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.
Describe the Standing Committee. What do you see as the main responsibilities?
The Standing Committee is meant to serve the bishop and be a confidential place for the bishop to bring questions and concerns and have open conversations. There are also some administrative tasks, including giving our consent for the elections of bishops in other dioceses as well as interviewing and affirming each candidate for ordination in our diocese. The Standing Committee usually meets once a month in Salem. Bishop Hanley recently started having the Standing Committee, Board of Trustees, and Diocesan Council meet together a few times a year, which I really enjoy. It’s a time of community and trust-building that helps us look for ways that we can work together.
What sparked your interest in serving the diocese this way?
As the daughter of a priest, I have a lot of empathy for the clergy life and the ways that it can be sort of isolating, particularly for a bishop. I wanted to be of help and provide a safe place for the bishop. This is my third term on the Standing Committee, so I have got to serve several bishops along the way! Also, I have been a part of the diocese for about 40 years, so I have a long institutional memory and understanding of who we are and our canonical laws that provides a lot of context for discussions.
What would you recommend for someone who is new to the Episcopal Church or our diocese and wants to build their knowledge of our organizational structure and governance?
I’d suggest starting by attending Convocation meetings. These regional gatherings are a great place to learn about the things happening in the diocese. I also think that Convention is an important time for connecting with the various ministries happening throughout the diocese; there are so many great booths in the exhibit section, and I am always encouraged to learn from them about all the ways people are living out the Gospel. Also, for me, Convention is like a big family reunion! I get to see people from all over who I may only see once a year, but I know that we are connected.
Why do you think people (especially lay people) should be involved in diocesan government?
I think it’s really important to be aware of the ways we are all connected. Just as the church helps you to move beyond an individually-focused faith, the diocese provides a picture that is bigger than each parish. Serving on a diocesan level, whether it’s one of the governing bodies or a ministry or commission, is a way of putting your faith into action. The more you involve yourself, the more you grow to care about it.
Also, at the end of the day, we are the Church, and without us, there would be nothing!