Posted by: Titus Presler | November 16, 2009

Anticipated Episcopal Church Center reorganization could improve world mission coordination

The anticipated reconfiguration of the Episcopal Church Center that is being reported informally looks likely to enhance the potential for coordination in the church’s international mission work by linking related offices to each other within the same unit.

One of four major units that will replace the current four centers is reported to be Global Partnerships.  Within this unit would be located the Mission Personnel Office, the regional partnership officers, the United Thank Offering coordinator, and other offices.

The reorganization, scheduled for implementation January 1, is prompted by the budget cuts necessitated by the reduced revenue of the Episcopal Church, as recognized by the 2009 General Convention budget and implemented since then by the Presiding Bishop and senior Church Center staff.  The 2010-12 triennium budget is $23 million lower than the 2007-09 budget, resulting in extensive program and personnel cuts.

In the current organizational structure, which was implemented following an extensive process after the 2006 General Convention, the former Anglican and Global Relations Cluster was disbanded.  Most of its constituent parts – such as the regional partnership officers, Anglican Communion relationships, Companion Diocese relationships, and the United Thank Offering coordinator – were assigned to the Partnerships Center.  Mission Personnel, however, with oversight of missionary appointees, Volunteers for Mission, and the Young Adult Service Corps, was assigned to the Mission Leadership Center.  Although missionaries are indeed mission leaders, units sharing concerns, contacts and projects in international work, often connecting with missionaries, have found it frustrating to be located in different centers with their differing oversight and priorities.

Global Partnerships will bring some or all of these initiatives under one roof, reportedly with the joint leadership of Ms.  Antoinette Daniels, currently directing the Partnerships Center, and the Rev. Margaret Rose, currently directing the Mission Leadership Center.  Thus the Mission Personnel Office might once again be around the corner from the partnership officers for the regions where many Episcopal missionaries work, which is good news for mission coordination.

Expected staffing

Staffing thus far is expected to continue the current staff, minus some departures.  The Rev. David Copley will continue to direct Mission Personnel and will be the primary contact staff for the Standing Commission on World Mission.  The Rev. Emmanual Sserwada will be the Africa regional officer, Mr. Peter Ng the officer for Asia/Pacific, and the Rev. Glenda McQueen for Latin America.  Bp. Wilfrido Ramos, who has been bishop of Central Ecuador, is anticipated to be the officer for Province IX, which includes the dioceses in countries of the Caribbean (except Haiti) and Latin America that continue to be part of the Episcopal Church.  The UTO Coordinator is Ms. Marci Wolin.

Br. James Teets of the Brotherhood of St. Gregory, Grants and Covenants Officer and long associated with the Companion Diocese Network and the Overseas Leadership Training Program, is unfortunately a casualty of the downsizing from the budget cuts and will be leaving his position at the end of 2009.  Many in the mission community will miss him and his contribution to the church’s world mission engagement – and his good humor and hearty laugh.  In tribute to his work, in 1994 Teets was made honorary canon of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and in 2007 he was made honorary canon of Trinity Cathedral in Monrovia, Liberia.

International Justice & Peacemaking and Ecumenical & Inter-Religious Affairs are reported also to be scheduled to be in the Global Partnerships unit.

The three other units reported to be in the overall plan are:

• Diocesan & Congregational Ministries, which is said to include church-planting and is roughly comparable to the current Evangelism & Congregational Life Center;

• Lifelong Christian Formation & Vocation; and

• Ethnic, Multicultural & Social Witness, which is roughly comparable to the current Advocacy Center.

Three units will continue outside the main four:

• Government Advocacy for Peace & Justice, currently known as the Office of Government Relations, located in Washington, D.C.;

• Episcopal Migration Ministries, which is largely funded by government grants for refugee and resettlement work; and

• Federal Ministries, consisting of military and prison chaplaincies.

Illustrating the cost and drag-time of Church Center reorganizations, it is ironic that amid yet another reorganization the links on the current Partnerships Center page of the Episcopal Church website connect to the old Anglican & Global Relations page, with much of the material now outdated and bearing a copyright date of 2007!

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