More People Speak: Portland and Corvallis Diocesan Listening Sessions

More People Speak: Portland and Corvallis Diocesan Listening Sessions

By Martin Loring, Chair, 11th Bishop of Oregon Search Committee

Diocesan Listening Sessions continued Saturday, August 17 at two locations. In the morning, some 53 people from greater Portland area congregations came to St. Barnabas, Portland to hear from the Vision Committee, the Relocation Committee and the 11th Bishop of Oregon Search Committee. We were blessed with the participation of a group of Latinx congregants and clergy, and the services of an interpreter were made available. Short overviews were provided on the work of each committee. Then people broke into small groups to discuss the three topics in greater depth. Great hospitality was provided by parishioners and clergy of St. Barnabas.

In the afternoon, the same process was repeated at the Church of the Good Samaritan in Corvallis with 31 people from Mid-Willamette Valley congregations. Again, the hospitality provided by the clergy and parishioners of Good Samaritan was outstanding.

At both sessions people interested in the bishop search joined one of several table conversations with members of the Search Committee. Each participant was asked to commit to post-it notes their ideas about the bishop search in three areas; 1) hopes, 2) concerns, and 3) one word describing the Diocese of Oregon. Feedback received in Portland and Corvallis is as follows:

What we heard at St. Barnabas, Portland

HOPES (expressed in English):

  • I hope our next bishop sees the need and answers the need to form our children
  • I hope for a bishop who is accessible
  • A bishop who tries to be on first name basis with many of us, across the diocese
  • A bishop who is steeped fundamentally in prayer
  • Hope for openness to new ways of being “church”
  • Hope for REAL inclusion and social justice
  • We need a woman bishop
  • Women on the slate
  • People of color on the slate
  • Openness to diversity in action: genuine and inquiring
  • Open to various music options
  • Likes diverse music and types of worship
  • Ability to make decisions for the best, despite opposition
  • A bishop who can govern effectively, delegate, be firm, be encouraging
  • People will be allowed to minister, not banned because of past associations
  • Approachable and supportive of female priests and deacons
  • Flexible
  • Engage the next generation in the life of the church
  • I hope the bishop can see and tolerate complex questions and issues
  • Will allow successful ministries to continue
  • Bishop to be more connected with parishioners
  • Open Table (i.e. for communion)
  • Views our mutual work with joy in following gospel: Matthew 25
  • Interested in caring for Spanish-language concerns
  • A vision that is different from the past; inspired by the gospel
  • A person willing to work outside the box, to encourage growth in all areas of diocese through different thinking
  • Willing to travel and visit all parishes
  • A bishop who walks humbly, but does so prominently; an example for all
  • A bishop who will bring a deep understanding of intersectionality
  • A bishop who will name injustice and oppression using clear language and concrete examples
  • Not conflict avoidant – willing to address conflict
  • A person who can see the kingdom come now! Not waiting for some future event/time.
  • Compassion
  • Gospel centered diocesan mission, values and inclusiveness
  • A bishop who will be a visionary and an administrator, balancing the two in new, innovative ways
  • My hope is the people of the Diocese of Oregon has a mission/vision that reflects the people – so the search for a new bishop will reflect our mission/vision
  • A person sensitive to our Latinx members (Their place as equal)
  • Kind and theologically trained

HOPES (expressed in Spanish)

  • Tengo el deseo de que nuestro nuevo obispo sea sensible a lost problemas de las minorías y sea comprensivo en las necesitats (I hope our new bishop deals with sensitivity to the the problems and needs of the minorities)
  • Comprensión (Understanding)
  • Te tenga un espíritu misionero Abierto al reto del ministerio en español. (To have a spirit of mission open to the challenge in regard to the Spanish-language ministries)
  • Que sea conprensiuo que nos. Sepa escochar ques sea umilde. (I hope the bishop understands, listens to us and is humble.)
  • Un obispo que este dispuesto a escuchar y ayudar prioridades del pueblo. (I hope the bishop will listen and help with the priorities of the community)
  • Un obispo que es te dispuesto a ay u darnos con problemas de migración. (I hope the bishop can help with the immigration problems)
  • Me gustaeia ole toda la información en varios idiomas. (I’d like for all information to be in multiple languages)

CONCERNS (expressed in English):

  • An idea to ponder: would it change the candidates process if the bishop’s compensation package were the same as the median clergy package in the diocese?
  • A person who doesn’t/can’t listen to all people, but only hears the voice of the rich/big congregations
  • A person who is part of the “old boys club,” chosen because they are a comfortable choice.
  • How is the new bishop expected to react to what seems will be a “fait accompli” in regard to the outcome of the present committees?, ie, Vision and Relocation
  • “New” focus will be maintaining the status quo
  • That our bishop doesn’t reach out effectively to the world but focuses on just the USA
  • Postulants already in the process but not yet a candidate
  • My concern is the lack of having a strong statement of faith on the diocesan level will make calling a new bishop more of a challenge.
  • Valuing consensus more than our commitment to justice and equity
  • A holy person who says his/her prayers!
  • Identity politics becoming infused with church polity
  • That some of us become unthinking or unfeeling impediments to the bishop’s work
  • Concern that people will gravitate to a candidate who would uphold the status quo (i.e. racial, economic, cultural, etc.)
  • Concern about all parishes being treated equally
  • Not hearing concerns of parishioners
  • Concern about someone who might to play “politics”
  • Concern about someone with no understanding of Christian Oregon
  • Concerned we may choose another monolingual bishop
  • Vetting of clergy prior to application to a position as parish priest
  • Transition for those of us who are postulants but not yet candidates

CONCERNS (expressed in Spanish):

  • Me preocupa que el nuevo Obispo tenga la sensibilidad de comprensión con las minorías de todo tipo
  • Que se oluide el ministerio Latino/Hispano
  • Que hable o Entienda Español
  • Un obispo Abierto a la unidad

ONE WORD DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DIOCESE (expressed in English):

  • Family
  • Unity
  • Diverse Communities
  • Community helpful
  • Caring
  • Kind
  • Diverse
  • Love
  • Diverse
  • Loving
  • Love
  • Knows Jesus
  • Anxious
  • Anxious
  • Adrift
  • Disconnected
  • Disconnected
  • Devastated
  • Brittle

ONE WORD DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DIOCESE (expressed in Spanish):

  • Dispersada
  • Igualdad
  • Unida
  • Tristerza
  • Unidad

What we heard at the Church of the Good Samaritan, Corvallis

HOPES:

  • Growing the church
  • Real support for congregations & local ministries
  • Inclusive of all parishes: Yes!
  • Has a heard for social justice and empowering our parish communities to be active
  • Youth programs
  • Centering prayer
  • From Bishop: Pastoral care/ vision shared with rectors & parishes
  • Direction to parishes on how to get involved in the diocesan vision
  • Promoting inclusiveness, (as does our current bishop)
  • Music Camp for both adults and youth
  • Inter spirituality
  • Spanish speaking and acculturated in Latin ways
  • Help us to be less ”polite” and able to proclaim God’s justice courageously.
  • Prayerful and pastoral voice
  • I hope for someone who will be able to see which way the wind is blowing and be able to get ahead of the curve because our culture is in a period of dramatic and prolonged change. I want a bishop who can identify what will WORK for people. What will be effective will built community
  • Bringing Northern & Southern parishes together in understanding and doing things together
  • Unity (of) the Episcopal community in Western Oregon
  • Engagement on all levels
  • We grow the church by sharing our faith and traditions better
  • Disciplined prayer life and the encouragement of such
  • Bridge builder: north/south/coast; other faith traditions for common cause; tradition/innovation

CONCERNS:

  • Financial struggles with smaller parishes/missions
  • Declining church membership
  • How to encourage small congregational ministry
  • Experienced at parish level
  • Transparency and communication
  • Cutting funding to programs
  • Western Oregon is more than Portland
  • Focused inward and not outward
  • Financial struggles combined with the need to relocate and shrinking numbers

ONE WORD DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DIOCESE

  • Heart
  • Servant
  • Listener
  • Flexible
  • Facilitator
  • Community
  • Godly
  • Compassion
  • Outreach
  • One
  • Prayerful
  • Open
  • Humble

While the three formal Diocesan Listening Sessions are now complete, all three of the presenting committees continue to want to hear from the people of the diocese throughout their ongoing processes. Click here to view video of one of the Diocesan Listening Sessions and provide feedback online.

If you are interested in helping with the Transition Committee, please click here to learn more and apply to join the committee by the August 29th deadline. Additionally, if you have not already done so, please complete the Survey on the Bishop Search available on the diocesan website. Finally, please feel free to contact me, or any member of the Search Committee at any time with your comments and concerns.