Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, as a way of life

Diocesan Update

January 22, 2012

As we continue in the season of light, remember to pursue joy in Christ, as a way of life.  I would like to keep you informed of some happenings and transitions in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester.  The staff has been engaged in a variety of activities and I have highlighted some of them below.

Diocesan Council was happy to receive the news that we expect to finish 2011with a budget surplus in excess of $60,000.  We see this as a sign of health and appreciate the diligent stewardship all around that made this possible.  Diocesan Council now has a budget committee that will create the best structure for our 2013 budget in synchronicity with the current vision and mission of the Diocese.  Please uphold Diocesan Council in your prayers as they gather for a workday on February 11, 2012 to clarify goals and more for this year.  Responsible Investment Committee, a subcommittee of the Trustees includes liaison members of Trustees, Council, Standing Committee, and a few members at large to help reduce silos and encourage greater connectivity between the ministries of these standing committees of the Diocese.  

The mission subgroup of Council has begun the process of awarding mission grants every six months rather than once a year.  The first round of mission grants has taken place.  Fifteen congregations in our Diocese received $39,000 in mission grants for 2012.  Grants are now being accepted for the second cycle and are due by March 31st.  The funds will be awarded in June.

In order to reduce costs and align with the new contract negotiated by Episcopal Payroll Services (EPS), we’ve changed our payroll service provider from Paychex to ADP.  This has taken time and effort to ensure that the appropriate data is transferred and we are just finishing up this transition.  In addition, the Diocese has transitioned the custodian for most of our investment accounts from the Bank of America to Genesee Valley Trust (GVT) and our bank accounts from Bank of America to Canandaigua National Bank (CNB) in order to streamline our administration and improve our reporting to Parishes.  Our Parishes will begin to see the benefits of this improved reporting by April 2012.

The Retiree Health Benefits Task Force (RHBTF) met in November and December to develop a timeline/project plan and plan an initial forum for retired clergy that took place on Dec. 13th at Epiphany, Gates.  In addition, the Church Medical Trust has just completed an audit of our 2010 claims history that the Task Force will begin analyzing to better understand how we are utilizing our current medical coverage.  These findings will be shared at the next forum later next month.

We continue to look at our staffing resources in order to better support our congregations.  You recently received a letter outlining our communication strategy and Eileen’s new role as Coordinator for Community Development.  We will continue to work at aligning our resources with the vision and mission of the Diocese.

Many of our congregations are in transition.  I am pleased to announce that Episcopal SeniorLife Communities has completed a search for their new chaplain and has called The Rev. Ken Pepin from Ohio.  He will begin his new role in February.  We are grateful to The Rev. Dennis Wienke for his invaluable role as interim during the search period.  Christ Church Corning has called The Rev. Charlie Tyo as their Rector.  He will provide the needed stability and help Christ Church create a strategic plan to ensure a presence of vitality in Corning.  After careful consideration, Grace Church, Scottsville and St. Andrew’s, Caledonia have together received strategic assistance from Diocesan Council to help provide support for a full time Priest.  They have called the Rev. Chris Streeter (Associate at Christ Church Pittsford) to be their priest.  We are most grateful for the ministry of the Rev. Jeff Haines in these two churches  and we give thanks for those who have been called to serve as clerical leaders in our Diocese.

There are other churches that are in various stages of the call process.  St. Luke’s, Branchport; St. James’, Hammondsport; and St. Peter’s, Dansville along with Trinity, Canaseraga are receiving names.  Christ Church, Pittsford; St. Peter’s Henrietta; Zion, Avon, and North East Partners in Episcopal Ministry are working on their profiles and will begin their searches soon.  St. Georges, Hilton has completed their strategic plan and their profile and will begin working with Council on their next steps.  Please keep all these congregations in your prayers as they discern and call their new ordained leaders.

On January 20th, The Rev. J. Eric Thompson was installed as Rector of St. Michael’s, Geneseo.  We look forward to installing The Rev. Mary Ann Brody as Rector of St. Stephen’s, The Rev. Dr. Cindy Rasmussen as Rector of St. Mark’s and St. John’s and The Rev. Charlie Tyo as Rector of Christ Church, Corning.  The Rev. Cole Gruberth will be installed as Dean of the Southwest District in the near future.  We give hearty thanks for the ministry of The Rev. Canon Peter Peters, who served as the Interim Dean of the South West District for a good part of 2011.

I will be serving as Chaplain and facilitator to the District Youth Missioners to help them create a work plan that they will execute in collaboration with the District Deans.  We give thanks for the ministry of Christa Levesque, who has handed the baton to Pablo Falbru, the new Youth Missioner for North East District.  Please uphold all the District Youth Missioners in your prayers as we meet for a strategy workday on February 18.

Commission on Ministry has now been expanded and all three subcommittees have been populated.  We now have a subcommittee for those discerning a call to the priesthood, a subcommittee for those discerning a call to the diaconate and a sub committee focused on ministry of the laity outside the church.  I am thankful to those who have said yes to the call to serve on this expanded commission.

We also commend the following to your prayers:
The family of our Archivist David Sisson as they grieve his loss.  
The Rev. Sid Symington, as he moves on from a model at St. Peter’s, Henrietta that was unsuccessful, and is receiving intentional mentoring since his departure.
There are several people with health challenges that we are aware of: The Rev. George Exley-Steigler, Mr. John Rutkowski, Partner of The Rev. John Andrews,
Mrs. Marie Zogg, mother of The Rev. Jennifer Zogg, Croker Curtis, Spouse of The Rev. Sandra Curtis, The Rev. George Anderson, and Cathy Shoemaker’s sister.
We give thanks that Mr. Gary Omphroy’s cancer is in remission.
We also lift up all other intercessions and thanksgivings to God.

There is much that we can pray for and much more to celebrate as we continue our ministry together pursuing joy in Christ, as a way of life.