Dear Friends in Christ,
With thanks to God for our shared ministry, we want to let you know that the Standing Committee and Bishop Lee have agreed to extend his time as our provisional bishop until July 31, four months beyond our original two-year agreement. This additional time will allow us more opportunity to discern the future of the diocese while still abiding by the rules set by the Church Pension Fund for its retirees.
During the last two years, we have not only weathered the effects of the pandemic but also made great progress in reenergizing and reconnecting our congregations and establishing a collaborative model of ministry for the bishop and diocesan leaders. Our 2021 Mission Leadership Review provided us with valuable data about our diocese’s culture and vision for the future, and our diocesan staff is reorganized and refocused on supporting our congregations and diocesan ministries. In short, the future of God’s mission here is strong, and the Standing Committee is enormously grateful to Bishop Lee for helping lead us into this new chapter in our common life.
The coming months will be pivotal ones. Here are some details about the plans and possibilities before us:
- Between now and July 31, Bishop Lee will continue to be our bishop provisional, visiting congregations, working with staff to prepare for the transition, and participating in the Trialogue process.
- The Standing Committee will hold ecclesiastical authority beginning August 1 and will work closely with the diocesan staff, in whom we have great confidence. In consultation with the Episcopal Church’s Office of Pastoral Development, the Standing Committee has asked the Rt. Rev. Matt Gunter, Bishop of the Diocese of Fond du Lac and Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Eau Claire to serve as our interim assisting bishop beginning August 1, 2023. Bishop Gunter served as our assisting bishop in 2021, and the Standing Committee believes his presence will provide helpful continuity in this transition. He will visit for ordinations and confirmations and consult with the Standing Committee as needed.
- This will be a temporary arrangement that will last until our diocesan convention in October. At that convention, we may vote on a proposal to reunify the Dioceses of Milwaukee, Fond du Lac, and Eau Claire. We expect to know sometime in early summer whether the Trialogue Steering Committee will recommend a proposal for reunion.
- If our diocesan conventions vote to reunify, we will ask for the consent of the wider church as required by canon and, by God’s grace, become the Diocese of Wisconsin early in 2024.
- If reunion does not proceed, the Standing Committee will work with the Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development to begin the search for the next bishop of Milwaukee.
Between now and July 31, we will find time to celebrate our shared ministry with Bishop Lee; watch the diocesan newsletter for more details coming soon. In the meantime, please subscribe to the Trialogue newsletter and visit the Trialogue website to learn more about that discernment process and where God may be calling the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin.
Thank you, as always, for your faithfulness and love for the Diocese of Milwaukee.