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

Diocesan Dean Reports for Convention 89

Diocesan Dean for Liturgy and Formation, Annual Report Fr. Billy Daniel

The role of the Diocesan Dean for Liturgy and Formation is to nurture leadership and facilitate growth in the areas of liturgical practice and spiritual formation, with particular attention to Diocesan-wide liturgies and formation for children, youth and young adults.

A number of initiatives were instigated this past year with regard to formation. After exploratory conversations with districts and district deans, it became clear that finding ways for leaders to collaborate and receive training is a central need. Inter- congregational partnerships in mission, especially with youth, was highlighted. And, some concerted effort to offer a habit of youth gatherings that allowed local, especially smaller, churches to offer young people as an opportunity for spiritual enrichment was welcomed.

To this end, we worked to establish a semi-annual habit of gathering as a larger group of youth across the diocese, building on ROC the Diocese in the Spring, with a new “Bash with the Bish” in the Fall. We also scheduled a two-part leadership training, in collaboration with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, for youth and children’s ministry leaders in August and September. While COVID kept these offerings from happening when scheduled, the leg work was done and we look forward to unfolding these as able, once we are confident that we can gather together in person again for larger events.

Nevertheless, numerous opportunities were brought to fruition and have deeply impacted our Diocese as a whole, with new momentum regarding our attention to addressing injustices relative to race, gender and class. In my role as Dean for Liturgy and Formation, I worked to create or partner on the following events engagements for the diocesan community:

Liturgy Planning during COVID
o Resources for best practices
o Technology liaison for local congregations developing livestream offerings

COVID Task Force
o Liturgy Subcommittee Participant

Diocesan Youth Engagement
o Facilitated conversation with youth graduates to offer a way for our young

people to engage the diocesan community

Lead or facilitated various Diocesan Check-ins

Become Eucharist resource study

o How to celebrate Eucharist during COVID

o How to talk about the purpose of Eucharist in the Christian life and Faith

Liturgy of Lament

o A liturgy supplement for congregations to pray together and name the injustices of the world, toward healing and conciliation

“Unsettling Truths” Author Engagement
o Organized and help coordinate diocesan engagement with authors Soong-

Chan Rah and Mark Charles on the Doctrine of Discovery webinar, in

collaboration with the RRHJ Task Force

Continually exploring and engaging best practices relative to liturgy and spiritual

formation for churches in the Diocese of Rochester


Diocesan Dean for Transitions Ministry The Very Rev. Virginia Tyler Smith, Dean Committee Members: N/A

Report: Transitions Ministry was very active in the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first three quarters of 2020. At year end 2019, we had five (5) open searches. New in the role this year, I took opportunities to attend two Transition Ministry Conferences to network with my colleagues from other dioceses, present open parishes, and to learn about the transitions process. At the end of third quarter 2020, we have two (2) open searches and one parish entering into discernment.

Through a thorough vetting process, we presented a total of 17 candidates for open positions during the past year. This was a remarkable achievement, given the degree to which the COVID pandemic curtailed candidates’ searches and the constraints put on in-person visitation.

We placed the following clergy during this time period:

The Rev’d. Donald Schranz, Priest in Charge at St. John’s Clifton Springs
The Rev’d. Joshua Barrett, Priest in Charge at Church of the Redeemer, Addison, and Associate at Christ Church, Corning.
The Rev’d. Mitch Bojarski, Rector at Church of the Incarnation, Penfield
The Rev’d. Keisha Stokes, Pastoral Leader at Zion Church, Palmyra, and Associate at St. John’s, Canandaigua.

During this period, I also worked with the following parishes on their search activities: St. Peter’s Church, Henrietta
Church of the Good Shepherd, Savona

I consulted with the following parishes for mutual ministry reviews (MMR), contract reviews, and/or planning:
Zion Church, Avon (MMR)

St. Thomas’, Bath (MMR and Priest in Charge contract) St. Luke’s, Brockport (MMR)
St. George’s, Hilton (planning)
St. Michael’s Church, Sodus (contract)

I also provided technical support to the following parishes for their Associate Priest searches:
Christ Church, Pittsford
St. Thomas’, Rochester

Other Activities

Coached seminary graduates on the search process, profile development, interviewing techniques, and job readiness.

Created a streamlined workflow for parishes embarking on the search process, including estimated time frames and necessary approvals for each step.

Worked with mutual ministry review consultant to design a three-part MMR process that was piloted in three parishes.

Participated in regional discussions for best practices in transitions ministry during the pandemic.

Participated in numerous discussions at the national level for identifying, recruiting and supporting clergy of color.

Acted as a liaison for open parishes with the Congregational Development Grants Committee.

Many thanks to Bishop Singh for his continuing support, guidance, and vision in the transitions process. With God’s help we will continue to identify, recruit and retain the best possible clergy for the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester.


Diocesan Dean for Discernment Report for Convention 2020 Rev. Debs Duguid-May

As this was a new role, I began by updating the administrative records on all our candidates. Carolyn Mc Connell worked tirelessly with me in creating a good administrative record of each of the areas of responsibility, which are now documented and updated. I also helped with the revision and editing updates for our Vocational Handbook.

I have set up 6 parish-based discernment teams this year to begin the process of discernment of candidates for holy orders.

I have worked with Revd. Andrea Stridiron on the support and ongoing education of our deacons and those in process of discernment for the diaconate.

I have recruited over 50 clergy and lay leaders for the coaching ministry for our Circles of Support. These volunteers are currently undergoing training with The Revd. Dr Roy Whitten on coaching. I have set up 7 Circles of Support for our new clergy to assist and be a resource for them as they adapt to ministry here in Rochester.

I have started the Fellowship of Discernment, which is for all our postulants until their final ordination, to support, mentor, educate and pray for each other on a monthly basis. I continue to meet with the Commission on Ministry, including meeting with the co-chairs thereof, and Bishop. I also meet regularly with Diocesan Leadership, my fellow Deans and the Diocesan Staff.

We are currently planning a day training workshop for all those on the Commission on Ministry.

Respectfully Submitted Dean Debs Duguid-May 13 October, 2020.


Diocesan Dean for Churches in Small Towns & Rural Communities and Pastoral Care
Rev. Canon Johnnie Ross

“Let the favor of the LORD our God rest upon us; establish the works of our hands. Yes, establish the works of our hands.” PS 90:17

It has now been a year since beginning this work, with a title change approximately nine months into it. Not only have I enjoyed being back in a parish, in this case two parishes, but I have immensely enjoyed my role as dean - working to support, equip, and inspire the saints in a small church context, in the practice of ministry.

We have long known both the struggles and joys of the small church, and I see the role of diocesan dean as someone to be there to assist with the struggles, offering the resources and encouragement needed along the way. To better assist churches in small towns and rural communities with the “every day” struggles of ministry, we have developed a list of resources and have published them on the diocesan website. These resources range from where the small church can obtain new prayer books, bibles and hymnals at no cost, to capital campaigns and obtaining the funds necessary to establish a children’s library. If you are interested, or have not seen them, please visit https://www.episcopalrochester.org/sites/default/files/files/2020%20Reso... 0Small%20Church%20.docx.pdf

While COVID has indeed impacted the way we have made ourselves available to respond and work with many of our churches, we have been able to address many of the most pressing needs when it comes to Episcopal ministry in small towns and rural communities in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier Regions of our state. In a more hands-on approach of offering support in the form of presence, we have made ourselves available as the clergy on-call for emergencies while the rector is on leave, been present to facilitate a way through and into a successful transition, and charting the processes necessary for short-term and long-range planning, to mention a few. At present, we find ourselves actively working with the Reverend Canon Dr. C. Denise Yarbrough and the members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Bloomfield, NY as they plot the course for ministry in their context, considering both the needs of their community and what they believe to be God’s hopes and dreams for them and us.
In the area of pastoral development, we have discovered in a more intimate way, the gifts and talents of the retired clergy pool in this diocese. On September 17th, we gathered for Zoom Noon Day Prayers and a discussion over remote meals/snacks as we shared our thoughts on the blessings and curses of this COVID-TIDE. In doing so, one thing became clear above all others, and that is our belief that we are sustained by the work and prayers of those who have already given so much. May this be all the truer as we move both through and past COVID-TIDE into a more “normal” future.

So, the take-away? From Hilton to Wellsville, and Brockport to Newark, it is the churches in small towns and rural communities that make up the majority of the churches in our diocese. It is also true that, because of their labors, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is alive in the most remote portions of New York. Just as important, if not more so, is that these churches often offer the only progressive, socially accepting, and openly affirming voice in their area and it is my honor, privilege, and pleasure to serve as their first diocesan dean. Yet my work in this area would not be possible without the support and understanding of the people I serve with and care for the most - those who live and worship in Caledonia, (St. Andrew’s) and Scottsville, (Grace Episcopal) so want to thank you as well, from the very bottom of an extremely grateful heart.

The Reverend Canon Johnnie E. Ross, Rector & Dean