Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
I am grateful to everyone who made last weekend’s diocesan convention such a spirited success. Your enthusiasm is a blessing to our church and a great gift to me as your bishop. As I said in my sermon at the convention Eucharist, we have some difficult work ahead of us if we are to become a more spiritually vital, financially sustainable diocese that manifests God’s love in word and deed, but together we have made an excellent start.
Part of that difficult work is to reduce the size of the diocesan staff so that more of the money contributed by the people of the diocese can be devoted to mission and ministry on the local level. In these quickly changing times, adaptability is essential, and we can no longer maintain the large staff we now have. Today, then, I am eliminating four staff positions and, regretfully, ending the employment of four full-time staff members who have given faithful service to our diocese.
Departing staff members whose positions are being eliminated include Rosie Hummel, administrative assistant for programs and database; Kat Lehman, director of communication and information technology; and the Rev. Andrew Reinholz, staff liaison for congregational renewal. As you may know, Ellyn Siftar has resigned as youth and young adult minister and will finish her work with us in mid-November. Ellyn is returning to college, and that position will also be eliminated after she departs.
In addition, we are no longer able to afford the costs associated with the full-time position of archdeacon. The Venerable Howard Stringfellow will end his service in that job at the end of the month. Howard has helped to lead this diocese for the past nine years, and I am grateful to him for his faithful service, his liturgical wisdom and his support of the episcopate.
When I spoke at our convention about the need to make staff cuts, I promised to work extra hard to treat people with dignity and respect. Departing staff members will receive a generous severance that includes career counseling and job placement services or diocesan assistance in seeking a new position in the church.
I want to emphasize that each of our departing staff members made important contributions to the life of the diocese, and I am eager for them to find new and fulfilling employment. Please keep them in your prayers.
Reducing the size of the diocesan staff and the budget required to support diocesan operations is the first step—but only the first step—in creating the vital congregations we all want. I will be in touch in the coming weeks to tell you more about our new and evolving staff structure and help make sure you can direct the concerns you once shared with these former staff members to the proper person. If you have questions in the meantime, please call the diocesan office at 610.691.5655.
Once again, please join me in thanking our departing employees for their service, and remember to keep them in your prayers.
The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe