Reshaping our Diocese to Increase Connections

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by Rosemary Hagan, D. Min., North Region Chair

If you are new to being an Episcopalian it might come as a surprise that our parish, Grace Church, does not “stand alone”. We are a member parish in a larger geographical region called a Diocese. We are also part of the greater Episcopal Church in this country, and beyond that we are members of the world-wide Anglican Communion. But let’s move back closer to home to our own Diocese, the Diocese of Western Michigan. The Cathedral for our Diocese, or in a different parlance, the corporate office, is seated in Kalamazoo. This is where our Bishop and the diocesan staff have their offices. Having an organization’s corporate office located far from a satellite office can lead to a sense of isolation or disconnect, at both ends of the geographical stretch. Being a church in the north or any church miles away from where the Bishop and diocesan staff is located can lead to much of the same feelings of isolation and disconnect, even if the Bishop regularly visits each area.

For the last few years the diocese has undertaken deep listening sessions with each region as a means of looking at this sense of disconnect and to understand gaps in needed support to parishes. After extensive discussion and much planning and fiscal decision making at the diocesan level, our Diocese brought a resolution to its annual convention last fall to reconfigure the diocese from five deaneries into three regions, the North, Central, and South. Along with this decision, we committed to hire and place a Canon Missioner in each region. The Canon Missioner will act as advocate, consultant, and support to each parish, as well as providing localized deployment officer skills to parishes in their region that are seeking a new rector.

We are now a part of the North Region, and we recently learned that our newly hired Canon Missioner for the North is The Reverend C. Anne Hallmark. Anne and her husband Steve will be moving to Michigan from Virginia and will reside in Traverse City. They were recently in the area to plan for their move, and after the visit Anne commented, “how kind and supportive everyone has been, and I have fallen in love with the geography of the region”.

Reverend Hallmark will begin her new position June 1. Her work will take her all over the north in support of our region’s parishes and chapels, from as remote as Beaver Island and as far south as Ludington. If you are curious about the Canon Missioner job description:  http://www.edwm.org/canon_missioner_job_description.pdf

If you would like to receive diocesan email updates visit the diocesan website and click on the tab for e-updates found on the home page. http://www.edwm.org

Parish delegates to the annual convention and clergy from the region gather a few times a year to worship together and share information. All parishioners are invited to attend any regional meeting. Our next meeting will be held June 9th, at Grace Church from 10:00 am until noon.  Reverend Hallmark will be in attendance and you can join us as we wish her a warm welcome.

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