January 9, 2018
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As you already know, our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr., has announced his plans to retire as the 10th Bishop of Michigan, effective December 31, 2019. Those of us who are members of the Diocese of Michigan Standing Committee received his plans with surprise and sadness. Bishop Gibbs will be greatly missed, both on a diocesan and on a personal level. It is a comfort, however, to know that we will have had the grace of over 20 years of our Bishop’s leadership, ministry and pastoral care.
Although we must begin the process involved in this episcopal transition, it is important to remember that Bishop Gibbs will remain our bishop for close to two more years. There is still a great deal for us to accomplish together during his time remaining as our bishop. Under his leadership, we have taken important steps toward becoming the truly diverse, inclusive, and equitable community that we are called to be. That important work must continue to be a focus of our diocesan life together. We cannot let even the solemn and sacred work of seeking a new bishop divert our attention from the health of the diocese to which a new bishop will be called.
As members of the Standing Committee, we are aware of the role the Standing Committee must carry out during the months ahead, as our diocese engages in the process of seeking and electing its 11th Bishop. The Standing Committee has already met with The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley from the Episcopal Church Office of Pastoral Development to discuss the steps that must be taken during this time of transition. Our first step, to interview and select a consultant from The Episcopal Church Office of Pastoral Development, is complete. Our consultant, The Rev. Kimberly Jackson from the Diocese of Atlanta, has participated in search processes at both the local and diocesan level. The Standing Committee is delighted that our diocese will have her guidance and wise counsel during this time of episcopal transition.
The next steps in this process include the creation of a transition plan and timeline, and the appointment of a Search and Nomination Committee. More information on the role and responsibilities of the Search and Nomination Committee will be distributed shortly. As your Standing Committee, we are committed to keeping you informed throughout this time of transition with as much clarity and transparency as possible.
There is much work to be done by many hands as we journey through this time of change, but we are mindful that this process must be guided by grace and prayerful discernment. We ask that you join us in prayer for Bishop Wendell and Karlah, for our diocese, along with its staff and its ministries, and for all those who will be involved in seeking, nominating, and preparing for the consecration of our new bishop.
So that we may be united in voice and spirit, we ask that the following prayer be used throughout our diocese, in both personal prayers and in our Sunday worship services.
O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come; You have journeyed with your people Israel and we pray you, journey with us now, in this time of episcopal transition and change. Walk beside us on the road that is ahead, calm our fears, awaken our hope, and open our hearts, as together we seek your guidance. Inspire us, and those appointed to search for candidates, to discern your will for the Diocese of Michigan. May we put our whole trust in you as we look to Christ, the great shepherd of our souls; who together with the Holy Spirit is alive and reigns now and for ever. Amen.
With God’s peace and blessings,
Ms. Ann Putallaz (President), St Clare of Assisi, Ann Arbor
The Rev. Deon Johnson, St. Paul’s, Brighton
The Rev. Joyce Matthews, Christ Church Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills
The Rev. Paula Miller, St. Michael and All Angels, Lincoln Park
The Rev. William T. Roberts (Secretary), Emmaus, Walled Lake
Mr. Geoffrey Smereck, St. John’s, Westland
Dr. Peter Trumbore, St. Mary’s in-the-Hills, Lake Orion
Ms. Juanita Woods, All Saints’, Detroit