Updates from the EMDT

Formed in February of 2008, the EMDT (Episcopal Ministry Discernment Team) has been meeting on a regular basis (barring one blizzard) and will offer updates as they produce them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mid-Summer Report to the Diocese

July 16, 2008

The work of the Episcopal Ministry Discernment Team (EMDT)
continues. Meeting-by-meeting we are reaching a greater clarity about our work and direction. As a result, we feel the time has come for another update to you, the people of the Diocese of Northern Michigan.

From the beginning we’ve been modeling this process on the discovery (discernment) process used in most congregations throughout the diocese to form a covenant group. We now have twenty-plus years of experience in this process and think it has served us well. Making this adaptation has been our charge from the Standing Committee. We’ve discovered a great number of parallels but also some differences (for example, in a local discernment process there is no limit to the number discerned for
a particular ministry role, but we are only calling one bishop).

Since one of the key discernment principles used in our congregations requires that we know the people we discern “well to very well,” we’ve tried to use our creativity and imaginations to bring a similar knowledge to this process. We have decided to draw upon the knowledge and insights of some trusted “contacts” around the Episcopal/
Anglican Church who have a grasp of what we are about. We will rely on their input for names rather than on a general invitation to “submit nominations.” We also realize that the required background checks must precede the announcement of any candidate, putting our projected calendar under stress.

Each time we meet we spend time expanding our vision as well as working on the details of discernment. For example, we watched a segment of the video “Wade in the Water” and listened to presenter Fredrica Harris Thompsett explore the differences between the church as “institution” and as the “people of God.”

Along the way we have tried to become knowledgeable about the financial situation of the diocese, knowing that it will have an impact on the shape of episcopal ministry in the future. The Finance Committee has been very helpful in providing their best projections for the foreseeable future. It has become clear to us that the bishop must also function as a ministry developer in conjunction with a diocesan support team, rather than the full-time bishop we have known in the past. As a result, administrative support will need to be carried by others.

We have made a number of key decisions:
• We have embraced the concept of an Episcopal Ministry Support Team (EMST) which was widely supported by the congregational conversations. This will provide the setting
for a broadly collaborative approach to supporting apostolic ministry in the diocese.

• As we envision it, the support team will replace the Core Team and will be made-up of ten to twelve people, including the ministry developers (and bishop), the diocesan operations coordinator, regional representatives and at large members. There will be an attempt to balance the number of compensated and non-compensated members. We also
see an ongoing evaluation of the team leading to a “second generation” in three to five years.

• The Bishop will also serve as a ministry developer (missioner), a decision driven by financial realities as well as the emerging vision we’ve been exploring.

• While the Bishop will carry out the roles designated by the Constitution and Canons such as ordination, confirmation, and attendance at the House of Bishops, other “episcopal/apostolic/oversight” roles will be fulfilled by members of the Episcopal Ministry Support Team (EMST).

• We will present a single name for bishop to the Special Diocesan Convention based on the results of our discernment process.

• We will present names for the Episcopal Ministry Support Team (EMST) to the Special Diocesan Convention based on the results of our discernment process.

• As we seek to discern the team (including the Bishop), we will rely on the following “generally desirable characteristics”:
• Works well with others
• Has good written and oral communication skills
• Has expertise in their area(s)
• Is flexible and willing to work as a team player
• Seriously accepts responsibilities
• Has a clear understanding of Mutual Ministry as it is lived out in this diocese
• Takes time for self-care
• Is comfortable with and willing to share leadership responsibilities
• Is willing to be a reflector for the team
• Is able to recognize the need for confidentiality and to honor those
situations were confidentiality is of utmost importance
• Effectively and respectfully deals with conflict

Finally, the Special Diocesan Convention to affirm (elect) the candidate for bishop and the Episcopal Ministry Support Team (EMST) may be rescheduled to a date in February.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

June, 7 2008 EMDT Update

Today, Saturday June 7, we spent significant time with one of our EMDT "reflectors", Fredrica Thompsett, and our "Companion", Jo Gantzer. It was helpful to the group to hear their reflections, impressions, questions and suggestions.

We continue to work on what our vision of the shared episcopate looks like.

We continue to learn about and wrestle with the finances involved in our vision as it emerges.

There are no names that have been raised, let alone considered, at this point.

There will be a more detailed report in the form of a bulletin insert in late July or early August.

Our next meeting is scheduled for June 21.

Marion Luckey
for the EMDT

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Congregational Feedback - distilled

What we have heard from the Diocese
A compilation of congregational conversations on episcopal ministry

As members of the Episcopal Ministry Discernment Team (EMDT), we have spent time at our first four meetings seeking to consider carefully the results of the congregational conversations that took place throughout the diocese in January and February. We deeply value the work of each congregational gathering at which a variety of voices were heard, and not all voices were in agreement. The following summary, finalized at our meeting on May 17, 2008, distills the essence of what we learned about who we are and what we value as a diocese, our diocesan vision of episcopal ministry, and what we need to do as a diocese to make this vision a reality.

Who we are
We live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, an area of beauty and challenge
• Geographically large with small communities
• Challenging distances and weather
• Economically and financially limited
• Declining and aging population

We are a small diocese of small congregations
• Champions of Mutual Ministry
• A sense of connection within the diocese and with the wider church
• A history of relaxed relationships with our bishops
• Limited resources: members and finances
• High level of involvement
• We have a pioneering, creative, persevering, can-do spirit
• Independent, interdependent
• We are grieving economic, historic and personal losses

What we value
• A sense of family on the congregational, regional and diocesan level
• Ministry founded on the Baptismal Covenant
• Outreach
• Inclusiveness
• Relationships
• Shared leadership
• Education and formation
• Youth participation
• Open communion table
• We respect the gifts and talents of all

Our vision of episcopal ministry
We have a vision of a shared episcopate modeled upon Mutual Ministry in which the Bishop’s primary focus is pastoral, relational and canonical in full partnership with an Episcopal Ministry Support Team.

To make our vision happen
• We will continue to build on the organizational structures that are in place to support the life and ministry of the diocese.
• We will identify an Episcopal Ministry Support Team that includes the Bishop.
• We will make greater use of technology to facilitate communication.
• We will strive to increase an understanding of Mutual Ministry throughout the diocese.
• We will be realistic and responsible about our finances.
• We will determine what an Episcopal Ministry Support Team may do.

May 13, 2008 EMDT update

The discernment process is moving along on schedule. Our first few sessions were led by Marcia Franz, Kevin Thew Forrester, Fran Gardner and Hazel Satterly. Formation and team building were on the agenda for the first few meetings. Kevin led us through a brief oversight of the Enneagram showing us how our personality traits impact group process, how we receive and give information and how we make decisions. Later, using Steven Charleston’s reflection on Episcopal Ministry and spending time in discussion centered around the Congregational responses to questions 1, 2 and 3 the group has begun to get a clear direction of the expectations and hopes of the people in this diocese. This information will be refined and provided to each community for review.

Manual Padilla and Warren Maki from the Finance Committee worked with the group regarding the budgetary information that will also impact the direction of the discernment process. The group was very interested in this information, believes it to be an integral part of our approach to fiscal responsibility and knows this will impact Episcopal Ministry here in The Diocese of Northern Michigan.

The EMDT asked for clarification of its charge from the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee responded and the Team is now clear on their tasks. The team will develop the process of discernment based on the Discovery Process used in the local congregations. Clearly there are steps that need to be adjusted or changed to fit this new category of discernment of our Episcopal Ministry. We are currently identifying these areas and working on adapting the process that has worked so well to define leadership and ministry support in the local communities. The group is also expected to discern the roles encompassed in Episcopal Ministry, the gifts needed for the role of Episcopal Ministry as well as identify people gifted for the role of Episcopal Ministry. Presentation of the names of people discerned for Episcopal Ministry here in the Diocese of Northern Michigan and their identified roles are to be presented at the Diocesan Convention in October.

This work is grounded in prayer, ongoing, sometimes overwhelming, but exciting. You can be proud of the work the Episcopal Ministry Discernment Team is doing. They are a group of dedicated, prayerful people discerned by you. Please continue to support them in prayer and presence as they wrestle with discerning Episcopal Ministry here in the Diocese of Northern Michigan.