from Bishop Brown
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Hello, beloved of God in Delaware.
I have exciting news to announce today regarding staffing changes at the mission support office, the office that supports the great mission across this diocese. The staffing changes are based on the five-year plan that I have just recently rolled out here for the diocese. The five-year plan, which I call Renew ECD — the Episcopal Church in Delaware — looks to set our mission priorities for the years 2023 through 2027. And there are four fundamental areas where we’re focusing our priorities.
Fundamentally, we want to commit time and resources to growing the church. We want to commit to the practices that sustain us in our life of faith, and we want to commit to caring for our neighbors and for ourselves. Fourthly, we want to remember to do this collectively as one church across Delaware. The key mission areas are growth, discipleship, and service, and the changes that I’m announcing today have everything to do with providing leadership in these key areas.
First, Toni Snow, who has been on staff here at the mission support office as the special projects manager, has now been named to be our director for service. And her role will be overseeing the part of our common life where we care for our neighbors as we care for ourselves. She will be working on our ecumenical partnerships, my partnerships throughout Delaware, our disaster response, and our community partnerships. She will be my link with the Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission and all of the outreach that we do as a diocese. She’ll also help us take care of ourselves as volunteers, and she will continue to help support our leadership networks.
Secondly, the Rev. Marianne Ell will serve as our director for discipleship, and she will be responsible for helping us deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ, because this is a lifelong journey of faith that we are on. Marianne has been serving for many years as the pastor at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Seaford, and she has for the last few years been serving as a consultant to the mission support office, supporting parishes in Southern Delaware and our Southern Delaware Collaborative. And she’s also been serving as a consultant to parishes in transition. I’m moving Marianne from a consultant role to a member of this staff. She’ll be serving for three quarter time and continuing to work at St. Luke’s in Seaford.
The third position is one that’s actually completely new. I’ve asked the Rev. Deacon Cecily Sawyer-Harmon to serve as our racial justice and reconciliation missioner. When the Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission was formed a couple of years ago, the first of its kind in Delaware and one whose work has already made a difference in our community, it was envisioned that the commission would work alongside a missioner, and the missioner’s job is to be the person that keeps her foot on the gas, keeps our priority on this incredibly important work of racial justice.
I’m thrilled that Deacon Sawyer-Harmon, who has a long career in social work and in counseling, recently retired from the University of Delaware and ready to continue her work on racial justice, has said yes to this call. Now, it’s true that the priorities I laid out also include growth, and I haven’t mentioned someone to take that position. That’s going to take some more budget dollars, and that’s a priority that we’re going to look to grow into. Right now, the changes that we’ve laid out basically mean rearranging existing positions with the exception of our new missioner, which is being funded as a halftime position through one of the funds of our Trustees. I’m excited about this, but we also know that this work towards growth needs leadership, dedicated leadership as well.
In the coming year, I and the rest of the mission support office will flex and do our very best to see that these initiatives are supported, rolled out in some way, but we really do need dedicated leadership and growth if we are serious as a church about it. These are exciting times. This is exciting news that I have to share, and I pray that you’ll offer your prayers and support to Toni, Marianne, and Cecily even as they offer their prayers and their support to you and to the mission of your church.
It is good to do this work with you, my sisters and brothers. May the peace of Christ be with you always.