Report to Convention 2021
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of California is a body of eight people, four of whom are clergy persons and four of whom are laypersons. The Diocesan Convention elects members of the Standing Committee. Each year one new lay and one new clergy member are elected to replace retiring members.
The Standing Committee derives its roles and responsibilities from the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of California. In addition to its primary role(s) as a council of advice to the bishop or as the ecclesial authority of the diocese in the absence of a bishop, the work of the Standing Committee falls into the following areas:
Participating in the ordinations process in coordination with the Bishop, the Vocations Office, and the Commission on Ministry.
Sharing joint responsibility with the Executive Council as “The Vestry of the Diocese.”
Overseeing the work of the Committee on Governance and working with the bishop to maximize the smooth governance of the diocese.
With Bishop Marc sharing oversight of the work of Diocesan Institutions.
Overseeing the work of Nominations for elected Diocesan Leadership positions.
Consenting to Episcopal Elections across The Episcopal Church.
Participating in the work of Grace Cathedral through its Board of Trustees.
The members of the 2020-2021 Standing Committee are:
The Rev. Pamela Jester, Clergy Order, Class of 2021, Vice-President
Ms. Albe Larsen, Lay Order, Class of 2021
Ms. Noreen Huey, Lay Order, Class of 2022, Secretary
The Rev. Dr. Deborah White, Clergy Order, Class of 2022, President
The Rev. Todd Bryant, Clergy Order, Class of 2023
Mr. Andrew Han, Lay Order, Class of 2023
Ms. Robyn Amos, Lay Order, Class of 2024
The Rev. Mauricio Wilson, Clergy Order, Class of 2024
A significant fact about this Standing Committee is that for the first time in the history of The Diocese of California all its officers identify as women.
The 2021 Standing Committee has had a busy and productive year, fulfilling both its prescribed duties and, in partnership with Bishop Marc, introducing several new initiatives.
Regarding the ongoing work of The Standing Committee:
We consented to the ordinations to the priesthood of Ethan Lowery and Colby Roberts.
We consented to the ordinations to the diaconate of Miguel Bustos and Stephen Tiffenson.
We consulted on the Executive Council’s work with St. Dorothy’s Rest, The Bishop’s Ranch, and St. Columba’s retreat centers.
We consented to the following:
license agreements for Transfiguration Church San Mateo and Resurrection Church Pleasant Hill.
lease agreements for St. Peter’s Redwood City, St. Paul’s Church in San Rafael and Grace Cathedral and a lease termination for St. Paul’s in San Rafael.
refinancing agreements for St. Bede’s Church in Menlo Park and St. Clare’s Church in Pleasanton.
an easement for St. Anselm’s Church in Lafayette.
We received updates on proposed property changes at Church of Our Savior in Oakland and The Bluebird project in Contra Costa County.
Sadly, we voted to close St. Cuthbert’s Church in Oakland.
We discovered that one of our diocesan institutions was no longer active in the diocese and presented a resolution to remove it from the Convention list of institutions.
Joyfully, we consented to the appointment of Hayley McKeefrey-Delmas as the Archdeacon of The Diocese of California.
We consented to the episcopal elections in the dioceses of Chicago, Pittsburg, South Carolina, Iowa, and Wyoming.
In the absence of a Chair of Nominations, our Liaison to the Nominations Committee, The Rev. Mauricio Wilson, along with his counterpart on the Executive Council, convened the Nominations Committee and oversaw election of a new Chair.
The Standing Committee was represented at all Grace Cathedral Board meetings and its primary fundraiser, Carnivale, this year.
Continuing the work of our most recent Past President, The Reverend Michael Barham, the Standing Committee established clearer and closer relationships with our Diocesan Institutions. To that end, we met with representatives from The Episcopal Impact Fund, The School for Deacons, Ohlhoff House, St. Dorothy’s Rest, and Clausen House. We approved the full boards of Ohlhoff House, The School for Deacons, St. Dorothy’s Rest, and Clausen House, as well as six (6) new board members for Episcopal Impact Fund. We also approved the bylaws of Ohlhoff House.
The Diocese of California has endured a great deal of upheaval this year. The emotional and spiritual costs of the pandemic have been high for both lay and clergy leaders. We are surrounded by reminders that church attendance across denominations is in decline. It has been necessary for our congregations to find new and innovative ways to be church and we have done it with grit and grace. The struggles and triumphs of our congregations have not gone unnoticed by the Standing Committee. In an effort to find ways to support Bishop Marc and the people of DioCal, we have tried to match the energy and innovation of our peers, attempting to accomplish our required duties efficiently so that we have had the time to advise Bishop Marc as he has focused on the broader concerns of the diocese. We are most grateful that Bishop Marc embraced our desire, treating us as equal partners in visioning our joint future during this important time of transition in the diocese. Through honest and prayerful dialogue with him, we have been able to share with Bishop Marc in the creation of several exciting new endeavors, including:
1. Embarkation on a revisioning process of the structure of diocesan leadership. This has included review of the structures of 59 other dioceses, two mini-retreats with participation from diocesan staff and elected diocesan leadership, and ongoing conversation about how organizational structures support their professed missional priorities. We have also talked about the necessity for a clear and transparent management structure that enables us to focus on living our faith in authentic and missional ways. The first concrete outcome of this process is the decision by the bishop to create the positions of Regional Canons, who will serve as administrative managers of our deaneries.
2. Creation of The Bishop’s Task Force on Diocesan Leadership. This is a time-limited task force focused on developing specific recommendations for recruiting a larger and more diverse group of individuals to serve in diocesan leadership positions; looking at the ways in which diversity has been achieved and can be replicated in diocesan leadership; and exploring pathways for providing leadership training to prospective leaders. This group has expanded its work and provided the Bishop and Standing Committee with valuable suggestions about improving communication in the diocese. We would like to gratefully thank the members of the task force: Mr. Ade Adekunle, Ms. Jeanette Dinwiddie-Moore, The Rev. Dr. Paul Fromberg, The Rev. Dr. Stephen Hassett, Ms. Sherry Lund, The Rev. Walter Ramsey, and Mr. Steve Siptroth.
3. Concrete efforts to solidify positive relationships among the participants in the ordinations process by holding a mini retreat that included Bishop Marc, individuals from the Vocations office, the Commission on Ministry, and the Standing Committee.
4. Creation of the position of Diocesan Institutions Liaison. This appointment is jointly supervised by the bishop and officers of the Standing Committee who are jointly responsible for consenting to the work of Diocesan Institutions. We are most grateful that The Rev. Michael Barham has accepted this responsibility.
5. The creation of the Adopt a Diocesan Institution program, which encourages fruitful relationships between our congregations and institutions.
6. Consultation and consideration of cloud document accessibility and storage within the diocese. This is part of an ongoing effort by Bishop Marc and the Standing Committee to improve transparency and communication within the diocese.
7. Intellectual and spiritual sharing through “The Bishop’s Book Club,” during which we take time from our meetings together to discuss a book we are all reading that is pertinent to our work. This year we began, “The Church Cracked Open,” by The Reverend Canon Stephanie Spellers.
I have always thought that among the many Episcopal idiosyncrasies, the Standing Committee is one of the hardest to explain. It is not quite like a vestry, and it seems important, but it is hard to feel clear on what its members do. One of the reasons I have written such a long report is so that you can now say you know what this Standing Committee (at least) has been doing. It is also important that you know how to keep up with our work and communicate with us. Our minutes are posted on the diocesan website (https://www.diocal.org/governance/standing-committee). We can be reached easily by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We would love to hear your questions and opinions. We actually sit down sometimes.
We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Executive Council, the Rev. Canon Debbie, former Canon Abbott Bailey, Chancellor Christopher Hayes, the Staff at DioHouse, Secretary Brother Richard Edward Helmer, our forever companion The Reverend Michael Barham, all the members of the various committees of the diocese, and all our family members in the beloved community that is DioCal. We are especially thankful for the tremendous work of our outgoing members, Albe Larsen and Pam Jester. We will miss you! Finally, it is a blessing to be a council of advice to Bishop Marc Andrus.
The Rev. Deborah White, Ph.D.
Standing Committee, 2020-2021