Bishop Mariann’s Letter on Staff Transitions

by | Jan 17, 2019

Dear Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington,

Blessings and peace to all. As our annual Diocesan Convention approaches, your diocesan staff is in the final stages of preparation and we look forward to seeing many of you. Thank you in advance for your prayerful, engaged participation as we embark on a journey of collective discernment and strategic planning.

I write today with news of changes and continuity on the diocesan staff.

The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen begins her ministry among us as Assisting Bishop on February 19.

The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen, Assisting Bishop of Washington

Bishop Knudsen will assist in all areas of episcopal ministry, including Sunday visitations, confirmations, ordinations, and celebrations of new ministry. In addition, her ministry will have geographic focus in southern Maryland and the northern regions of the diocese. Finally, she will support the growing deacon’s formation process and provide clergy pastoral care. We are in the process of setting her Sunday visitation schedule now. 

At Diocesan Convention we will celebrate and give thanks for Canon Paul Cooney’s ministry as a wise counsel and faithful servant leader, and pray God’s blessing as he sets his sights on new vocational horizons and the joys of grandparenting.  

For the last several months, I have engaged the professional assistance of Ms. Lauralyn Lee in assessing our current staffing structure in light of Paul’s departure. As we assessed his portfolio, it was clear that Paul was doing the work of at least two positions. Just as we were wondering if there was someone who might be able to assist us in an interim capacity, the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, rector of St. Columba’s, introduced me to Mr. Don Crane.

Don is an attorney, and he has enjoyed a long, fruitful career in non-profit governance, financial oversight, strategic planning and personnel management. Now semi-retired, he had mentioned to Ledlie that he was looking for a “meaningful project in a value-based organization.” By God’s grace, he has found his project in the Diocese of Washington.

Don has accepted the position of Interim Senior Counsel to the Bishop and Chief Operating Officer. He will, as his title suggests, assume the governance, financial, strategic planning, Bishop Walker School and staff oversight functions that were part of Paul’s portfolio. He has already begun working alongside Paul to assure a smooth transition and we are grateful.

On the administrative side of diocesan staff, Ms. Kathleen Hall continues her excellent work in Human Resources for congregations, clergy and lay employees, and diocesan staff. Mr. Peter Turner continues his ministry of Information Technology, assisting congregations with website design, data management software, and other technical support.

I have invited Canon Paula Clark, currently Canon for Clergy Development, Multicultural ministries and Justice, to assume the position of Canon to the Ordinary. Paula’s long-standing ministry in the diocese and her many leadership gifts will serve us well in her new role. She will keep in her portfolio congregational transitions and justice ministries, in addition to assuming the work as primary counsel to the bishop, oversight of the ministry staff, and strategic work with Diocesan Council.

Under Paula’s direction, the Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips, Senior Associate for Leadership and Congregational Care, will take on the work, currently carried out by Paula, of  overseeing the ordination process for the priesthood, staff the Commission on Ministry, and work with congregations experiencing conflict or trauma.

Ms. Mildred Reyes’ title is now Missioner for Formation with a particular focus on youth ministry and elder spirituality, lay leadership development, and congregational asset mapping.  

The Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin continues her strong leadership in Latino Ministry, providing support for Latino congregational leaders and herself leading our newest Latino mission, Misa Magdalena.  

The Rev. Sue von Rautenkranz’ position as Archdeacon is now full time, a reflection of the tremendous growth in the diocesan deacon’s program. Sue will also provide program support as needed for other diocesan ministries.

The Rev. Dr. Patricia Lyons title is now Canon for Evangelism, making her a member of the bishop’s senior staff. She will continue to develop and support young adult and campus ministry, congregational growth grants, and welcoming/hospitality ministries. Tricia will also work with leaders throughout the diocese on new ministry initiatives and emerging faith communities.

Under Tricia’s direction, Daryl Lobban, Missioner for Communications, will continue to develop and strengthen diocesan communications and public witness, assisted by the Rev. Richard Weinberg.

The Rev. Dr. Michele Hagans, Canon for Ministry Initiatives, is the fourth member of the bishop’s senior staff. She continues to provide counsel for the diocese and individual congregations in areas of real estate development and property management. Canon Hagans is also committed to the ministries of Washington National Cathedral, the Bishop Walker School, and Grace Episcopal School, among others.

Ably supporting and equipping diocesan ministry are the administrative staff: Ms. Keely Thrall, Executive Assistant to the Bishop; Ms. Cheryl Daves Wilburn, Associate for Pastoral Care and Canonical Acts, Ms. Raihana Bashir, Program Assistant, Mr. Kelly Cooper, Accounting Associate, and Kimberly Vaughn, Data Management Associate.

Finally, as we enter the season of strategic planning, we have engaged The Unstuck Group Church Consultants to guide us. On Friday evening, January 25th, all have the opportunity to meet the founder and president, Tony Morgan, and hear the Unstuck Group’s approach to engaging congregations and us as a denomination in the work of renewal and sustained health. Finally, we’ve asked Ms. Lauralyn Lee, whose guidance has proven so helpful both with the staff transition and the strategic planning process,  to continue to assist us for a few more months to promote a continued smooth transition in staff functioning and fruitful launch of the strategic planning work.

I will speak about the strategic planning process in greater detail as part of my convention address. If you are not planning to attend convention, my address, Tony Morgan’s presentation on Friday, and Ms. Nancy Beach’s sermon at Convention on healthy church culture will all be live streamed and available afterwards on the diocesan website.

Please know how grateful I am to continue to serve Christ and this diocese as your bishop. I also give thanks for those serving on the diocesan staff, for their courage and openness as we consider all that we are and do as a diocese with an eye toward greater fruitfulness.

I invite you to commit yourself daily as a disciple of Jesus, and I ask for your wholehearted engagement, and honest feedback as we discern how best to be witnesses to Jesus’ way of love as the Episcopal Church in our communities.