December 4, 2017

Dear ones:

Happy new year and blessed Advent to you.   Because so many of you took the time this fall to attend listening sessions, diocesan convention, and diocesan leadership meetings, our shared vision for the future of the Diocese of Indianapolis is taking shape. Today I want to tell you about some staff changes that will happen in the next few weeks as we reorganize the bishop's staff to more fully support that vision.

Fostering collaboration at all levels of the diocese is a central priority for me, and I have asked Canon Brendan O'Sullivan-Hale and Canon Debra Kissinger to serve on my executive team as we seek to work even more collaboratively with one another, Executive Council, and other elected leaders. As canons to the ordinary, both Debra's and Brendan's roles will continue to evolve, with Debra focusing on congregational development and leadership and Brendan on administration and evangelism. As part of this reorganization the general position of "canon to the ordinary" will be eliminated. We will bid farewell to Canon Bruce Gray on January 31.  

Bruce has served our diocese with dedication for many years; first as vicar of St. John's and regional missioner from 1987-1990, and most recently as canon to the ordinary since 2009. He has made a great impact on our diocese, including a new church start, Waycross, and mission strategy. I am deeply grateful for his faithful leadership and ministry over the years and especially during this time of transition.

At the same time, we will bid farewell to Kathy Copas, coordinator of communications and evangelism, who has served in her role since 2003. Kathy will finish her work with us on December 31, after which she will focus on her marketing, media, and public relations company. Kathy also will serve as a principal and director of creative ministries and church advancement for a nationwide ecumenical church think tank. We are grateful for her commitment to church growth and congregational communications, and we wish her well as she pursues these new opportunities. Beginning in January, our communications efforts will be reshaped to support our vision for collaborative mission and ministry; you'll hear more about what to expect early in the new year.  

Please know that you are invited to an open house on Tuesday, December 19 from 11:30-1:30 pm at our diocesan offices to thank both Bruce and Kathy for their many years of work and faithful witness to God's love and mercy across our diocese.

You know already that Sally Cassidy, longtime executive assistant to the bishop, will retire at the end of 2017, and I was grateful that we could celebrate her faithful service at diocesan convention in October. I am delighted to announce that Janet Brinkworth, who has been parish administrator at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bloomington for seven years, will become my executive assistant on January 8. Look for more information in early January about how to reach Janet in her new role.  

Canon Marsha Gebuhr, whose 38 years of service we also celebrated at convention, and Van Beers, executive director of the Waycross Center since 2007, have already announced that they will retire on December 31. I am grateful to both of them for the work they are doing to ensure smooth transitions. Brendan O'Sullivan-Hale is working closely with Marsha to assume her responsibilities, and while Van prepares to move to Florida to care for his parents, the Waycross board continues to move forward in making a healthy transition. The board has called Evita Krislock to return as interim director while it discerns the call of his replacement.

You know already that the first months of a new bishop's tenure are a time of change, of hope for the future, and sometimes also of longing for the past. As our new staff leaders and I explore new ways of working together and discerning the work that God is calling us to do, I hope that you will continue to be honest and faithful in sharing with us your hopes and fears. We want to know both when you find benefit in something new and when things just aren't working. I believe wholeheartedly that our successful collaboration will make the Diocese of Indianapolis even more fully a place of bold witness to the love and mercy of Jesus and radical welcome for all of God's children.  


The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows
Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis

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