Our Diocesan FutureApril 28, 2023 News
Our bishop plans to retire in June of 2024. In a conventional diocese, the typical procedure would be for the diocese to elect someone to become a bishop coadjutor, that is, the one who would become our next diocesan bishop. However, we are not in a conventional diocese. Our diocese was originally formed to help our province, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), fund a provincial position, the Dean of International Affairs. Bishop Bill Atwood has been serving in this role since 2009 while at the same time serving as the bishop of the International Diocese.
All the churches in the International Diocese were asked to make sacrifices so that our bishop could serve in this way, foregoing some of the typical resources and support structures found in a conventional diocese. By and large, the International Diocese was meant to be a temporary arrangement for a critical season in the life of the ACNA.
As our bishop approaches retirement, he has given his churches permission to explore their diocesan future. Over a year ago, our vestry formed the Diocesan Discernment Team to spearhead this effort. Their work has led them to consider various factors that are important for our diocesan life, factors such as
clergy care and support
theological and cultural fit
church planting processes
Assessing different dioceses has led our team to learn a lot about what it means to be a part of a conventional diocese, something that will be new to us. We have also learned that our parish has much to learn about diocesan life and what that might look like.
Typically, a conventional diocese has a home office and various staff members that support the parishes in that diocese. These staff and volunteer positions are appointed by the bishop, some of which may include:
- Bishop Suffragan – an assisting bishop for the diocese if needed
- Canon to the Ordinary – assists with the ordination process, clergy credentialing, communications, and clergy networking and formation
- Canon for Leadership Development – provides leadership support and training
- Canon for Church Planting – creates and implements a church planting strategy for the diocese
- Canon Missioner – advocates for and coordinates international mission efforts
- Canon for Youth and Family – supports and encourages student ministry
- Deans – provides leadership and pastoral care to regional clergy convocations or deaneries
- Administrative Staff – for example, a Diocesan Administrator, a Chief Operations Officer, Communications Director, a Financial Director, etc.
There are also committees that serve the diocese, including one that acts very much like the vestry of a parish, sometimes called the Standing Committee.
The Diocesan Discernment Team will be offering a Parish Forum on Sunday, April 30 at 6:30 pm to provide an update comparing the features of the two remaining dioceses under consideration: Anglican Diocese of the South (ADOTS) and the Diocese of Christ Our Hope (COH). We hope you will participate in this forum and help us think through all the critical factors that will inform our diocesan future.