By Dana Phillips

In an exciting new way of doing business, members of Diocesan Council, the Standing Committee, and the Board of Trustees met jointly on Saturday, May 16, to reflect on what has been accomplished since last October’s Diocesan Convention, and to begin setting an agenda of “Building a Foundation for Unity” for the years ahead.

Among the major accomplishments of the last eight months, members of the leadership teams cited the establishing of an infrastructure and office for the administrative work of the Diocese; the presence of Assisting Bishop Robert Johnson; recognition of the continuing Diocese by The Episcopal Church; progress on legal issues; a positive Special Convention in December, 2008; and, a growing culture of acceptance.

Major goals selected for future work included:

— Effective communication both among Episcopalians in southwestern Pennsylvania and between the Diocese and the larger community;

— Planning for a process of prayerful discernment about a Bishop to lead the Diocese in the short and long term;

— Strengthening current congregations;

— Reaching out to Episcopalians who are without a congregation due to “re-alignment” as well as to those seeking to return to the Episcopal Church;

— Resolution of litigation and property/asset issues;

— Continuing the work to build trust and mutual respect across the Diocese, reclaiming our spirit of joy in Mission and Ministry.

“We’ve now begun a process we need to see through,” said the Rev. Nancy Chalfant-Walker, echoing the enthusiasm expressed by many of those present. The group agreed on additional sessions in order to refine the goals and solicit input from people across the Diocese.

Bishop Johnson told the group he envisions these discussions leading up to Diocesan Convention in October. “Convention itself should see today’s presentation” and would benefit from the results of future discernment, the Bishop said.

The May 16th meeting was the fourth Leadership Day this year, and the first in which the three groups met throughout as a single body focused on a single topic. Bishop Johnson introduced Leadership Days as a means of fostering shared responsibility and collegiality.

The next session is scheduled for Saturday, July 25, 2009, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Mt. Lebanon.

Dana Phillips, of St. Thomas Church, Oakmont, is a member of the Board of Trustees. She served as facilitator of the May 16 Leadership Day.

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