December 12, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

First, we would like to thank you for your patience and kindness to the us, the members of the ECMN Standing Committee, these past two months. As you know, on September 25, 2018, our bishop, Brian N. Prior, announced to the Standing Committee his intention to resign in February 2020. Since his announcement, we have been busily building the necessary foundation to launch a bishop search and transition process, and to lay the groundwork for calling the next bishop of Minnesota. We hit the ground running, and began working on several aspects of this foundation at once. Below is a list of what we have been up to, and how you can participate in these early stages of the process.  

Search and Transition Consultant
A consultant is traditionally hired to walk with the Standing, Search, and Transition Committees from the initial building of the foundation of the process all the way to the consecration of the new bishop. The Standing Committee received several candidates from the Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development and ultimately hired the Rev. Dr. Ann Hallisey. Ann is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Northern California and has been ordained for 35 years: 19 years in parish ministry, and then as Dean of Students at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. She is also a Marriage and Family Therapist, a spiritual director and a Certified Co-Active Professional Coach with the Coach Training Institute. Ann has maintained an independent practice since 2001 as an organizational and leadership consultant, and has worked with numerous dioceses within the Episcopal Church as a bishop search consultant.  

The Process: Rules of Order
A bishop search, election, and transition process requires “Rules of Order,” which is basically an agreed-upon procedure (the “who will do what and by when” document). A draft Rules of Order is currently being considered by ECMN Council.  

Also in the past month, members of the Standing Committee composed a draft budget for the search and transition process. At our most recent meeting on Saturday, December 8, we finalized the budget proposal, and have already reached out to ECMN Council,Trustees, and the Joint Finance and Audit Committee to review and adopt the budget that will fund our collective work.  

Theological Statement & Prayer
In order to root our mutual discernment efforts in our love of God, our desire to follow Jesus, and concrete spiritual practices, we have drafted a theological statement (which will be shared in our next communication), and a prayer that we hope each faith community will read, mark, inwardly digest, and pray throughout the entire process of calling our next bishop. The prayer is offered at the end of this communication. 

The initial hope is that we will be able to facilitate our bishop’s desired timeline, namely a fall 2019 election and a February 2020 consecration of the new bishop. There are many required tasks in a bishop search process, some of which are difficult to accommodate to compacted timelines, specifically: the development of a vibrant, honest, and expansive ECMN profile, comprehensive background checks for candidates, and obtaining the consents needed to certify an election from Standing Committees throughout the Episcopal Church. It is also our intention that the search process be as inclusive as possible, which requires additional time and intentionality. The immediate timeline is as follows: 

  • Approval of the budget (ECMN Council, Trustees, and Joint Finance and Audit Committee)
  • Adoption of the Rules of Order (ECMN Council) 
  • Search Committee Job Description and Application Posted (Friday, December 14, 2018)

  • Search Committee Applications due (Friday, January 4, 2019)
  • Selection and announcement of Search Committee (Tuesday, January 15, 2019)
  • Search Committee Organizing Retreat with consultant (January 25-26, 2019 at the Episcopal House of Prayer in Collegeville, MN)
  • Plans made for Job Description and Application for Transition Committee 

Going forward it is our intention to communicate more frequently and succinctly. The Standing Committee is working with Kelsey Schuster, Missioner for Communication, and together we will launch a bishop search website that is a separate website from the ECMN website, though a link to the bishop search site will be prominently displayed on the ECMN website homepage. To communicate directly with those involved with the search process, an e-mail address is available: . The Standing Committee President, Debbie Brown, will monitor this e-mail until the Search Committee takes it over. This address will also be used for the profile and search process.  

Ways to Participate 
There are many ways to be part of the search and transition process! To start off, here are a few: 

  1. Pray!: Pray for the Standing Committee, pray for the process, pray for the leaders serving on ECMN Council and Trustees. Pray for each other — our faith communities, our mission, the health and well-being of our communities. Please use the bishop search prayer (below) in your regular worship.  
  2. Search Committee: When posted this Friday, you will notice a Job Description that includes desired spiritual gifts of members, expectations, roles, and responsibilities. Please read, think, and pray deeply about the Search Committee. Discern whether you feel called to submit your name. Discern other people in your faith community who have some of the desired spiritual gifts, and encourage them to apply.  
  3. ECMN Profile: The Search Committee’s first project will be creating a profile about ECMN — a description of who we are, the mission to which we are called, our hopes, and our challenges. This process will likely include some type of listening process, as well as online surveys. They will need your full participation!
  4. Transition Committee: At the turn of the year, the Standing Committee will discern and appoint a Transition Committee, whose job it will be to thank and celebrate the achievements and legacy of Bishop Prior. Stay tuned for a Transition Committee online application.  

God of light and life, you have faithfully guided the people of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota since the very beginning. You have raised up hard-working and entrepreneurial leaders, blessed us with racial and cultural diversity, deepened our faith, given us the courage to stand with neighbors who are struggling, and increased our awareness of your presence and activity. Help us to trust your Holy Spirit as we open our minds and hearts to discern the leader who can help us participate in your preferred and promised future. In the name of Jesus, the one who came to share our place and free us from everything that keeps us from your love so we can live for others. Amen.   

In conclusion, we ask for your prayers for us, the Standing Committee. We are working hard to be faithful to God and to you, our faith family. We are being careful, listening, working deeply and conscientiously, and living hopefully as we cast our eyes to the future and to the gifts that will be offered through the tenth bishop of ECMN.

The Rev. Debbie Brown, President
Laura Bathke, Vice President

The Rev. Devon Anderson
The Rev. Justin Chapman
Mr. Chris Commers
Ms. Sue Grove
The Rev. Siri Hustad
Ms. Julia New Landrum
The Rev. Blair Pogue
Ms. Alexis Roy
The Rev. Ramona Scarpace
Mr. Rich Simons