Steve Isaacson is a member of Trinity Cathedral, Portland, and serves on Diocesan Council.
What sparked your interest in serving on Diocesan Council?
To be honest, I didn’t know that much about the Diocesan Council when I agreed to be the nominee from the Columbia Convocation. However, one of my retirement goals was to be more involved in the work of the Church, starting with my own parish, Trinity Cathedral. I enjoyed being a delegate to the Diocesan Convention and looked at serving on the Diocesan Council as the next step in learning more about the work of the Episcopal Church in Oregon.
What are some of the significant tasks that you undertake as the Diocesan Council? Why are those actions important for the life of the diocese?
Upon joining the Council, I was appointed to the Congregational Relations/DPA Committee, in retrospect a perfect place for me. Our DPAs (Diocesan Program Assessments) are so important for funding the work of the Diocese: help with payroll and human resource matters, communication, our camp and Christian education programs, our Convention, to name just a few. Some dioceses take a hard line in enforcing parishes’ diocesan contributions; our diocese chooses to take a relational approach, understanding the challenges of Oregon’s up-and-down economy and its effect on congregants’ giving. We are tasked with identifying parishes that are behind in their contributions and with carefully considering the factors behind their inability to contribute fully. In teams of two, we set up meetings with those churches to learn as much as we can about their situation and help them create a plan to address their debt. The churches I have had interaction with are very open and appreciative of this approach. Conversely, I have developed a broader understanding of and love for our Diocese. I have enjoyed getting to know many of the gifted clergy in the Diocese and growing in my respect for the many wonderful things that even our small and struggling parishes are doing in their ministries.
Are there any personal highlights from your involvement on Council that you would share?
I would have to say that the highlight for me has been the visits I’ve made with Canon Neysa, Dan Morrow, and Michael Hunter-Bernstein to churches we are in conversation with, meeting and talking with their priests and lay leaders, and learning about the good things they are doing as well as their challenges. All have a heart for their communities and sharing the Good News.
Do you have any words of encouragement for people considering running for election to Diocesan Council?
I think the most important aspect of the job is showing up. Our lives our so busy, and there have been times I haven’t been able to attend Council meetings, but I try to make it a priority in my schedule because important work goes on there. I think it is important to look on service on the Council as a ministry. The ability to listen and being prayerful about the issues we discuss are certainly important.
We have a wonderful Diocese and exceptional leadership in Bishop Michael and Canon Neysa, and I have more fully appreciated this fact as I have been involved on the Council. Having a vital diocese requires laity who will step up and participate in the important work of the Church. It has been a rewarding experience for me.
This is part of a series of interviews with former and current members of the Standing Committee, Board of Trustees, and Diocesan Council, the three main bodies that comprise our diocesan government. All three are accepting nominations for new members, with the election taking place at Convention.