When a system like a diocese moves into the time of transition from one bishop to another, the people charged with discerning the choices for election do well to take time considering what makes for a good fit between themselves and the candidates. The Listening Events were the first step we took in making ourselves more aware of who we are, how we are, and who we hope to become. The second step we took involved looking at ourselves honestly.
The Search Committee invited all members of the Standing Committee, the Council of Trustees, the Finance Committee of the Council of Trustees, and the Transition Committee, to join them at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Harrisburg, on April 25th and 26th. Assisting Bishop Bob Gepert and the Very Rev. Ronald H Clingenpeel, our consultant from the National Church guiding us in the Bishop Search process, were also with us. The Search Committee asked Bob Gallagher, OA, and Michelle Heyne, OA, who are congregational development consultants in religious systems,to facilitated both meetings. They brought skill in facilitation, but more significantly, skill in helping large groups of church leaders come to grips with understanding what’s going on in the system, and how to make changes for health and faithfulness.
The Search Committee scheduled and hosted the meetings, initially to bring all the current diocesan leaders together on the same ground while looking at the Listening Event data, before we put the results into the diocesan Profile. But even before the meeting, systemic concerns plain to many of us loomed large, seeming to overshadow the possibilities ahead. So, with Bob and Michelle’s guidance, the groups took a few steps back, to see the whole with detachment and not just the parts of our diocesan system that we ourselves experience or represent with passion. Our goal was to understand and reflect on the way we do our work, and how our work benefits our ministry and mission. We used the same set of questions on the Listening Event data which are provided for parishes on the Resource page, to name, claim and find a responsive stance toward these issues. During this time, the search process timeline came into question. The questions raised and the concerns named are discussed in the report Bob and Michelle made to the diocese, and also in a statement from Dr. Sam Ward, President of Standing Committee, published above.
All who attended the two days of work together indicated on their evaluation forms that the experience was very good, helpful, encouraging and inspirational. One even said it was the best diocesan event he had ever taken part in. Good congregational development can have that effect.
We encourage you take time to follow the links provided by the Congregational Development team to give yourselves as full an understanding of this joint leadership meeting as possible.
The preparation that Bob and Michelle asked of us before our joint leadership meetings can be found here: http://www.congregationaldevelopment.com/diocese-of-central-pennsylvani/
The consultants’ report on those meetings can be found at this link: http://www.congregationaldevelopment.com/cpa-follow-up/