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.

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