What would make people say “yes” to an ECCT commitment that has taken one and a half years of intensive work that often felt like a full-time job? I believe that folks, with the help of God, were encouraged to offer their gifts for the Bishop Transition Committee (BTC) in many and varied ways. People who noticed their gifts said, “why not give this a try?” or “I think you’d be perfect for this committee” or “you have just the right gifts for this work” or “we really need you to represent our Region” or “please think about putting your name in”, etc. God’s nudge might have been heard internally and externally, as discernment so often arises.
I was asked by a dear one to consider submitting my name, and I had to pray about it. Even though I am retired clergy, I was in the midst of some long-term supply and I understood what the time commitment meant. My “yes” led me to a journey with an amazing group of people that became like family. Our first BTC meeting was on May 6, 2021, and so began our work as a group of 24 ECCT members (1 lay person and 1 clergy person from each of our 6 Regions; and 12 members selected by the Mission Council from a pool of 24 lay or clergy persons nominated by the Standing Committee, giving priority to members of Diocesan Ministry Networks). Along the way several had to step away due to geographical moves or job demands or job changes or other circumstances. Eighteen of us remained to engage the bishop transition process with extraordinary counsel from our Episcopal Consultant Blanca Silvestrini and deep spiritual care from our Bethany House Chaplains Julia Slayton, the Rev. Ginger Solaqua, the Rev. Bill Rich, and the Rev. Maureen Kemeza.
Some of us knew each other, some knew no one. We learned together how to be community and how to work with the richness of leadership gifts available. When a need arose, hands went up to meet the need. This team of folks moved mountains at times—always being open to the Spirit’s presence. As Clergy Co-Chair, I had the great joy of partnering with Lay Co-Chair Marsha Adell, and together we had the privilege of being support where needed and leading this band of leaders. I learned about myself and how to be better. Prayer partners were formed, and deep relationships were built. Most work was done via Zoom with the exception of our first in-person planning retreat in October 2021 and the Discernment Retreat with Candidates in March 2022. Somehow, we became a small beloved community with a mission, grounded in God’s love and in faith and in openness. We learned to listen with the ear of the heart to wider ECCT members who shared their dreams with us, to the Candidates who offered themselves in discernment with us, and to each other.
I give thanks for each and every one who gave themselves so generously to this work—Marsha Adell, Suzy Burke, Scott Colvin, the Rev. Canon Harlon Dalton, Laura Daly, the Rev. Dr. Luk de Volder, Kevin Fenner, Bob Giolitto, the Rev. Jack Gilpin, the Rev. Jane Hale, Karen Hatcher-Sneed, Zachary Kohl, the Rev. Helena Martin, the Rev. Deacon Bonnie Matthews, the Rev. Marissa Stuart Rohrbach, Harold Schmitz, and Sarah Woodford. It was a privilege and an honor to be among this BTC team. Without the help of Camp Washington’s staff, the Cathedral staff, ECCT staff and many others, we could not have pulled off all that was required for saying farewell to Bishop Ian and for celebrating the consecration of Bishop Jeff. Walking this journey was a treasure, and I’m glad I said “yes”. I’m especially glad that Bishop Jeff said “yes” to be our Bishop. What great joy surrounds us now and as we look to all that is to come! I invite you to be open to God’s nudge, however it arrives.