I am constantly amazed at the privilege of being called to be your Bishop. Since this is a period of transition for you and me, I am trying to be intentional in getting communication to you as often as possible. Here is a Q & A format that addresses a few issues before us and I thank my staff for helping me pull this communication together.
Question: Bishop, You were at Lambeth this summer: what was one of the most important outcomes from your experience?
Answer: There were many outcomes, but certainly significant was the fact that bishops and spouses from 130 nations met, talked, prayed together and committed to stay together as we serve God’s Church in God’s World. I don’t think I will ever forget the march down the streets of London to Lambeth Palace in support of the United Nations Millennium Goals. This was a powerful albeit symbolic witness to the world that the Anglican Communion is able to work together to do our part to alleviate world-wide poverty. Thank you for your prayers and responses to my blog, which is still available in our diocesan website. If you wish to read documents out of Lambeth, please go to http://www.lambethconference.org/reflections/document.cfm
Question: Now that you have been in the Diocese for a while, what have you experienced in these first days and months?
Answer. As you can imagine, making this transition for me and for my family is both humbling and rewarding. I am grateful for the call to be the Ordinary of the Episcopal Church in Rochester, New York. My family is settling in: Roja has done a magnificent job in transforming our new Fairport home into a warm and lovely place to raise our family. Ned (16) has begun school and, although sorry to leave many friends behind, is finding new ones, daily. Eklan (7) is in second grade and excited to be in a new school. Our personal adjustments are happening as is my settling into the new role as your Bishop. Having served as a parish priest for many years, I am excited by the opportunity to focus our energy and excitement on the possibilities of encountering God’s new future in our parishes. I am grateful for our team of people both at Diocesan House and in leadership throughout the Diocese that are my partners as we move into 2009 and beyond. I am counting on all of you to help transform us into a joyful diocese growing in vigor and vitality.
Question: Speaking of the Diocese, we have heard of some changes. Can you tell us about them?
Answer: As you know, prior to the electing convention, Canon Lane was elected by the Diocese of Maine as their next Bishop and Canon Lumbard retired. I am aware of the need to have a team working with me, even in the first days of this Episcopate. The Rev. Albert Keeney and The Rev. Denise Yarbrough will join me as Canons, and Canon Karen Hanson will continue as we begin our work together. They will be installed as Canons, along with the five Deans of Districts, on October 4 at 10:30 a.m. at Christ Church, Rochester. I have also asked four of the existing Deans: the Very Rev. Nancy Stevens, the Very Rev. Fred Reynolds, the Very Rev. Mark Lattime and the Very Rev. Jim Adams to continue in their positions through 2009. We will also give thanks for the retiring Dean of the Southeast District, The Very Rev. Jorge Gutierrez, as we commission the Rev. J. Brad Benson as the new Dean of the Southeast District for 2009. This will give us the opportunity to collaboratively review over the next several months what directions we may want to take in the future. I am grateful for the help that the three Canons and five Deans are able to give in these early months. I encourage everyone to join us on October 4 to celebrate and pray for this team of leaders as we commit ourselves to this new odyssey. Other changes that have occurred are the relocation of the Rev. Denise Yarbrough and Donna Jordan’s offices from the Inn on Broadway to the Diocesan House. We are delighted that we are under the same roof again to continue the work before us. Our new initiative with General Theological Seminary and CRCDS is under way and beginning to get some traction with three new students. Marge Vincent retired this past July and Kristy Estey began in the middle of July as Executive Assistant to Canon Hanson. The rest of the staff continues in their current roles in support of the ministry we share together. We give thanks to this smooth transition over the summer months.
Question: The Youth Missioner position was filled on a part time basis over a year ago. During this time, the Missioner continued to assist the Diocese with programs such as EYE, Creation Camp, Acolyte Festival, Convention, and Nightwatch. Since the position ended August 31, 2008, what is the current plan?
Answer: I am strongly committed to creating an environment in which young people and young adults will find a place in our church. I am also committed to spending some time discerning the best role of the Diocesan Missioner in this endeavor. We have maintained the budget line for youth and young adult programs and I plan to reach out to Diocesan and parish leaders and young people to determine the best way to engage youth at all levels. We will continue to provide support for young people to go to EYE, camp experiences, and other opportunities that come before us. We are grateful to Jan Farnsworth for her leadership as Interim Youth Missioner. Allow me to affirm my hands-on experience in youth ministry and my understanding of the dynamics essential for congregational youth engagement. I seek a fresh start with youth ministry in our diocese to bring fresh insights and invite new leaders to help us birth and enrich youth ministry in our congregations. Before getting to the tactical decision of calling a Youth Missioner, I would like to create a Youth Ministry Development Group to create the necessary traction for meaningful congregational youth ministry. Developing vital congregational youth ministry is crucial to long term congregational vitality and growth. My desire to build vibrant youth ministries in congregations that have the potential is based on a belief that our young people are not merely the future of the Church, they are also the present!
Question: How do you plan to get input and buy-in from parish leaders on youth and congregational ministry in the Diocese?
Answer: I am thankful for this question because it is at the heart of my prayerful discernment at the beginning of my episcopacy. With the Diocesan Council, we will hold meetings in five locations around the Diocese during which times parishes will be invited to meet with us to discern what they feel is needed in this Diocese to make proactive and vibrant ministry possible and to strengthen it where it exists. We understand that good leaders and parishes require relevant resources that work. We are planning to use the existing Diocesan Council meeting dates during the months of December through April on which to hold these meetings and to work with parish leaders in scheduling them. Everyone will be invited to participate, especially young people. We will take the results of this encounter back to a work day with Diocesan Council to prioritize and develop an action plan. I prayerfully seek this process to help prioritize our common aspirations to become a vibrant and growing diocese.
I commend to you some forthcoming events:
9/25/08 – Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation www.e4g.org – MDG’s – Pray. Fast. Witness. March through NYC from the United Nations to St. John the Divine
9/26/08 -6 – 9 PM – Reception at the Singh’s home (4 Cathedral Oaks, Fairport, NY 14450) to meet/greet Paul and Annie Divakar. Paul and Annie are Dalit Civil Rights advocates. For more information about them please go to www.ncdhr.org and/or www.idsn.org. Please RSVP to Roja Singh, firstname.lastname@example.org by September 24, 2008.
9/29/08 -7 PM – Christ Church, 36 S. Main Street, Pittsford 14534 – Bishop Prince and Dr. Roja Singh to speak on their experiences at the Lambeth Conference.
10/4/08 -10:30 AM – Christ Church, 141 East Avenue, Rochester 14604 – Installation of the Canons, Commissioning of the District Deans, and dedication of the King David Statue in Memory of the Rev. Thomas L. Hanson, Ph.D.
10/24-25/08 Diocesan Convention, Hyatt Regency Hotel, 125 East Main Street, Rochester, 14604 I am grateful for your prayers for my family and me especially during this time of transition as your new Bishop.
Your servant in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh
Eighth Bishop Episcopal Diocese of Rochester