(The Diocesan Future Committee concluded its work at the 225th Diocesan Convention in November 2016.)
Diocesan Future Committee seeking input
March 15, 2016
The Diocesan Future Committee is contacting the leaders of all parishes and missions in the diocese to update them on its progress and seek input from clergy, vestries and parishioners about the future leadership of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
In a letter sent March 11 to clergy and senior wardens of the 31 congregations of the diocese, the committee said it wants to communicate regarding its work and open a dialogue to hear the views of parishioners about the options for governance that the Future Committee is considering.
The blue-ribbon ad-hoc committee has been meeting since November 2015 and is tasked with studying various possible models for governance, aiming to make recommendation that can be brought before the Diocesan Convention.
In January, Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg announced he will retire as provisional bishop after his visitation calendar concludes in June 2016. To address the shorter-term needs of the diocese, the Standing Committee voted in February to move ahead with calling another part-time provisional bishop. A search process is under way with help from theRight Reverend Clay Matthews, Bishop for the Office of Pastoral Development in the Presiding Bishop’s Office.
Jo Ann Ewalt and Mark Szen, co-chairs of the Future Committee, said theStanding Committee’s decision came as good news to the Future Committee because it allows the diocese to have a smooth and timely transition, while allowing the futures panel to take time to think prayerfully and strategically about the longer-term needs of the diocese.
The Future Committee has sent leaders of each congregation a packet of information about the options the committee has been researching, asking that it be shared with parishioners so they can engage in conversations and provide feedback. Members of the Future Committee are also making themselves available to attend meetings around thediocese to provide information and answer questions.
The committee began by identifying seven main options for governance, and currently is focusing on these four:
· Aim for calling a full-time bishop. The committee noted that a full-time bishop is the ideal, but would require a diocesan budget of $800,000-$1,000,000, compared with the current 2016 budget of $471,737. That would mean most congregations would have to significantly increase what they are giving to support the diocese.
· Elect a part-time bishop.
· Continue with a part-time provisional bishop.
· Create a new diocese by re-unification with Upper South Carolina. This would require approval from both dioceses, but not General Convention approval, because historically the two entities were formed out of one diocese.
The Future Committee noted that the first three options have broader appeal because they allow TECSC to maintain its identity. "There is considerable support and pride in who we are as a diocese and what we have become in three and a half years," the report says.
Diocesan Future Committee
November 5, 2015
Mark Szen*, All Saints, Hilton Head
Bob Pinkerton, St. Mark’s, Port Royal
Emily Guess, Christ Church, Denmark
Lonnie Hamilton*, Calvary, Charleston
Jeremy Cook, Grace, Charleston
Betsy Walker, St. Stephen’s, Charleston
Ginga Wilder, Good Shepherd, Summerville
Jo Ann Ewalt*, St. Francis, Charleston
Bill Lomax, St. George’s, Summerville
Doug Roderick, St. Stephen’s, North Myrtle Beach
Lucille Grate, Holy Cross Faith Memorial, Pawleys Island
The Rev. Jeff Richardson * (St. Alban’s, Kingstree, St. Stephen’s, St. Stephen and St. Catherine’s, Florence)
* Asterisk indicates the Co-Chairs (one representing each Deanery)
Facilitators (Conveners of the four Deaneries)
The Rev. Chris Huff
The Rev. Wil Keith
The Rev. Rick Lindsey
The Rev. John Zahl
Photo album: Meeting of the Standing Committee, Diocesan Council and Trustees of the diocese on September 10, 2015.
Diocesan leaders take first steps in long-range planning process
September 21, 2015
A blue-ribbon, ad hoc committee is being formed to study the possibilities ahead for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and make a recommendation in 2016 about what administrative model will best serve the diocese and its growing congregations in the years ahead.
The committee will be tasked with identifying and investigating options for the future. A major part of its responsibility will be to share information about the options with parishioners across the diocese and seek their opinions and responses. Finally, the panel will make a recommendation directly to Diocesan Convention.
The decision to form the committee came at a special joint meeting of the Standing Committee, the Diocesan Council, and the Trustees of the diocese on September 10, called at the invitation of the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, the provisional bishop of the diocese.
The three groups heard a presentation by the Right Reverend John C. Buchanan, who shared his experience in the Diocese of Quincy (Illinois), where he served as a provisional bishop after a schism there in which about half the diocese left The Episcopal Church.
The South Carolina diocese also suffered a split in 2012. The group that broke away from The Episcopal Church currently controls the diocesan assets, and the majority of parishes aligned with the breakaway group. Those assets and properties are the subject of a lawsuit filed by the breakaways, which is now before the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the continuing Episcopal Church diocese, TECSC, has 30 congregations and an annual budget of about $435,000 in 2015. Bishop vonRosenberg, who came out retirement in 2013 to become provisional bishop, is compensated on a part-time basis.
To outline a way to begin long-range planning for the diocese, Bishop Buchanan recounted the planning process that evolved in Quincy after their schism. At that time, legal battles were ongoing about the property issues there, but the leadership decided it needed to move forward, and formed a blue-ribbon committee to identify all the options for the future of the diocese.
The options included the “usual” model of a diocese with a full-time bishop; or having a part-time bishop; or a bishop who also served as a parish rector; or merging with other nearby dioceses. After investigating all the options thoroughly, the panel made a recommendation to reunify Quincy with the Diocese of Chicago, to which Quincy originally had belonged. The reunification finally took place in 2013.
Bishop Buchanan said reunification was the right option for Quincy, but he reminded the South Carolina leadership, “Dioceses are like snowflakes. Every one is different,” he said.
“South Carolina has lots of options – good options, one that’s particularly made for you. But we won’t know until someone takes a serious look at them.”
When Quincy was discerning its future, it consisted of nine congregations with about 900 total members and an annual budget of about $75,000. South Carolina is in a much different situation, with some 7,000 members in its 30 congregations, and a proposed budget of $465,000 for 2016.
One factor leading up to the conversation has been Bishop vonRosenberg’s future plans as the provisional bishop. While the bishop has made clear that he has no immediate plans to move on, he has said that he forsees that he and his wife Annie will want to return to retirement at some point in the future.
At the September 10 meeting, Bishop vonRosenberg told diocesan leaders that it is important for them to consider the long-range planning that needs to be done for the future of the diocese as a separate issue from his personal plans. Bishop vonRosenberg affirmed – and Bishop Buchanan agreed – that those are two distinct issues.
In a wide-ranging conversation after lunch, the diocesan leadership discussed guidelines for setting up a committee for South Carolina’s future. A primary aim was to have its members be broadly representative in terms of gender, race, age, and geographical location. Leaders also said they will seek a balance of lay and clergy members, and people from long-established congregations as well as newer missions. No parish would have more than one representative on the committee.
The conveners of the four deaneries of the diocese have been tasked with selecting appointees, coordinating with one another to ensure the broadest possible representation. They are the Reverend Rick Lindsey of the Southern Deanery, the Reverend Chris Huff of the West Charleston Deanery, the Reverend John Zahl of the Peninsular Charleston Deanery, and the Reverend Wil Keith of the Pee Dee-Waccamaw Deanery.
The goal is to work with diocesan leadership to have the special committee appointed before the 225th Annual Diocesan Convention November 13-14. The panel’s final recommendation could be made either at a subsequent annual convention, or at a special called convention, if necessary.