Well . . . since you asked . . .
Since the announcement of the Episcopate transition a number of folks have asked me to give my sense of an overview of ECMN for the last 10 years. The first thing that I would want to reiterate is that a part of my discernment to resign actually has to do with the health of ECMN. We are resource-rich—ECMN is full of innumerable great people doing great missional ministry. And professionally speaking, when an organization is in that place, it’s a great time for leadership transition. As leadership transition experts Jane Edison Stevenson and Gram Poston write, think progression, not succession.
Here are a few of my thoughts about the transition:
One of the most impactful things I read while in my discernment process during the last bishop search was, “We want to be a different kind of diocese.” That, combined with other material, and especially the things I heard during walkabouts around the great state of Minnesota, gave a clear sense of direction for where we wanted to go.
Fundamentally, we wanted to change our functioning from Episcopate-centric to missional-centric.
From regulatory to resource.
From mandate to invitational.
From silo to networking.
From an ‘us and them’ mentality to embracing that we are all the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.
At the core was a strong desire to reclaim our missional roots: to collectively and collaboratively, as a network, assist our faith communities to get the resources they need to engage God’s mission in their context, because our primary scriptural and theological understanding is that transformation happens locally—in the local faith community and in the local neighborhood. (You may appreciate this short video we produced that depicts how we live and move and have our being).
The scaffolding for this missional work we have been called to has been built on Mission, Ministry, and Management.
Mission: that every faith community has discerned their particular gifts and passions and has engaged with their neighbors to determine needs and potential partnerships.
Ministry: that every faith community is fully living into the ministry of all the baptized, manifested in relationship with all four orders of ministry.
Management: that every faith community has sustainable resources.
One of the things that I appreciate greatly about serving as your Bishop is the deep love people have for being Episcopalian and being Minnesotan, and even more, being Minnesotan Episcopalians. To be a Minnesotan Episcopalian, to me, means having an incredible grounding in our profound history and tradition, and having a present-day passion for engaging God’s mission of the Beloved Community.
I have been blessed and privileged to serve as the 9th Bishop, and now the Spirit is calling ECMN to discern the 10th. My one word of advice after experiencing both individual and congregational transitions for over 20 years is that the healthy place, the sweet spot, is found between wanting the new person to have completely different gifts from or completely identical gifts to the person they’re following. And perhaps the most critical part of this process is remembering that the gifts you seek are for the next chapter, the next place the Spirit is leading you.
As always, I invite all of us to pray deeply and participate fully in this process, including participating in the Bishop Search listening sessions and by filling out the Bishop Search Survey.