|Monday, April 10, 2017
A Letter from Bishop Daniel G.P. Gutiérrez and the Standing Committee
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
In February, the Standing Committee and Bishop Gutiérrez met for a second sacred retreat. We shared meals and the Holy Eucharist. We shared personal stories, prayer, laughter, reflection, and a period of discernment. This meeting was transformational. We realized that we are living into our prayer of seeing one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. It was a time of blessing, hope, and renewal.
In August of 2016, we met for our first retreat and entered into a covenantal relationship. In 2017, we firmly and joyfully recommitted to supporting and sustaining one another. Ours is a sacred ministry that will be known by its transparency, openness to broad and differing points of view, and a radical inclusion to everyone and anyone seeking Jesus Christ. We invite all members of the Diocese to participate in these new and renewed ministries. We will strive to create a place where everyone belongs, and all voices are heard. We are inviting the world to come and see the faithful work in the vineyard of our diocese.
As part of our time together we celebrated the achievement of our hopeful and stated goal from the August retreat. At that time, we committed to work collaboratively to create a Congregational Life and Redevelopment Team. This team would be set up to empower all congregations to grow, dream, envision and plant the seeds of ministry. That team is now a reality and utilizes the enormous talents and gifts of the clergy and laity of the Diocese. They will be embarking on their first retreat and from there will begin their mission to identify churches and missions that might benefit from their assistance.
We also spent time discerning the sacred stories of hope and engagement from the Come and See Pilgrimage. We also shared how the pilgrimage is forming our Episcopacy through prayer, proclamation, and peace. We also envisioned how we could continue to expand our ministries to include, engage and empower in the name Jesus Christ.
Finally, in leaving the February 2017 retreat, we are united and hopeful. We wanted to share some of the items we discussed and agreed upon.
We are blessed to serve you and be part of this new and holy work. We are confident of the future of the Diocese of Pennsylvania because of our faith and hope in Jesus Christ. Let us love God and love one another.
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G.P. Gutiérrez
The Standing Committee
Norman M. McCausland
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
A Letter From the Standing Committee
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Bishop’s announcement that he is calling for the election of a new Diocesan is a magnificent sign of healing and health for our Diocese. We are deeply grateful for Bishop Daniel’s ministry among us over the past two years and the leadership and love and spiritual gifts he has shared with all of us. We are thankful, too, that he will remain with us until God ordains our next Bishop, sometime in 2016.
When a Diocesan Bishop announces that it is time to elect the next Bishop, the Standing Committee has the responsibility of appointing two committees that will direct our common work in calling the person who will be our next Bishop. The first committee is a search committee that takes up the work of listening to the Diocese to discern the kind of Bishop we need for our Diocese, interviewing possible candidates, and putting forth a slate of finalists. The second committee is an electing/transition committee. This committee is responsible for introducing the candidates to the Diocese, organizing forums with the candidates and the people of the Diocese so that we may know them and they may begin to know us, holding the election, transitioning the Bishop and her/his family to the Diocese, and planning the ordination and consecration liturgy and celebration.
The work of calling a new Bishop is not just the work of these committees, but is the work of all members of the Diocese through prayer and participation through the various stages of discernment, call, election and ordination.
Although until this week we did not know when Bishop Daniel would call for an election, the Standing Committee has been preparing for Bishop Daniel’s announcement over the past six months. We have met with Bishop Clay Matthews, Office of Pastoral Development for the Episcopal Church, to learn about the shape and requirements of the search process. We have hired a search consultant, Ms. Lynn Schmissrauter, who is the best consultant in the Church by all accounts. Lynn has significant experience, both as a member of a Bishop search committee as well as guiding many Bishop search committees throughout the Church. We have been on retreat with our consultant and have begun to shape the characteristics of the search and election/transition that we feel will be most effective for our Diocese.
In the coming weeks the Standing Committee will be discussing the size of the committees and the qualities of the persons needed to accomplish the work. Both committees will be representative of the beautiful variety present in our Diocese and everyone on the committees will need to be willing to give a significant amount of their time for this work to be effective.
As we enter this season of Advent, with all its depth of anticipation and hopefulness, we invite you to join us now in prayers of thanksgiving for our Diocese and the expanding mission of Christ’s Church in this place. We invite you, too, to join us in prayer for these next steps and for the call of our next Bishop Diocesan.
As we know more about the shape of the process, so will you.
Grace and Peace to you.
The Rev. W Frank Allen
Mr. Norman McCausland The Rev. Kathy Andonian
The Rev. Kirk Berlenbach Ms. Jane Cosby
Ms. Deborah Brown Mr. Paul Yaros
Ms. Pat Smith The Rev. Hillary Raining
The Rev. Deirdre Whitfield
Letters to Diocese from the Standing Committee
November 4, 2014
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:Proverbs tells us “Where there is no vision the people perish.”(29:18). For many years our Diocese has struggled to move forward faithfully without the benefit of a vision to guide us. This has contributed to feelings of disconnectedness and made it more difficult to deal with the realities of decline in a cohesive and consistent manner.At our most recent meeting the Standing Committee was reminded of this reality as we grappled with a number of decisions involving the future of parishes struggling to maintain their buildings. For example we were shocked to learn of significant structural and electrical issues that could threaten the safety of worshippers at one parish. In response we asked Sean McCauley, our diocesan property manager, to get a building inspector out as soon as possible so that we can then make an informed decision about what to do next. In another case we received a request from a parish that wanted to change over its heating system from oil to natural gas. This promised potential savings in their heating bill that could amount to $10,000 or more. After some discussion we agreed to serve as a guarantor with PGW to allow the work to proceed. We also authorized Sean to proceed with the sale of Saint Phillip’s Church, which was deconsecrated a number of years ago. Although we kept this building with the hope that we might eventually start new ministry from it, the reality was that keeping it was far more complicated and difficult than we ever could have anticipated.
On a positive note we also considered a request from the Reverend Doris Rajogopal to use part of the proceeds from the sale of a now closed church to begin mission work in Darby Borough. While we were deeply impressed with her entrepreneurial spirit and vision we concluded that we could not commit money from a building which has not yet sold, especially when the balance of the Property Fund (which is used to pay for the expenses and maintenance of closed churches as well as the salaries of the diocesan Property Manager and the Caretaker of the Maryland Property) is running dangerously low. Ultimately we referred her to Diocesan Council to explore the possibilities for this new mission and how it might be funded.
We recognize that this is not a healthy way to make decisions. Many times these situations come to our attention at the eleventh hour and we are still figuring out how they should be made and who should be making them.
In response we are striving to work more collaboratively with the other governing bodies of the Diocese. Thankfully the above decisions regarding property had followed the proper chain and had all gone before the Finance Committee the week before. Perhaps more importantly we are beginning to wrestle with the reality that many of our parishes are facing enormous amounts of deferred maintenance. Although none of us wants to see another parish close, the hard truth is that even if they were viable in terms of income and attendance, there simply is not enough money to fix all the buildings. It is here that we need a vision that will guide us so that we may ensure that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is shared most effectively throughout the whole of our Diocese. We also need clear procedures so that when a need or problem does arise the parish knows exactly whether or not it should first go to Diocesan Council, the Finance Committee, the Diocesan Consultation Team, or Standing Committee.
Above all, the Standing Committee recognizes that we cannot wait for the election of a new bishop to undertake this work. Although she or he will bring their own perspective to this process, we must continue to prayerfully and deliberately discern a vision of who God is calling us to be and then lay out a path to get there. Speaking of our next bishop, we continue to work closely with Bishop Dan to discern the time in which he will call for the election. As we move forward, we continue to be blessed by his leadership, pastoral support, and thoughtful guidance.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that as a final order of business we expressed our thanks to The Rev. Ledlie Laughlin. As many of you know Ledlie helped to guide the Standing Committee and our Diocese through the upheaval and uncertainty that characterized much of the last five years. Since he has chosen not to run for a second term we ask that you join us in offering thanks and appreciation for his hard work.
Please keep us in your prayers.
The Reverend Kirk T. Berlenbach
All Saints Day
November 1, 2014
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members have different functions; so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ of the Diocese of Pennsylvania,
We give thanks to God and to all of you for this past year of mission and ministry in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. God has blessed us in so many ways through our shared ministry as a Diocese and through the individual parishes and missions that are communities of God’s love and God’s gift to countless others day in and day out. For while we have differing responsibilities and different ways of going about our ministries, we are a community of love. We are a community that is seeking to use our various gifts to worship God and to serve the needs of God’s world. We are a community that is being led by God to be Christ to one another and to be Christ to the world. We are a blessed people.
As members of the Standing Committee, we have the pleasure of seeing a fairly wide scope of Diocesan activities and ministries. The Standing Committee is primarily a committee of advice and consent for the Bishop, but in that role we support the Commission on Ministry in raising up persons for ordained ministry. We serve on the commissions and committees of the Diocese in a liaison role and in support of their work. We called for the Diocesan Transition Team which has done such healing work over the past year and promises to bring more healing and vision going forward. And, we advise the Bishop on matters of property and ministry and give our consent according to the Canons. We are but one part of the Body of Christ in the Diocese and are honored to be a part of this great enterprise.
As you look over the report of the actions of the Standing Committee over this past year, you will see the work that has been accomplished and some of the continuing work that is before us. Please note that all of this work and discussion is being accomplished as a community of prayer and grace.
Please keep Standing Committee and the entire Diocese in your daily prayers so that we may all use our gifts for God and grow in community and fellowship with God and one another in the years to come.
On behalf of the Standing Committee, grace to you and peace.
The Rev. W. Frank Allen
Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania
Ms. Deborah Brown
Ms. Jane Cosby
Mr. Mac McCausland
Ms. Patricia Smith
Mr. Paul Yaros
The Rev. Kathryn Andonian
The Rev. Kirk Berlenbach
The Rev. Ledlie Laughlin
October 23, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
During our September meeting, we were uplifted and inspired when the Standing Committee welcomed the Reverend Samuel Adu-Andoh and members of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Monica to celebrate and approve their request to be admitted as a parish at the 2014 Diocesan Convention. We listened to testimonial stories of their history, their engaged meaningful outreach to the community and the path to strengthening their stewardship for this transition. Each member described their commitment to foster a strong, forward-thinking community of faith. They also identified their greatest strengths as:
-The faith of all generations is nurtured
-There are many diverse ministries that invite all members to participate
-Stewardship is taught to younger generations and encouraged for all
-Challenges are embraced with hope and creativity
-The Church community feels the guidance of the Holy Spirit
Before ending our time with Father Sam and the 13 church members, they were asked to give three words that means for them to be “the church.” Those three words that resonated throughout were Faith, Hope, and Love. Hallelujah! Amen!
Our meeting took a brief moment to reflect on what we just experienced from the Church of St. Andrew and Monica, however, we knew we had more work to do. Upon receiving August’s Financial Report from Canon for Finance, Rob Rogers, we are happy to report that the Diocese continues to remain at a healthier level than at any other time in recent years. The Reverend Kirk Berlenbach reported on the work of the Finance Committee and the proposed 2015 Diocesan Budget. We were also informed that the Diocese received a one-time $10,000 wellness grant from the Widow’s Corporation for the Canon for Pastoral Care. The Standing Committee approved the recommended that the Episcopate Assessment be reduced by the amount of the grant.
The Standing Committee made plans for its upcoming planning session with the Bishop search consultant, Lynn Schrimsrautter, which was held on Sunday, September 28. We reviewed a comprehensive list of Standing Committee responsibilities and timeline for decisions and actions as described in the publication, “The Raising Up of Episcopal Leadership: A Manual for Diocese in Transition.” Our goal is to be prepared to undertake our responsibilities when Bishop Daniel discerns that it is time to call for the election of a Bishop.
We are also looking forward to our meeting with the Commission on Ministry scheduled for October. It has been a few years since we last had a conversation regarding how processes work within COM, how our communication may be more effective, and to identify current concerns or issues that impact the process. The Standing Committee applauds the diligent work the Commission on Ministry has undertaken over recent years. It should be noted that there have been four bishops who have overseen all or part of the discernment and ordination process; each bishop bringing his own perspectives, values and ideas that have impacted the deliberations of the COM. The Standing Committee expresses their gratitude for the opportunity to meet with the Commission on Ministry.
Other news to briefly report:
-Occupancy for the New Diocesan offices at the Cathedral Commons is scheduled for January 1, 2015
-Members of the Standing Committee will be attending each of the Pre-Convention meetings to answer questions and report on its work.
Exciting things are happening for the Diocese of Pennsylvania! The Standing Committee hopes that you are embracing the love, grace and mercy as we are while doing God’s Work, God’s Way, with God’s People. Continue to look for news from us as we move forward with Bishop Daniel in supporting the life of the Church. Until next month, we remain,
Debora K. Brown, Member
September 19, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As one of the newest members of the Standing Committee, I have been asked to give my perspective on what we are doing and how I see the health of the Diocese moving forward. I am very optimistic that we are becoming healthier and more vibrant as we share our stories and participate in the many seminars and committees being made available to us each month. Currently, I have been assigned to the Finance Committee as a Standing Committee representative. From this vantage point, I see that our Diocesan pledge receipts are increasing and our communications are getting better.
Last month, the Standing Committee offered an update on several aspects of our work as well as our observations about the improving health of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. We continue to witness this positive direction and would like to share some of the issues addressed at our meeting in August that may be of interest to you.
The Rev. Ledlie Laughlin provided a comprehensive update on the work of the Diocesan Transition Team (DTT), which is a broadly representative committee created by the Standing Committee nearly two years ago to foster healing, reconciliation, and renewed health in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. The DTT has been holding “Re-Membering” workshops throughout the Diocese for many different groups, from governance bodies to parishes. The goals of these gatherings are to:
– Learn from the whole history of the Diocese, not just one small part of that history
– Reconcile misunderstandings
– Create safe space for individuals to risk honesty and disagreement
– Use what is learned to plan for the future of the Diocese to help us meet the challenges ahead
– Use what is learned to inform the discernment process for our next bishop
The Standing Committee welcomed and received an update from Dr. Thomas Gordon, a consultant to the Diocese working with the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE), the Norristown Collaborative (St. Augustine of Hippo, All Saints, and St. John’s), and the Anti-Racism Commission. He is a psychologist by training and his goal is to help leaders improve their skills and tactics in order to be successful. He has been working primarily with groups and congregations that are comprised of people of color. He asks questions about identity, hopes, and the gap between what is wished for and what “is” to develop a plan that helps groups to meet their goals in a sustainable way.
Much of his current work is to assist different groups within the Diocese to better respond to changes in culture, in the Church, and in their communities so that they may look toward the future, adapt, and thrive. In particular, he recognizes that there is a need to move churches from being “clergy-centric” to encouraging the ministry of all of the baptized and empowering leadership by the laity who are committed to change. Part of this change is spurred by encouraging people to speak out and then be responsible for their own transformation. Dr. Gordon sees his role as being a truth-teller who asks difficult questions and then helps to facilitate change. We are grateful for his leadership, ability to restore and renew relationships, and pioneering ideas.
There is a remarkable amount of innovative work being undertaken in the Diocese—from geographic collaborations to renew ministry, to new partnerships between churches and community organizations, to renewing and rethinking how churches merge and converge to better serve their local communities. We are appreciative and strongly supportive of the work of the Diocesan Consultation Team, which is assisting many of these efforts, and for the willingness of the people of the Diocese of Pennsylvania to pursue new ideas with confidence and hope.
As we look toward the future, the Standing Committee continues to proactively prepare for the election of the next Bishop, while continuing to benefit from the generous leadership of Bishop Daniel. At the end of September, we will meet with our consultant Lynn Schmissrauter, to initiate the development of the structures and planning necessary to undertake this important work when Bishop Daniel calls for the election. We also are continuing to work closely with Bishop Daniel to inform and support his discernment regarding the appropriate time to call for this election.
Over the upcoming months, we will continue to keep the Diocese informed of our work in these and other areas that impact our common life and ministry. If you have any questions, please contact me or a member of the Standing Committee.
August 11, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Several months ago, Bishop Daniel and I shared with you our observations about the improving health of the Diocese of Pennsylvania in terms of healing, reconciliation, and the growing number of creative, forward-thinking ministries being undertaken by parishes. This good work continues apace, due to the leadership of clergy and laypersons in our parishes and missions as well as the many Diocesan and Deanery committees that help build up the ministry of the Diocese. The members of the Standing Committee continue to witness this positive trajectory in the Diocese through many facets of our work that we would like to share with you now and over the coming months.
One of the most important responsibilities of the Standing Committee is to approve candidates for Holy Orders. This work is undertaken in collaboration with the Bishop and the Commission on Ministry; each entity has specific canonical roles and duties. We are amazed by the commitment, diversity, and preparation of the candidates whom we are privileged to meet and converse. They are aware of the rapid changes taking place in the Episcopal Church, and are ready to meet them with grace and creativity. In particular, we are encouraged by the growing numbers of people who are called to the servant ministry of the vocational deacon. This reflects an increasing commitment to social justice, outreach, and service by the Church as a whole. The Episcopal Church will be enlivened by the many gifts of those beginning and continuing their journey towards ordained ministry.
The Standing Committee is also proactively preparing for the election of the next Bishop, working closely with Bishop Daniel to assist his decision regarding the appropriate time to call for this election. We will have a retreat with Bishop Daniel in mid-September to continue this mutual prayerful discernment. Once the call for election is made, the Standing Committee has the responsibility of establishing the overarching process and timelines of the search and election process; appointing the Discernment/Search Committee; and appointing the Committee that will direct the election and transition of the new Bishop into the Diocese. In anticipation, we have engaged in-depth conversations with the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, Bishop of the Office of Pastoral Development for the Episcopal Church and engaged a knowledgeable consultant, Lynn Schmissrauter, to assist in our development of the structures and planning necessary to undertake this important work. Please keep this work in your prayer and consider who best should serve on these committees.
It is a privilege to serve on the Standing Committee and I am deeply grateful for this opportunity and all the life that God is bringing into being in our community. We will continue to keep the Diocese informed of our work in these and other areas that impact our common life and ministry. As always, if you have any questions, please contact me or a member of the Standing Committee.
The Rev. W. Frank Allen
President of the Standing Committee
Report from the Diocesan Transition Team
March 6, 2013
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
When the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania met in Special Convention on January 13, 2013 to elect the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, 3rd as Bishop Provisional, reports were also offered to the delegates regarding plans for the upcoming months of transition. The Rev. Dr. Pamela Nesbit spoke about the nascent activities of the Transition Team appointed by the Standing Committee. The work of the Transition Team is moving forward and we would like to share its progress and plans with you.
As reported to the Special Convention, the Transition Team has identified three primary categories of need/concern expressed by the people of the Diocese of Pennsylvania:
In order to respond to these somewhat disparate voices and develop a cohesive plan to guide their work, the Transition Team has determined the need to secure the expertise and guidance of experienced church consultants from outside the Diocese. After many weeks of research and interviews, the Transition Team has selected Ms. Katherine Tyler Scott and her team from KI Thoughtbridge, a consultancy group based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ms. Tyler Scott has been involved in working with churches and dioceses in The Episcopal Church for many years. She and her team will begin interviews and a thorough diagnostic process in order to create a plan for a transition that will make us ready as a diocese to work together for our future.
The members of the Transition Team are:
The Rev. Dr. Pamela Nesbit, Chair of the Diocesan Transition Team firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rev. Dr. Sam Adu-Andoh, Rector, Church of St. Andrew & St. Monica, Member of the Standing Committee
Ms. Debora Brown, Church of St. Andrew & St. Monica, Member of the Standing Committee
Mr. Patrick Connelly, Good Samaritan, Paoli
Mr. Jack Henn, St. Christopher’s, Gladwyne
The Rev. Matt Holcombe, Associate Rector, St. Davids, Radnor, Treasurer of the Episcopal Clergy Association of Pennsylvania, Co-Chair, DioPA Young Clergy Association
The Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, Rector, St. Peter’s Third & Pine, President of the Standing Committee
Ms. Arlene McGurk, St. Luke & the Epiphany, Member of the Standing Committee
The Rev. Marissa Rohrbach, Assistant to the Rector, Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square
The Very Rev. Judith Sullivan, Dean, The Philadelphia Cathedral, Council of Deans
The Rev. Paula Lawrence Wehmiller
The Standing Committee is grateful for the ongoing work of the Transition Committee and looks forward to participating in its work and receiving its recommendations over the upcoming months. We will continue to keep the Diocese of Pennsylvania updated regarding its activities.
May your Lent be a blessed time of reflection, reconciliation, and renewal as we make the journey to the Day of Resurrection.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, President, Standing Committee
The Rev. Kathryn Andonian, Member, Standing Committee
A Letter From The Standing Committee…
October 9, 2012
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Bishop Bennison has informed the Standing Committee of his intention to resign effective December 31, 2012. We are making plans now to honor his tenure as our Bishop during the upcoming Diocesan Convention and we will share those with you as soon as possible.
The Standing Committee has concluded, in consultation with the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, the Bishop for the Office of Pastoral Development in the Episcopal Church, that the best interests of our Diocese will be served by the prompt election of a Provisional Bishop to serve as our Ecclesiastical Authority during the upcoming time of transition while we go through the process of electing a new Bishop Diocesan. (A “provisional bishop” exercises the full authority of a diocesan bishop but is elected to serve for a set period of time, generally as an interim between bishops. As a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff, Bishop Matthews assists dioceses through pastoral transitions and the election of bishops). It is our intent to hold a Special Convention to elect a Provisional Bishop in early 2013 and we have asked Bishop Matthews to start the process of identifying possible candidates for this position.
The Standing Committee, working collaboratively with other Diocesan Leaders, will articulate basic goals for diocesan health and vitality that we may all address during this upcoming time of transition, determine how long our Provisional Bishop should be asked to serve, and will prepare a job description which Bishop Matthews can use to identify candidates. We will present a comprehensive timeframe at our Diocesan Convention. We hope you will share with us your wisdom and concerns as we move forward.
Looking ahead, please be assured that the Standing Committee intends to engage other Diocesan Leaders in decision making, work in close consultation with the office of the Presiding Bishop, and provide timely communication to the entire Diocese so all of us may be fully engaged in this vital next chapter of our common life.
With faith in Christ,
The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin
President, The Standing Committee
With The Rev. Dr. Samuel Adu-Andoh, The Rev. W. Franklin Allen, The Rev. Kathryn Andonian, Mrs. Jane Cosby, The Rev. Sherry Crompton Deets, Mr. Christopher Hart, Ms. Jo Ann B. Jones, Mr. Norman M. McCausland, Ms. Arlene McGurk
Please direct comments or concerns to: