Bishop's Address / Convention 88
Bishop's Address - Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh
Greetings, beloved ones! Thank you for the outpouring of love along with your undergirding prayer for my mother. The tangible encouragement from our staff, our Standing Committee Officers, Deans, Bishop Steve Lane, and Chancellor for my quick trip to India and back during one the busiest times in our diocesan life was clearly moving to our family. Roja and I are grateful for your loving-kindness. It demonstrates, yet again, how a beloved community practices the way of love in real-time. We prayed a lot, sang some, laughed and cried some. My mother is an amazing woman of faith. She was the first person I looked up to, as a child, with values I was inspired to pursue. She has a good and caring team of family, friends, and professionals around her as she engages the pernicious disease of cancer at almost 81 years. She continues to be frail, but comfortable, and her faith is strong. We cling to the Lord for strength and connection together. Heartfelt prayers for Bishop DeDe, as she tends to her ailing mother Pat. Grateful for the clear and relevant encouragement from her emissary, Canon Carrie Schofield-Broadbent, whose sermon was right on!
Joyce, we are grateful for your community's hospitality hosting us at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. If I can do a shameless plug here, I am sure our Delegates will encourage young adults in your circles of influence to consider coming to study here!
For my address this year, I will highlight a few relational aspects of leadership and stewardship in our Diocese. I will provide a more extensive state of the Diocese report for your prayer and study on our website. I will also invite you to two brief engagements of holy table conversations to ponder and identify a few preliminary actionable/aspirational insights and prayers. During these engagements, we will look through two marginal lenses that I think are important for our Beloved Community considerations as we strive to walk in love. They are relational lenses of reconciliation and formation. As I see it, we could use some strengthening in these areas.
I see our diocese forging ahead and making progress in many areas. I am grateful for faithful ministry that is discerned at the grassroots by faithful saints who respond in different ways to the question "what is the Jesus' way of love in this place at this time?"
Since our last convention, we have stewarded our resources of talent, time, and treasure, by continuing or starting fresh missional blessings! From prison ministry to food pantry ministries, to community gardens, to Jazz Vespers, to education/formation. Let me give you a sense of scale, 20 of these were local and through our parishes, 19 of them were local through our missional partners, and 9 of them were global through our funding for Sustainable Development Goals and the McKelvey Fund. These were visions funded through our collective Diocesan resources. In other words, this is not counting the many local initiatives that were funded locally through our parishioners and missional partners, precisely the reason for us to move to a tithe in our apportionment to encourage more local discernment and investment in mission. Apart from these, we had the unique partnership of our Diocese with the Diocese of Costa Rica and the United Thank Offering to rebuild two schools in Costa Rica through Webster's Diaconal leader, Steve Robb. While we bid the Robb's farewell and Godspeed as they retire to Florida, Steve will continue to be Canonically Resident in our Diocese doing a global medical mission on our behalf. With all these missional expressions of leadership, I am happy to say that our missional leadership footprint is healthy locally and making steady progress globally.
Speaking of global, I plan to attend Lambeth and be at the table next year. Roja has decided not to attend Lambeth in solidarity with Beckie, Bishop Mary Glasspool's spouse.
Here is a list of parish and partnership mission grants from 2019. Kindly contact us if you would like more information on this.
Canandaigua St. John's Storybook Prison Ministry
Palmyra Zion Grace House
Avon Zion Martha's Kitchen
Henrietta St. Peter's Storybook Prison Ministry
Webster Good Shepherd LEGO LOVE
Rochester St. Marks & Johns EDEN: Farm Stand
Bath St. Thomas Community Garden
Wellsville St. John's Bus Stop Shelter
Rochester St. Paul's Adopt a Classroom
Clifton Springs St. John's Party In A Bag
Clifton Springs St. John's Coat Give-Away
Sodus St. John's Inclusive Sundays: Hearing Impaired
Hornell Christ Church SaturJam Mass
Dansville St. Peter's HOPE Luncheon
Geneva St. Peter's Neighbors Night
Bloomfield St. Peter's / Peter's Place
Rochester Mark's & John's Kids Club
Geneva Trinity / Trinity Academic Achievement
Rochester St. Luke & St. Simon Jazz Vespers
Savona Good Shepherd / Shepherds Cupboard Food Pantry
Catholic Charities of Steuben
Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network(RAIHN)
Cameron Community Ministries Inc
SewGreen Rochester, Inc.
RESOLVE of Greater Rochester
Genesee Area Campus Ministries U of R
Rural & Migrant Ministry, Inc.
Greater Rochester Faith in Action Network (GRCC)
ARC KidStart Children's Services Dansville
Episcopal SeniorLife Communities
Summer LEAP (GRSLA)
Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry
Destination Hope and Friendship Club
Literacy Volunteers Yates/Ontario
Sustainable Development Fund
Watkins Glen, St. Jame's Caribbean Medical Mission
Rochester, St. Paul's Center for Mother's Empower Program
Rochester, Ascension Puresa Humanitarian
Rochester, Ascension House of Hearts
Greece, Trinity Holy Cross School
Fairport, St. Luke's Education of Dalit Girls in India
Henrietta, Diocese Mission Projects, Eastern Himalayas
Our leadership is impacted by those we call to lead among and with us as our congregational spiritual leaders or Priests. The discerners of these calls are primarily lay leaders. With the help of my office, we try and find the best priest or pastoral leader for every particular context. We have called or sent the following clergy and Pastoral leaders since the last Convention to new cures.
We sent five of our parish clergy to new leadership roles in other Dioceses—Christa, Moore-Levesque, Andrew VanBuren, Chris Streeter, Catherine Tatem & Josh Walters. We are grateful that many of our clergy leaders are sought after in and by other dioceses! Praise God that we can bless the larger church in this important way. I am equally grateful that many of our clergy have chosen to make our Diocese their place of service.
We have called the following Priests or Pastoral Leaders to their new cures a little before or since the last Convention. Please stand when I call your name and kindly remain standing until I have named all of you. We'll try and hold our applause until I have named all fourteen of them. We called:
1. Richard Witt, as Priest in Charge of Grace! Lyons. (July 18, 2018; amended 2/1/19 to extend the 12-month period to December 31, 2019.)
2. Michael Laver, as Rector of St. John's, Sodus (September 7, 2019)
3. Gretchen Ratterree, as Rector of St. Mark's, Newark (September 14, 2019)
4. Ken Pepin, as Rector of St. Luke's, Fairport (October 9, 2019)
5. Ginny Mazzarella, as Rector of Zion, Avon (October 16, 2019)
6. Nita Byrd, as Chaplain, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva. (October 26, 2019)
7. Johnnie Ross, as Rector of Grace, Scottsville & Priest in Charge of St. Andrew's Caledonia. (Installation date TBD)
8. Padraic Collins-Bohrer has accepted the call to be Chaplain at Heritage Christian Service as of September 9, 2019
9. Ron Young, as Priest-in-Charge of Christ Church in Pittsford as of September 1, 2019
10. Melanie Duguid-May was Ordained a Transitional Deacon in February and Priest on October 4, 2019, at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in Bath. She now serves as Priest in Charge there.
11. Elizabeth Harden comes to us from the Diocese Utah. She was Ordained a Deacon there in the spring. She will be Ordained a Priest on November 2, at 11 AM at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Brockport. Rt. Rev. Scott Hayashi, Diocesan of Utah will be the Ordaining Bishop. She serves as Pastoral leader at St. Luke's in Brockport.
12. Sue Ouellette serves as Deacon out of St. Paul's in Rochester with a vision for creating lay-pastoral training for our Diocese.
13. Craig Uffman serves as the Priest in Charge of St. Stephen's in Rochester where he began on May 20, 2019
14. Greg Kremer serves as the Pastoral Leader at St. George's in Hilton where he started on August 1, 2019
Please uphold Abi John and his family in your continued prayers as they prepare to return to our Diocese next month. We are grateful for the greatest endowment we have! Good lay and clergy leaders! Thank you, Priests and Pastoral Leaders, for your deep desire to empower and equip our laity who prayerfully called you as spiritual leaders and coaches to their particular context. Let us show them some love.
I want to give a shout-out to the Circles of Support that surround these and other pastoral leaders and priests in new cures. Circles are aspirational coaching communities with a clear agenda to be sounding boards and coaching cohorts for leaders in new cures. They are driven by the pastoral leader or priest involved and they each have one or two clergy and a few lay leaders. They are Covenanted and usually meet for 18 months.
We are grateful for those with gifts to coach/facilitate these Circles of Support, and Mutual Ministry Reviews in parishes. While it is written into every Letter of Agreement that Mutual Ministry Reviews are engaged, it is not always practiced since clergy get busy doing the work of ministry. I need your help as lay leaders along with your clergy to streamline this and make it a wholesome and healthy practice at least once in two years. I will be calling a Consultant soon after this Convention to help with the training and research around Circles of Support and Mutual ministry reviews. Dean Debs Duguid May will take point for Circles, and Dean Virginia Tyler-Smith will take point for Mutual Ministry Reviews. They will communicate more on this.
I am grateful to have done my own Episcopal Mutual Ministry Review last December. This was possible, thanks to the leadership of Sarah Peters, as President of Standing Committee along with other lay and clergy leaders. We published a report out of that, and I will say it made for such a healthy exercise, especially because I was not the one pushing for it while welcoming and engaging it. Therefore, I ask you to encourage your vestry and Wardens to support your clergy to do a Mutual Ministry once in two years. Once in two years makes sense to me because it takes a degree of prep time for organizing it and collecting some feedback and data for it to be worthwhile. Let's make it a biannual spiritual/physical for the health of our congregations. We intend to do an Episcopal Mutual Ministry Review once in two years, as well.
I am grateful for your Leadership investment with me in the Bishop's appeal: helping bring support and focused attention:
-to our neighbors who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
-to the formation of Children, Youth and Young Adults (We will hear a report on these two focus areas at next Convention)
-to the College for Congregational Development (We will hear a report from Paul Frolick), and
-to seminarian scholarships (this is a vital investment).
Let me remind you that the Bishop's appeal is voluntary. While we move positively toward an apportionment tithe, we should also be able to grow these key priorities. We have made a good start, thanks to many of the faithful among us who have invested by praying for these leadership initiatives. Many have contributed generously as individuals and couples. For this first year, we wanted to make it a soft launch and hence made it part of my annual visitation. It is very low-key in that I sometimes speak to it during the announcement. We will evaluate this after a full year to see if we need to change this approach. Thank you for your generous support of this important investment to sustain leadership development in key areas that are close to my heart, and hopefully yours, too.
Continuing on our stewardship theme,
1. We updated our Employee Handbook and successfully rolled out Sexual Abuse Prevention Training in compliance with NYS.
2. I am also happy to inform you that 2019 is the first year we have contributed our "full asking" (now a commitment) to the D&FMS since 2002.
3. Eight parishes accelerated their pay-off/paydown of Congregational Development loans. Our Trustees forgave a proportion of these loans to help these congregations get out of their perpetual cloud of indebtedness.
4. Four Diocesan owned properties were transferred to new owners for redevelopment in service of their local communities, or improved efficiency:
• St. Andrew's By-the-Lake, transferred to Good Shepherd, Webster
• Belmont: Allegany County in an early voting site, community center and affordable housing
• Bolivar: in an Allegany Trails Site and Community Center
• Belvidere: in a Community Arts Center & Museum
5. St. Michael's and the Diocese transferred our ownership interest in a low income, senior housing development in Geneseo, to Episcopal SeniorLife Communities.
6. We completed the move to GAAP compliant accounting for fund assets "with or without donor restrictions".
7. We have progressively moved 19 of our congregations to a tithe apportionment in the 2020 budget.
Our relationship and partnerships are growing with Episcopal SeniorLife Communities, Rural and Migrant Ministries, ELCA/South Wedge Mission, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School Anglican Studies Program, and we now have a formal relationship with RIT/NTID for campus ministry/deaf ministry. We welcome Dr. Angela Sims, the new president of CRCDS and wish her well. Along with all these our Interfaith and Ecumenical ties especially through Rochester Interfaith Network Alive, Greater Rochester Community of Churches Faith in Action Network, Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network and REACH housing are strong and growing. I am proud of the work that the Racial Reconciliation Healing and Justice commission is doing. We had a great celebration of Absolom Jones, honoring the life and witness of the first African American Priest in the Episcopal Church, at Two Saints. They will lead us in a learning-community exercise this afternoon to invite us to go deeper in our authenticity as Beloved Community.
Our ministry among children, youth and young adults is slowly but surely growing through regular traditions such as: ROC the Diocese, Missionpalooza, and Campus Ministry: here in HWS, in SUNY Geneseo, U of R, we also incorporated our joint Episcopal/Lutheran campus ministry at RIT and hope to increase these. St. Mark's in Penn Yan decided not to continue with RISE Camp for several reasons. We give thanks for the many decades of blessing their ministry was to our young people and us.
I want to notice a few significant affirmations of leadership:
1. The Associated Church Press Video Series, and the Polly Bond Awards were given to us for video stories on Leadership. Thanks to Steve Richards for his quiet leadership!
2. St. John's in Canandaigua overcame some major hurdles to start their day-center for homeless families through Family Promise, persisting even when the odds seemed ominous. Holy persistence, as our preacher reminded us!
3. The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act is now the law in our state! We commend Richard Witt and all Farm Worker Allies who labored for decades to make this real.
4. Rick Hamlin and Tom Gramley have both spoken to me about retiring soon. Tom in Addison is attempting retirement for the 7th time, and Rick in Angelica and Cuba for the 2nd time. The small churches in their care are thriving!
5. I want to give a shout-out to Liz Salamone, Johanna Bond, and Paul Greene for accomplishing their work as the Task Force on Safe Church.
6. This year we have at least three leaders among us who published their books. They are Cam Miller, Roja Singh and Billy Daniel!
7. On the 45th anniversary of the Philadelphia 11, we recall our own Merrill Bittner, Western NY's Marie Moorefield Fleischer, and Central NY's Betty Bone Schiess, who endured much as the first leaders. We stand on their shoulders as we give thanks for clergy and laywomen leaders among us. Show some love to past and present women leaders, and more!
I am very grateful for serving with arguably the best diocesan staff on this side of Christendom. They are fun to serve with and have immense wisdom, which they share with me/us wholeheartedly. I am grateful for the termed leadership of District Deans and am eager to make this new integration of distributed leadership with Diocesan Deans work, making necessary changes along the way. It is also helpful to have a Deacon Coordinator, especially to coordinate annual reviews with renewals or new posting of Deacons! To be sure, these were staffing decisions* that I made after considerable consultation with several stakeholders. Please contact me directly or through my Executive Assistant, Carolyn McConnell if you have questions about this or any other concern, and especially if you have emergencies concerning clergy. Thanks for your prayerful support as we live into this.
MORE ON STAFFING CHANGES.pdf
Last but not the least, I am grateful for the prayerful support of Roja, my best friend and partner in this odyssey called the Episcopacy. She has been a rock when things were shaky. She has managed to do this while also teaching fulltime out of the Sociology department in St. John Fisher. Please join me in thanking Roja. We thank God for all women leaders among us, and she is one of them! The boys are well. Nivedh is in Nashville working for Notes for Notes, doing his sound recording engineering in a nonprofit with the Boys and Girls Club. Eklan is studying acting at SUNY Purchase. He has become quite chatty. Thank you for your trusting embrace of us over good, challenging and mundane times. We have come a long way, and, in the sentiment of Robert Frost, we have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep! God bless you as you walk in love as Christ loved us. We do this for the glory of God, and we can only do this together! Thank you!
Relationship fosters RECONCILIATION: Racial Reconciliation, Healing and Justice
Relationship fosters FORMATION/EDUCATION locally and globally
There are several education/formation initiatives fostered out of relationships throughout the Diocese. For instance, the Summer of Opportunity program in partnership with the city, and Kids Club through SMSJ, Neighbor’s night, and Arts for All through St. Peter’s in Geneva, the interfaith school mentoring program out of St. Paul’s Rochester, countless mentoring and afterschool programs, R-kids ministry in Geneseo, and the Dalit-girls education initiative out of St. Luke’s Fairport, just to name a few.
I invite you to watch two missional videos focusing on formation of children and youth among us since last convention: One is The summerLEAP program initiative by St. Thomas’ Rochester, and the other is a drive to promote and support the education of poor children in Costa Rica actuated by a major mission work trip! Each has champions who forged ahead, overcame hurdles and created/supported sustainable formation opportunities for children, youth and their families.
As you watch these videos,
- What help do you need to start a formation program for children and youth in your neighborhood?
- If you already do formation of children and youth, would you be willing to coach someone who needs some guidance? What do you need to equip others to get started?
We will close this engagement with a short video of Dalit-girls education ministry in the THAI (meaning mother) boarding home that Roja and I steward in south India. We were there this summer with Jenna Roscoe, who grew up in the youth group at St. Luke’s in Fairport, and Eklan. This is a short clip of Eklan leading the girls in a dance to a popular Tamil movie song. It’s an expression of sheer joy! Enjoy!
Received through Letters Dimissory:
June 03 2019 Rev. Nita Byrd, from the Diocese of North Carolina
Transferred by Letters Dimissory:
November 05 2018 Rev. Sara D’Angio White to the Diocese of Maine
May 29 2019 Rev. Christa Moore-Levesque to the Diocese of Rhode Island
August 29 2019 Rev. Joshua Walters to the Diocese of Virginia
September 01 2019 Rev. Catherine Tatem to the Diocese of Upper South Carolina
September 27 2019 Rev. Andrew VanBuren to the Diocese of Bethlehem
October 10 2019 Rev. Dr. Clarence Butler to the Diocese of Massachusetts
We produced the following Mission videos 1/2019 – 10/2019
Summer of Opportunity Program (SOOP) at St. Marks St. John’s
Hands of Hope Kitchen/Bloomfield
ROC Spirit Ventures / St Mark's St John's
Agape Dinner / St John's Clifton Springs
Ashes To Go / Two Saints
Harvest Kitchen / St. Luke's Brockport
Peter's Place / St. Peter's Bloomfield
Additional information on events since last Convention:
- Absalom Jones Celebration @ Two Saints, kicking off Black History Month
- Website video “Who We Are” posted 1/2019 - gives a glimpse of our Diocese that is Diocese that is curious and forward looking.
- Snowstorm / Social Media Sunday 1/27 - We saw the largest snowstorm for the winter season. It came on the weekend, and a number of our parishes had to cancel services and gatherings. In this age of technology, clergy and leadership utilized their websites, texts, social media and email to alert parishioners of cancellations and postponements. A few more utilized social media to offer resources and even “Facebook live” services to keep folks safe at home and out of the storm.
- St. Peter’s Geneva Art’s Academy Senior Youth Choir - 9-day trip to Europe, performing in cathedrals and small churches in England, Wales and Scotland. 2/14-2/23
- Parish Leader’s Meeting with CNB. Full house on a February Saturday!
- Communications transfers database to ACS Technologies
- Pancake races in at St. Paul’s Rochester in preparation for Shrove Tuesday and a Holy Lent
- 11th Annual Ecumenical Good Friday Cross Walk April 19thin Southwest Rochester
- Costa Rica schools - The Cen-cinai Bureau of the Costa Rican National Department of Health announced that they would not accept Rev. Steve Robb’s offer to build a school in Cartagena. When one door closes, another opens and Steve turned to the newly installed Episcopal Bishop of Costa Rica, The Rt. Rev. Orlando Gomez who said the Diocese of Costa Rica had two schools that fit the bill! Group trip to Costa Rica in June to do the work.
- RRHJ group forms
- 4/13 Lenten Renewal of Vows service includes the renewal of Baptismal vows for our Laity. This was open to clergy, and also all who are baptized in our Diocese.
- Communicators Conference in Denver – weeklong forums on best practices on all platforms
- Episcopal Diocese of Rochester receives 2 awards – The Associated Church Press Video Series/Leadership, and Polly Bond Awards video/Leadership. (Leadership video compilation included Savona Food Cupboard, Missionpalooza and REACH-Housing for the Homeless.)
- May 2019 ROC The Diocese @ Asbury Camp and Retreat Ctr
- Bishop’s Appeal launched early June
- Family Promise Day Center opens at St. John’s Canandaigua rectory June 5
- Episcopal Night at Frontier Field - with Episcopal Senior Life Communities / July
- Rochester and Corning PRIDE events.
- Summerleap Program - funded by St Thomas for city kids who are lagging behind in school / July.
- Summer Of Opportunity Program – (SOOP) at St. Marks/St Johns. City run program that pays kids during the summer months, in this case helping with St M/St J gardens. / August
- Missionpalooza / August
- Episcopal SeniorLife Communities
- Support of the Chaplaincy Program
- Events; Golf Fundraiser, Episcopal Night at Frontier Field
- nterfaith Partnerships
- Support in times of crisis
- U of R Interfaith Chapel
- GRCC Faith in Action
- REACH housing
- Grace Mission/Rural & Migrant Ministries
- Developing a comprehensive Hispanic/multilingual community ministry in NE district
- Supporting RRM with property use and financial support
- South Wedge Mission
- Partnership with the Lutheran Synod
- Financial support
- Experimenting with a new way of being "church"