction may be tunity to grow in one’s life with God. “Why me? I’m not the vestry type. I’m not a spiritual
Reflection on Church Leadership:
from vestry to warden to parishioner By Brent Cooley & Sharon Arthur, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Geneva, NY. Our parish priest, Jim Adams, is and has been our priest for 30 years. It is difficult for one to say “No” to his requests. When asked by Fr. Jim to write a short article for the Tidings magazine on church leadership I accepted his invitation and wanted to include former warden Sharon Arthur in the project. Here goes: In our case, leadership at St. Peter’s covers more than 10 years of service. Not only for Brent Cooley, but the same may be said for fellow warden Sharon Arthur as well as others who have served. Initially, Brent was asked by a current member of the vestry to consider serving. Sharon’s experience involved searching for the right place to share her skillsets within the parish and she was led to serve on the vestry. At St. Peter’s, the vestry has a selection committee—and without exception in the last 15 years, a single slate of vestry and warden candidates have been elected at our annual meeting. So we both moved from parishioner to
vestry to warden over a series of years. We encourage all of our fellow parishioners to be working in the same direction and to answer the call to leadership. Selection. You have been selected and elected by your fellow parishioners. You are elated and proud to be a member of the board of directors for the Church. There is also an understanding that the position carries a reasonable amount of responsibility, duty, and obligation. As you gain experience you will see how best you can serve your Church. The opportunity to serve as a warden carries much more duty, obligation and responsibility. However, service as a church leader is a rich and rewarding experience. We encourage you to engage in and to accept church leadership. Also, when it is time to “pass the torch’ on to others in your congregation and step down, do so willingly and gladly. Spend no time, effort or discourse comparing your service to that of others. www.episcopalrochester.org | 15
When on vestry you are a point person and a representative of the congregation. When greeting and welcoming fellow parishioners at mass or at a concert or in fellowship, the ability to listen to their personal concerns and needs and bring these to your priest and fellow vestry is important ministry. Why Mrs. Jones has stopped coming to church or why Mr. Smith no longer is accompanied by his wife and children in church is not being “nosy”, and it may provide a window into a life that is now filled with hurt, or sorrow, loss or the fact of just being alone. You may not be able to solve an underlying issue, but you can connect with your fellow brothers and sisters and that connection of the congregation to the vestry to the priest can provide a complete and helpful circuit. The lives and concerns of your fellow parishioners are matters of consequence to the life of the Church. Be “owners” of the Church. As a board of directors, encourage your fellow vestry and parishioners to be “owners” of the Church and its ministry, not just visitors on Sunday morning. By example, at St. Peter’s you can serve on a the finance committee, teach a Godly Play class, sing in a choir, join the healing Order of St. Luke, head up a fundraiser, organize a parish cleanup day or picnic, work at Neighbors’ Night, visit the homebound, be on the support board for the St. Peter’s Community Arts Academy, help update the website and serve on the vestry. Our vestry is “in-vested” in the work of the Church. Focus wholeheartedly on stewardship. Churches depend upon vestry to be leaders in church stewardship, often defined as the major work of the church. We know stewardship is a 24-7-365 experience. With the help of clergy and lay leaders, the vestry is tasked with developing high-commitment congregations by making stewardship central to discipleship. We learn the basics of stewardship and the best practices and infuse the spirituality of stewardship into the very life of the parish. Through strategic planning, we deliver effective annual pledge programs, planned giving and capital campaigns. The vestry member models ideal stewardship, giving of their time, talents and treasures, ultimately finding and expressing true joy in generosity. Be alert to opening new doors on your own ministry. In other words be prepared “to go beyond your comfort level”. Support the call to introduce a new idea, enhance a program, and expand the population that you are serving. It is through the continued growth of ministries that the church experiences life in its fullest. We have been amazed at the strength of eleven willing persons marching in the same direction. We have witnessed the growth and success of fellow vestry members once they actually do the 16 | www.episcopalrochester.org
work of the church, not only in stewardship, but also in acting as members of selection committees, in Christian education and in our other ministries. Be willing to go beyond your comfort zone. Support your priest and the ministers of the Church. This premise sounds rather trite and practiced, but we have found that our chief ministers, the priest, the Parish Administrator, the Director of Music, Parish Musician, the Director of Christian Education and our sexton each have been burdened with many and various tasks of running a Church with over 200 members. While we expect that the Priest will listen, comfort, lead, organize, baptize, marry, and bury and bless us according to the needs of all in the parish, many folks do not realize that carrying this responsibility invariably exacts a toll on any human being. We would counsel that vestry and wardens should not assume that the priest as Rector has the job and responsibility alone in dealing with a difficult problem or issue. Take the time to listen and encourage your priests and chief ministers. We have found that when wardens act as a sounding board for the priest and when the priest takes them into her or his confidence, the priest gains a more “rounded” perspective on most any issue with which he/she is engaged. When wardens and vestry take the time to express thanks to the priest and the chief ministers of the Church, we find that it builds a sense of community and goodwill that go well beneath the surface. When the priest approaches wardens and vestry with a problem or issue, church leaders should be prepared to genuinely listen and support your priest and chief ministers. We are now “post warden” and inhabit the “back benches” at church. We will continue to support our Church and are committed to supporting its leadership. We thank you for the opportunity to share our experience and insight with you.
discussion questions In addition to vestry, where are other places that you see leadership in your parish?
young professional leadership expressing faith through service By Jeremy A. Cooney, Esq. Parishioner at Christ Church, Rochester
In our faith community, we often lament over a lack of spiritual engagement by my generation. I, however, want to challenge our traditional engagement measurement as being weekly attendance. It is my belief that a younger generation of Christians more broadly define their worship experience through volunteer opportunities and by serving as active members of our parish communities. For the past thirty-two years, I have expressed my faith through both traditional worship and, more actively, through volunteer service. As a youth, I was active at Christ Church Rochester as an acolyte, usher, chorister, and member of the youth group. On a Diocesan level, I was also part of the generation that first experienced the joys of Creation Camp in the Finger Lakes and that later formed a Diocesan Youth Council to connect with young people across our region. At Hobart College, I was a “chapel rat” and served as a representative to our Diocesan Convention. I also attended St. Peter’s in Geneva and participated in some of its innovative outreach programming. Later, before attending law school, I was called to serve on the Nomination Committee for the Bishop; which was very meaningful and deepened my understanding of our faith. And now, as a young professional
living in Rochester, I find myself again at Christ Church Rochester on Sundays and active on the parish Finance Committee and serving our Diocese through the Disciplinary Board and on the Board of Directors for Episcopal SeniorLife Communities. My faith is strengthened through service to the Church. The greater purpose of these committees, task forces, and boards is to empower and enliven Christ’s mission to others. For me, prayer is a private experience, but volunteer service is an outward expression of my faith. I would venture to say that my volunteer experience is representative of the collective belief by young people that spirituality is not confined to the church pew. Jesus calls each of us to live a purposeful life in service to our neighbors. And, my volunteer work—at both the parish and diocesan levels—provides me with the opportunity to advance our faith, with the ultimate goal of spreading the good news to all. Jeremy A. Cooney, Esq., is the Chief of Staff for City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. He previously served as Vice President of Development for the YMCA of Greater Rochester.
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commission on ministry an awesome responsibility:
helping people discern calls John Clinton Bradley, Lay Member, Commission on Ministry
The Rev. Georgia Carney, who was ordained on January 10, 2014, to the vocational diaconate, worked extensively with Commission on Ministry in discerning her call.
Two sets of experiences prompted me to run for election as a lay member the Commission on Ministry (COM). First, I’ve been a clergy spouse for over 20 years. I’ve witnessed the blessings and challenges associated with ordained ministry—for the clergy themselves, their families, and their congregations. I also chaired parish committees for two lay people discerning a call to ordained ministry. Second, I’ve also been involved with Education for Ministry since 2006—initially as a student, then as a mentor, and now as the coordinator for the Diocese of Rochester. I credit this program with renewing my Christian faith and shaping me into the lay leader I am today. I’m passionate about empowering and equipping lay people to discover and fulfill their baptismal ministry in the church and to the world.
an awesome responsibility. Not only are we dealing with an individual’s vocation, but with the spiritual welfare of those to whom they will minister. I find it to be a great joy when we can affirm a person’s perceived call and a great sorrow when we cannot. The COM is divided into three committees that each focus on an order of ministry (lay, deacon, and priest). I serve on the Lay Committee. Our primary project during the past year was to finalize a curriculum titled Ministry of All the Baptized. It consists of four sessions of about an hour each that explores how we are called to ministry, the spiritual gifts God has given to each of us, where we are currently ministering, and what changes when we see our lives as ministry.
One of the COM’s canonical responsibilities is to interview, at key stages, people who are exploring a call to the diaconate or priesthood. After an interview, we recommend to the bishop that a person move forward in the process, pause, or stop. This is
The curriculum consists of a facilitator guide, participant handouts, and a PowerPoint slide show. I encourage you to download the curriculum from http://com.episcopalrochester.org and to offer it in your congregation.
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the ministry of all the baptized
a new way for all to discern their call to Christian life and leadership By Dave Galleher, Commission on Ministry Since his consecration in 2008, the ministry of all the baptized has been one of Bishop Prince Singh’s abiding interests. In response to his commitment to the development and support of this concept, the Commission On Ministry (COM) was expanded and restructured to include three subcommittees, two for the ordained demographic and one for the laity. The commission was also charged with revising, upgrading and updating the Diocesan Vocational Handbook. This handbook, which was originally designed to be a resource for those seeking Holy Orders, was to be redesigned to include a section to address the needs of those lay persons seeking to discern, understand and act upon their own call to minister in the world beyond the church. While the subcommittees for the priesthood and the diaconate were dealing with the changes appropriate for their areas, the subcommittee for the laity was to design a user-friendly, relevant resource for use by laypersons. A ‘handbook’ for lay ministry is a really new thing, at least in this diocese. Starting from scratch, the theology of what was being attempted needed to be explored in the text. The call to service at baptism, the importance of ministry as explained in the catechism and the influence of scripture on our concept of ministry was distilled and spelled out. Next was discernment. Discernment of one’s call to ministry is not much different for laypersons than for those seeking ordination. Tools and methodology were developed to assist in this endeavor. Finally, helpful texts, programs and websites were evaluated for inclusion as resources folks can use to explore their own spiritual journey toward a more fulfilling and effective personal ministry.
are we called to ministry?,’ ‘What gifts for ministry have we been given by God?’, ‘Where are we ministering today?’ and finally ‘What changes when we see our lives as ministry?’ The program is available as a PowerPoint presentation with printable handout sheets, facilitator guide and a discernment tool. The program has been piloted in its seminal form at St. Peter’s in Geneva and more recently, in its current PowerPoint form, at St. Peter’s, Henrietta. Good News! The task is complete and the final product has been posted on the diocesan website. It can be found at www.com.episcopalrochester.org. On the left side of the screen is a link to the Vocational Handbook as well as the ‘Ministry of All the Baptized’ curriculum. This is indeed a ‘New Thing’—one that deals with an old thing. The new thing is that we as laypersons have a fresh way to discern and follow our calls. The old thing is ministry. All are called in baptism to a life of service. There is nothing new there.
The Rev. Stephen Meister, Bishop Singh, the Rev. Sara D’Angio White and the Rev. Andrew D’Angio White enjoy a tender moment during the baptism of Margaret Rose D’Angio White, daughter of Sara and Andrew.
The subcommittee also developed a program to assist parishes in starting conversations centered on lay ministry. The curriculum consists of four modules of about one hour each, which can be undertaken one at a time (as perhaps a coffee hour adult education series), combined into two two-hour sessions, or taken all together, used as a thematic setting for a parish retreat. Each hourlong session explores one of these questions: ‘How www.episcopalrochester.org | 19
The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester 935 East Avenue Rochester, NY 14607-2216
hearing the call?
Are you interested in serving on the Commission on Ministry, Diocesan Council, Standing Committee or Trustees? Contact the Rev. Canon Julie Cicora, Canon for Mission and Ministry, at email@example.com. If you feel called to vestry leadership, let your clergy know!
Cover photo by David Burnet