calendar June 17, 2006 in News

Synod staffing ‘a new design for a new day’

Bishop-elect Claire S. Burkat unveiled the first draft of a new synod staff design to the Synod Council June 8. In the new design, there will be three full-time assistants to the bishop combining roles currently carried out by six synod staff members. Each assistant will relate to three conferences along with a portfolio of other duties.

“The new design with three assistants captures the three major focuses of synod ministry – working with congregations, nurturing leaders and building partnerships within and beyond the synod – and immediately addresses the synod’s budget shortfall by reducing several synod staff positions”, Burkat said. Program and Support staff members will also have revised and expanded job responsibilities.

Other stakeholders, including the committee of deans, social ministry organizations, and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, will be involved in discussion as the new design unfolds this summer.

The Council issued six-year calls to two of the three assistants to the bishop:

  • The Rev. Dr. Lawrence L. Hand was called as assistant to the bishop with responsibilities in the areas of vocations and leadership, including mobility, candidacy, interim ministry and coordinating the work of the committee of deans.
  • The Rev. Serena Sellers was called as assistant to the bishop in the areas of resources and connections , with responsibilities for stewardship, social ministry organizations, development and partnerships. (Update: Pr. Sellers left the staff on Nov. 30, 2008 to become pastor of Peace-Tohickon, Perkasie.)

A third assistant position for evangelical outreach will assume the duties the bishop-elect has been performing as mission director (a deployed ELCA staff position) such as new mission development, along with evangelism, transformational ministry and revitalization of congregations. This position is expected to be filled by the fall.

Burkat told the council that while many synods are dealing with budget shortfalls by staffing with more part-time assistants, she decided to go with fewer full-time people in order to realize synergy among team members, and to expand the role of local partnerships. “We want to be releasing people’s gifts through collaboration,” she said.

In addition to Bishop Almquist, who is retiring, five other staff members will not continue to serve in the new administration: the Revs. Janet Corpus, Susan Ericsson, and Dick Stephens, who had served as assistants to the bishop, Jane Elliott, A.I.M., director for candidacy and discernment, and Ezell Thompson, administrative assistant. The synod celebrated their gifts with a service of godspeed and luncheon June 15.