New Clergy Transitions Plan Following the Retirement of the Rev. Lee Ann Tolzmann, Canon for Mission Leadership
The Episcopal Church in Connecticut’s (ECCT) Canon for Mission Leadership, the Rev. Lee Ann Tolzmann, will be retiring at the end of June 2021.
During her nearly six-year tenure, Lee Ann has revitalized the process of clergy recruitment and brought creativity and a new vision to the nature of parish clergy leadership transitions.
The decreasing number of parishes who can afford full-time clergy, the increasing pace of clergy retirements, and the increasing challenge of clergy mobility have resulted in fewer wide-ranging searches and much smaller pools of applicants.
Decreasing resources, both volunteer and financial, have led to stress in parish systems, requiring more support once new clergy arrive.
All of these changes, their consequences, and ECCT’s responses are spelled out in Lee Ann’s vision paper Transition is the New Normal, available here.
As a result of these shifts and in light of Transition is the New Normal, ECCT will adopt a new plan for supporting clergy placements in parishes upon Lee Ann’s departure specifically:
- Ms. Amber Page Gehr, who has served as Administrator for Transitions & Clergy Support the last five years, will be promoted to Diocesan Transition Minister. Amber will handle all technical aspects of clergy leadership transitions, supporting parish vestries from the time a priest departs until the new one arrives. She will also interface with the wider Episcopal Church in all transition matters and with candidates for parish clergy leadership positions.
- The Rev. Marcus Halley, Dean of Formation, will work with Recently Ordained Clergy, including Missional Curates.
- Robin Hammeal Urban, Canon for Mission Integrity and Training, will become the canon liaison to the Commission on Ministry.
- The Rev. Tim Hodapp, Canon for Mission Collaboration, will convene and facilitate the meetings of Priest in Charge peer groups.
- The Rt. Rev. Ian T Douglas and The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens will be available to support clergy in transition and those facing challenges in their congregations, and will also convene a new group to support rectors.
Reflecting on Lee Ann’s tenure, The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan, said:
“I thank God for Lee Ann’s faithfulness, collegiality, and dedication to God’s mission over the last six years. During her time as Canon for Mission Leadership she has helped over 120 parishes to secure new clergy leadership, and in so doing she has transformed the Episcopal Church in Connecticut helping us to move forward in this New Missional Age in constructive and life-giving ways. Lee Ann’s honesty – always speaking the truth - unassuming manner, and Jesus-centered ways will be sorely missed. We pray that she will be richly blessed in her retirement. Well done good and faithful servant.”