From Bishop Sean: New Partnership Staff Structure To Begin in October

Dear Friends:

In recent months, I have worked with leaders in both dioceses to reconfigure the roles of the canons on the partnership staff so that we can better respond to the post-pandemic needs of our congregations and communities. Last Thursday, I met with the diocesan councils and standing committees of both dioceses to review a new staff structure.

Effective October 1, the canons on the bishop’s staff will include:

  • Partnership Canon for Administration Vanessa Butler
  • Partnership Canon for Pastoral Care and Congregational Support the Rev. Cathy Dempesy-Sims
  • Partnership Canon for Finance Cindy Dougan
  • Partnership Canon for Congregational Vitality and Transition the Rev. Jason Shank
  • Partnership Canon for Mission Program the Rev. Twila Smith

No staff member is departing during this reorganization except the Rev. Canon Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, with whom we will rejoice when she is ordained and consecrated bishop of South Carolina on October 2. Our talented missioners—Gabrie’l Atchison, Maria Manocchio, and Wendy Schumacher—and all of our other staff will continue in their roles, working with the canons as they assume their reconfigured positions. Canon Shank, who has been part-time priest of Resurrection, Hermitage, and Canon Smith, who has been part-time priest of St. Simon’s, Buffalo, will both conclude their congregational ministries and join the staff full-time in October. We are in the process of arranging for interim clergy support for the congregations they have been serving.

This new staff arrangement will make it more possible for partnership canons to take on long-term assignments in congregations across the partnership, providing hands-on support and expertise at pivotal times and allowing the diocesan partnership to share expenses for these staff positions with congregations in transition. You can expect to hear more soon about the first assignments I will ask Canon Shank and Canon Dempesy-Sims to undertake in this new arrangement.

Since we first embarked on our diocesan partnership in April 2019, I have been grateful for our collective willingness to learn from our experiences and adapt our strategies based on God’s call to our congregations. These new roles for our diocesan canons are no different; I expect that we will continue to make adjustments to staff roles and responsibilities as we learn more about how the world has changed in the last 18 months. Our diocesan partnership gives us just these kinds of opportunities to be innovative and responsive, and I am eager to begin this new season in our ministry together.