By Bishop Todd Townshend
Grace and peace to you as we approach the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany!
An update on proposed changes to Diocesan Governance and Leadership:
With the coming retirement of the Secretary-Treasurer of the Diocese, Canon Paul Rathbone, and with some significant leadership shifts in the work of the Archdeacons, there is a need and opportunity to review the structures and practices of these very important ministries.
Therefore, two processes are simultaneously underway. First, the process of finding new leadership for Administration and Finance (a new Secretary-Treasurer) has begun and we hope to have a person in place by March 2022 to begin work on this transition. Second, the process of renewing the work of leadership in Archdeaconries is also underway. On December 10, 2021, I presented the Diocesan Council with a way forward for the ministry of Archdeacons.
Archdeacons are clergy who are called and authorized by the Bishop to share in the Bishop’s ministry of episcope (oversight) and to support the parishes and deaneries of the Diocese. For many years the Bishop of Huron also worked with one or two Suffragan Bishops who shared in episcopal ministry. For more than five years, there has only been one Bishop and the workload of the Archdeacons (among others) has increased considerably. We have also let go of a central “Director of Mission and Ministry” position over these years. As a result, the cost savings in the Diocesan offices has been significant but there is growing concern that, with these reductions, the Diocese cannot be sustainably served and led in the way it deserves and expects.
Therefore, I have proposed a reorganization of the way we commission and support Archdeacons. We will spend the months of January and February refining the details of this proposal through a consultation process and Diocesan Council will help me come to a decision at our February 26, 2022 meeting. Here are the key points of the proposal:
We would move from seven (7) “Territorial Archdeacons” and Archdeaconries (areas) to three (3).
We would resource each of these three Territorial Archdeacons with $40,000 from Diocesan funds in order to provide her/him with clerical or other support (in addition to the stipendiary resources currently provided by the Archdeacon’s parish).
Each Archdeacon would spend half of her/his time doing archdeaconry work and the other half would continue to be work in her/his parish.
Archdeacons would make approximately twenty (20) Sunday visits per year to parishes in the area to worship with them, to support the local ministry team, and to better know, serve, and develop those communities.
Archdeacons would continue to work closely with the Bishop who would also continue to visit and oversee all areas of the diocese on Sundays and at other times.
The “non-territorial” Archdeacons would continue in their roles without change.
This arrangement would be initially for a period of three years with a thorough assessment after two years. At that time, the Bishop and Diocesan Council (or Synod) could make appropriate changes or continue.
The cost for the first three years would not appear in the annual Diocesan budget but would come from unrestricted funds that have been realized through the sale of church buildings. (These resources would NOT come from the Huron Development Fund. According to Canon 12. H. 4. c, 50% of each sale is deposited in this capital fund and 50% is deposited into the Huron Development Fund).
Please continue to hold your parish and your diocese in prayer as we regroup and plan for the future that the Holy Spirit of God wills for us!