Transitions for Episcopal Church, DFMS staff

Posted Aug 15, 2012

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The Episcopal Church and the church-wide Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) staff are undergoing transitions to re-orient not only the work of the church-wide staff but also where that work will be conducted.

The transitions are primarily, but not completely, a result of actions approved at General Convention 2012 in July. Many are budget-based and most are intended to be responsive to the priorities established at General Convention.

“The decisions on the re-orientation and transitions were made by senior management, particularly in affected departments, working as a team,” noted Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls. “The overriding concern has been to make decisions that serve the church as a whole as it engages God’s mission at the most local levels.”

Sauls emphasized that the predominant focus is on a redesign. “We have been reviewing and talking about seriously redesigning what we, as a staff, do and how we do it in order to meet the needs of the church in different circumstances than what our current structures were designed to address,” he said. “The whole church is being called to restructure for mission. We as the DFMS staff must engage this work faithfully.”

Among the areas scrutinized by the senior management team, Sauls continued, are work responsibilities, parameters of the ministry offerings of a denominational headquarters, staff locations, and implementation of priorities of General Convention particularly around the Five Marks of Mission. The areas of focus at present are office locations, current staffing, and re-visioning the worked done by the church-wide staff.

In addition, Sauls is continuing talks with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on various mutual innovations, particularly in sharing staff and space. While staffing and office locations are being addressed first, there will be a further examination into other options, Sauls stressed, including joint mission efforts and initiatives.

Physical surroundings
The Office of Federal Ministries, located in Washington, D.C., already has moved to quarters on the grounds of Washington National Cathedral. This July move has resulted in rent reduction and decreases in other facility costs.

Sauls is working with the international real estate group Cushman & Wakefield to investigate office space for church-wide staff, as announced by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in June and subsequently endorsed by General Convention in July.

A lease arrangement is expected to be completed shortly for unused space on the sixth floor of the Church Center in New York City, thereby generating revenue for DFMS.

Staffing
In the staffing areas, the senior management team is analyzing the reorientation of staff for optimum results and to more effectively address the church’s needs and priorities in mission.

“It is also imperative to fulfill the commitments made by the presiding bishop’s budget proposal to General Convention, which became the basis for the Five Marks of Mission budget which was approved, to reduce the size of the staff to keep as many resources as possible available at local levels,” Sauls said.

As such, the reduction in force (RIF) translates to the cutting of 10.25 full-time equivalent positions, five of which are unfilled. The remaining 5.25 full-time equivalent positions are located in the Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle offices. There also has been a redefining of some existing positions to better meet evolving needs and priorities. In a few cases, redefined jobs will no longer be held by existing staff members and a search process will begin for those positions with some jobs posted by Labor Day.

• Four departmental areas have been affected by the staffing reorientation: communication, human resources, legal and mission. These positions have been affected either by staff realignment, RIF, or a reduction in hours in the areas of congregational development, environment, Episcopal News Service, human resources, and legal.

• A creative arrangement with The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) provides for the DFMS officer for stewardship to transition to TENS as a staff member.

• The budget and resolutions adopted by General Convention have prompted a refocusing and rebuilding in domestic poverty work and the Development Office.

“This is an understandably difficult time for the members of the staff,” Sauls said.

“It is hard for us to say goodbye to people we care about and people who have served the church self-sacrificially over the years, something for which all of us in the church should be very grateful.”

Severance packages, marked both by responsibility and compassion, have been provided to departing staff including the offer of professional outplacement services. All staff affected by the transition were notified in person by their supervisors. All staff transitions will be completed by Aug. 29.


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Comments (16)

  1. John McCann says:

    Singo your “outplaced” staffers are going to be 99%ers like most of the rest of us. You wont know what its like until you have walked in our shoes.

    If you are looking for space, Trinity Wall Street is trying to get rid of their retreat site. Neighbors in Cornwall are afraid its going to become subdivisions, why not talkto Trinity, and see if you could locate your staff there. Check it oout through Trinity Real Estate,they have tons of money.

  2. Rev.Thomas C. Jackson says:

    Well that sure doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a church that is supposed to be trying to reverse a downward trend in attendance:
    * less resources for congregational development,
    * less work to protect God’s creation (environment),
    * less communications from the Episcopal News Service, and (my favorite mistake)
    * fewer legal resources (because we are so not going to ever be sued by anyone again, especially not anyone in South Carolina).
    There’s a mistake here: we are not losing members because we can’t afford to do “mission” at the parish of diocesan level. If it were a matter of money, Trinity Wall Street would have been a megachurch decades ago. Once again we are mistaking structural change for significant change. And once again we will look back on this move and call it a mistake.

  3. I have long advocated relocating the Presiding Bishop and staff plus the General Convention office to the Washington DC area. I think the grounds of the National Cathedral would be ideal. However, in my tenure at 815 there was no movement in this direction for a variety of reasons…none of which in the long perspective of history seem substantial. The next best alternatives are the Chicago area or the Dallas/Ft. Worth area…these mid-country locations both have good air service connections…a very important locational factor. Of these 2 Chicago seems the better choice…some place near O’Hare Airport, perhaps.

    In any event, I salute the “senior management” for addressing these issues and seeking consensus in the General Convention. Good show!!

  4. I am struck by the “business tone” describing the changes, particularly “redefining positions”. If you have not had that happen to you, you have no idea of how painful it is. The Church marches on, but suddenly you are dropped off the planet! One week you know where you belong and the next week, you don’t really belong anywhere.
    I realize there is a need for the Church to operate with business principles but we are also called to be different from the business world as usual. “Business has a profit motive. Church has a prophet motive.” Good to know the difference. I don’t think Jesus had a Senior Management Team.

  5. Lisa Fox says:

    The press release says: “Four departmental areas have been affected by the staffing reorientation: communication, human resources, legal and mission. These positions have been affected either by staff realignment, RIF, or a reduction in hours in the areas of congregational development, environment, Episcopal News Service, human resources, and legal.”

    One of the things I heard clearly at General Convention was a desire for a robust communication function. Is that being translated into staff cuts in that area? We cannot survive any more losses in the communications area!

  6. Alan M. Shaver says:

    A couple of comments responding to some of the comments already posted:

    1) If you have ever been to the Trinity Church, Wall Street retreat center in Cornwall, CT you will know how far away this is from any place. Savings in rental cost would be more than lost with the expense of transportation to and from the center.

    2) Locating in Washington, DC is not a good idea. First of all, the Washington area is among the most expensive for living costs anywhere in the country; for another, it will be really healthy for the Church Staff to be located away from the East Coast where a very limited view of the world exists. Better to be exposed to others whose lives do not revolve around government.

    1. Terence Kelshaw says:

      Don’t re locate to Washington DC….the TEC is politicised enough

      BUT DO MOVE! Some have been asking of thios for years

  7. Rhonda Muir says:

    I’d like to read something about evangilism from the DMS……isn’t that what Jesus would have us do, share about him to people who do not know him? We have other bodies to be his hands in the world through kind help to people in need. How will this reorganization and downsizing better prepare the church to reach out to

  8. Rhonda Muir says:

    (oops) those who know Jesus only through the media?

  9. The Reverend Dr. Brent Was says:

    I hope the irony is not lost on our decision makers that our church has laid off our Officer for Environmental and Economic Justice in the middle of the greatest environmental and economic crisis that our nation has ever faced. I mentioned this in my homily on Sunday and there were gasps from the congregation. Foolish? Short-sighted? Fiscally responsible? Woe be it to us who consent to running a church like a business: we will get what we pay for.

  10. Catherine Cummings says:

    Many years ago back in the late 1960s moving the Episcopal HQ from NY City to Indianapolis, Indiana was considered. Costs were (and still are) lower in Indianapolis than NY City. Indianapolis is in the middle of country. I believe the Eli Lilly family offered to bear some of the costs. Of course, this idea was rejected. Since then Indianapolis has experienced a transformation, building a modern convention center and renovating the downtown area. It has transformed itself into a vibrant city. May be it’s time to take another look?

    Now everything is going more and more to online media it is no longer necessary to be in a huge commercial city like NY to be effective in communications. Teleconferencing is also a lot cheaper and easier than traveling to another city with all the inherent expenses and travel delays. Let’s move into the 21st century.

    Another thought: those so-called “mega auditorium, God-of-prosperity churches” are losing members and falling apart; for example, Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral has been sold, and Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church has been racked by money problems and scandals.

  11. Joslyn Ogden Schaefer says:

    I’m thrilled to hear about the prospect of sharing staff and space with the ELCA – we are truly “Called to Common Mission.” It would be great to see the church on a national level “live into” that call and provide additional inspiration for collaboration on the local level.

  12. Ken Ritter says:

    Believing that the Church, parishes and church entities should not be run like “businesses” at some level is folly. If the Church had been run more efficiently like effective businesses we wouldn’t have some of the financial issues that we have. We are in the “business” of spreading God’s word and serving in His name. Like any effective secular business we must account for what we have for mission and use it wisely. Having efficient and effective structures in place can allow for very productive ministry and mission. I think that Jesus did have a very effective “Senior Management Team” in His apostles and followers who would go on to spread His teachings. It’s about time that our Church learns to more effectively navigate in today’s business enviornment so as to have the greatest impact.

  13. Rich McDonough says:

    There are many cities throughout the US that are capable of supporting a move by the Church Center. Besides the ones mentioned, there is Nashville (home to the UMC and SBC), Louisville (PCUSA), Cincinnati / Northern KY, among a few. While politics is in every location, my suggestion would be to find a home in the heart of the country. And yes, unfortunately these are “business decisions”. That’s the job of the COO.

  14. Doug Desper says:

    It will do our leadership and resource officers some good to get away from that small island called Manhattan. The unfortunate reality is that there is often a parochial and somewhat elitist cosmopolitan tone that is generated there wherein the rest of the country is looked upon as mere flyover country. Perhaps rubbing elbows with the real mainstream of America will help change the unfortunate realities that have dragged our Church down for the last decades.

  15. Leslie Jordan says:

    Whatever the realities behind these changes the language of this document is appalling. It’s dishonest on every level.

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