To the Faithful of the Diocese of Olympia,
I write to share with all of you some changes in staffing and a reorganization within the Office of the Bishop. These changes were carefully considered in conjunction with our new vision, and the idea of the “second episcopate” that so many of you resonated with and which came out of our year of discernment and pilgrimage. I first want to thank the many of you that responded to the letter regarding my decision to live into this second episcopate, and in those responses, the acknowledgement of all that is still before us, and the encouragement to keep walking the Way and living into that work. These changes are made with all of that in mind.
First, to remind you of our new vision: The Diocese of Olympia is comprised of Locally Centered and Networked Communities, Forming Christian Leaders through Sacrament and Service.
The hope, with these changes, is to continue the work of “flattening” the organizational structure, building in efficiency, and focusing on the Office of the Bishop becoming a resource to the local congregations, ministries, and individuals working within the Diocese of Olympia to further the Jesus Movement, and bringing the love and hope of Jesus to the world.
To that end, I want to welcome the Rev. Arienne Davison, who many of you know well, as the new Canon to the Ordinary and Chief of Staff. Arienne is currently vicar of St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Port Orchard. She will resign from that position and come on board in the Office of the Bishop beginning March 16. In this position, Arienne will serve some of the typical roles of a Canon to the Ordinary, but will also be most focused on clergy transitions, staff supervision at Diocesan House, Intercultural Development Inventory work, anti-racism, and supporting congregations of every language and ethnicity. She will also serve as the main contact for Title IV processes. Arienne was, until just last week, president of the Standing Committee, but will, of course, now resign from that committee. The Rev. Steve Danzey, rector of Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in Sammamish, was elected by the Standing Committee as its president at its most recent meeting. Steve has been on the Standing Committee for a year and will do an excellent job in this office.
The Rev. Canon Alissa Newton’s role will be expanded to Canon for Congregational Development and Leadership Formation and will increase her time in the Office of the Bishop, while continuing also as vicar of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in Kent. I have always had a firm belief, which Alissa shares, that the person filling this position must also be actually leading a congregation. She will continue that with the aid of her associate, the Rev. Megan Mullarkey. In this position, Alissa will continue to oversee the College for Congregational Development inside the diocese and also the “launches” in other dioceses as they come on board. We have currently launched the College for Congregational Development in four dioceses across The Episcopal Church and two in the Anglican Church of Canada. We will be launching in four additional Episcopal dioceses this summer and expect to add two more to that list in 2021. Alissa will also oversee our consultant networks and initiatives within our diocese that focus on the development and formation of congregational leaders, clergy and lay.
Canon Dede Moore will also remain with the Office of the Bishop, with a title change. She will now be Canon for Diocesan Networking and Connections. Dede will focus on how we gather as a diocese, both through our annual convention and the Bishop’s Leadership Conference, as well as other diocesan gatherings and special events. She will continue her leadership work with our existing networks, including our governing bodies, provide oversight of human resources for Diocesan House and diocesan entities, and consult with congregations on human resources issues and questions.
Two other staff also have title changes: Josh Hornbeck, currently Communications Director, will now be Canon Missioner for Communications with his duties largely the same. Valerie Reinke, currently Canon for Youth and Young Adults, will become Canon Missioner for Youth and Young Adults.
Even my title will change as I will remain Bishop Diocesan but will add to it the duties once covered by the Canon for Stewardship and Development. When I was trained by the late Ms. Terry Parsons, past Stewardship Officer for The Episcopal Church, she would often say to us, “I am waiting for the first bishop to change his/her title to “Chief Steward.” I have no idea if I am the first, but I am going to make her wish come true. My new title will be Bishop Diocesan and Chief Steward. This also increases my direct teaching role, a very important one for bishops, and yet so little practiced. In this new role I will be available to come to your congregation to work with vestries, stewardship committees, legacy and planned giving efforts, and the congregations on the theology and practice of Christian stewardship.
Of course, ultimately, we all have very important roles in the work ahead. None are more important than any others. You will be hearing much more about the details of these various changes, but I wanted to let you know this now. I ask your continued prayers for our staff, and our diocese, and that these changes might help us move closer to the vision we have, and visions yet unknown.