Standing Committee 2022 Report
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 collaborating with the bishop to maximize the smooth governance of the diocese.
- Sharing oversight of the work of Diocesan Institutions with Bishop Marc.
- 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.
- With Bishop Marc, following and consenting to any changes in the properties of the diocese, including our congregations.
- In a time of transition, responsibility for a Search and Transition process and establishing Compensation for the retiring and new bishops.
The members of the 2021-2022 Standing Committee are:
The Rev. Dr. Deborah White, Clergy Order, Class of 2022, President
Ms. Noreen Huey, Lay Order, Class of 2022, Vice-President
The Rev. Todd Bryant, Clergy Order, Class of 2023, Secretary
Mr. Warren Wong, Lay Order, Class of 2023
Ms. Robyn Amos, Lay Order, Class of 2024
The Rev. Mauricio Wilson, Clergy Order, Class of 2024
Mr. Sean McConnell, Lay Order, Class of 2025
The Rev. Carolyn Bolton, Clergy Order, Class of 2025
We are proud to note that for the first time in the history of The Diocese of California the majority of the members of the current Standing Committee are people of color.
We were sorry to lose our brother Andrew Han, who found it necessary to resign from Standing Committee this spring. We were delighted, however, to tap Warren Wong to step in to fill his position until the election of Standing Committee members at Convention. Warren has agreed to stand for election for the spot he has been filling.
The 2022 Standing Committee has worked very hard this year. In addition to our canonically prescribed responsibilities, we collaborated with Bishop Marc on several initiatives designed to assist congregational leaders with their work.
In the latter part of this term, The Standing Committee began working on the upcoming diocesan transition.
Regarding the ongoing work of The Standing Committee:
We consented to the ordination to the priesthood of Stephen Siptroth. We consented to the candidacies of Laura Natta and Mees Tielens.
We consented to the ordinations to the diaconate of Miguel Bustos and Stephen Tiffenson.
We worked with the bishop, vocations office, and Commission on Ministry to make needed changes in the ordination process for vocational deacons and move ordinations for all candidates to an earlier point in the ordination process in order to make them more competitive for employment positions.
The President of the Standing Committee and Chair of Executive Council met regularly and collaborated to assist congregational leaders with personnel and human relations’ concerns. The Standing Committee also remained abreast of the Executive Council’s decisions regarding the diocesan budget.
We furthered the work begun by Canon Abbott on diocesan organization, including working with Bishop Marc to consider changes to the diocesan staffing/leadership structure.
We tasked the Governance Committee with providing recommendations for the implementation of the work of the Bishop’s Task Force on Diocesan Leadership to improve elected leadership in the diocese, including recruitment, nominations, onboarding, and communications.
We consented to the following:
- license agreements for St. Aidan’s San Francisco, Transfiguration San Mateo, and St. Bartholomew’s, Livermore
- lease agreements for St. Peter’s Redwood City, St. Cyprian’s San Francisco, Christ Church Los Altos, Christ Church Alameda, Trinity Menlo Park, Bishop’s Ranch, and Christ Church Sei Ko Kai
- a lot line adjustment for St. Stephen’s, Orinda
- The sale of St. Cuthbert’s, San Francisco
- The sale and transfer of property and a ground lease for Berkeley Canterbury and a ground lease for All Soul’s Berkeley
We received updates on proposed property changes at the new Holy Spirit Church and The Bluebird project in Contra Costa County.
We consented to the change in status of Christ the Lord, Pinole from parish to mission.
We followed the work of the General Convention and integrated its relevant decisions into the work of the Diocese of California.
Sadly, we consented to the release from ordination vows of two clergy persons.
We assisted Bishop Marc in considering best ways to assist vulnerable congregations and supporting growth initiatives in all congregations.
We consented to the episcopal elections in the dioceses of Dallas, South Carolina, Nevada, West Virginia, Ecuador, Southwest Florida, Louisiana, Utah, Connecticut, and Virginia. We consulted with our Province VIII Standing Committee colleagues regarding the episcopal election in the Diocese of Springfield. We remained abreast of an episcopal election controversy in the Diocese of Florida.
To address concerns about the diocesan nominations process, we formed and supervised the Bishop’s Task Force on Diocesan Leadership. One recommendation from that group was immediately implemented (for the Executive Council, Standing Committee, and General Convention deputation to choose candidates for nomination for their committees).
The Standing Committee was represented at all Grace Cathedral Board meetings and its primary fundraiser, Carnivale, this year. We spoke for the interests of the diocese in the work of the Cathedral and provided input on several significant Cathedral concerns.
We completed a four-year effort to develop clearer and closer relationships with our Diocesan Institutions. To that end, we met with representatives from The Bishop’s Ranch and Berkeley Canterbury. As of this date, the Standing Committee has made all our diocesan institutions about their canonical responsibilities to the diocese and approved their by-laws and boards. We have meetings scheduled with the two remaining institutions with whom we have not met. We are most grateful for the work of The Rev. Dr. Michael Barham, who has served as the Diocesan Liaison for Institutions, a position jointly supervised by the Bishop and the Standing Committee. Outgoing Standing Committee President, The Rev. Dr. Deborah White, will assume that role moving forward.
Happily, we voted to recommend, along with Bishop Marc, that Braid Mission become a diocesan institution and we approved his board members.
This area of our work only occurs during a diocesan transition. We are currently educating ourselves about our role in decisions about the 9th bishop’s salary package.
As we have moved out of the pandemic, we have had to take stock of its emotional and spiritual costs. Church attendance has declined across almost all our congregations, and it has been necessary for our congregational leadership to find new and innovative ways to be church. The Standing Committee has demonstrated our concern for the congregations of the diocese in several ways. Primarily, as Bishop Marc’s council of advice we have attempted to consider various solutions to declining membership and financial instability in several of our congregations. We are very grateful that Bishop Marc continues to seek and respond to our counsel with thoughtfulness and gratitude, treating us as equal partners in looking toward the future of the diocese. Together we:
- Created and supervised the work of The Bishop’s Task Force on Diocesan Leadership. This group researched and created a comprehensive and solution-focused report which addressed 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 also provided the Bishop and Standing Committee with valuable suggestions about improving communication in the diocese.
- Immediately implemented one of the suggestions of the task force to encourage the Executive Council, Standing Committee, and General Convention Deputation to seek out and nominate qualified individuals for their committees. This effort appears to have proven fruitful.
- Upon hearing of Bishop Marc’s decision to retire, we began working to put a transparent and effective search process in place. Together, Bishop Marc and the Standing Committee determined the timeline for his resignation and how we would break the news of his retirement to the diocesan community. Since the bishop’s announcement in July, the Standing Committee has selected the extremely competent and faithful Co-Chairs of the Search and Transition Committee, Brenda Paulin and Paul Fromberg. We have worked in tandem with them to create a search website, select the members of the Search and Transition team, and begin the process of gathering the thoughts, ideas, concerns, and dreams that will help all of you choose our next bishop. Throughout, we have worked to establish a pattern of transparent and authentic communication with all of the members of the diocese.
I often remark that Episcopal polity can be difficult to explain and that the Standing Committee’s role in diocesan governance seems particularly confusing to many people. I hope that this report allows you to better understand our work and to consider ways in which you can be involved in it. We continue to attempt to increase our visibility and accessibility. Our minutes are posted on the diocesan website (https://www.diocal.org/governance/standing-committee). We can be reached easily by email (email@example.com). We would love to hear your questions and opinions.
We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Executive Council, the Rev. Canon Debbie, Chancellor Christopher Hayes, the Staff at DioHouse, Secretary Brother Richard Edward Helmer, our forever companion The Reverend Michael Barham, Governance Chair Pam Jester, Search and Transition Co-Chairs Brenda Paulin and Paul Fromberg, all of the members of the various committees of the diocese, and all our family members in the beloved community that is DioCal. I am personally grateful to the faithful and generous members of the Standing Committee with whom I have had the privilege to serve: The Rev. Jill Honodel, Andrew Lee, The Rev. Michael Barham, Dorothy Tsuruta, The Rev. Pam Jester, Albe Larsen, Andrew Han, and my current colleagues, The Rev. Carolyn Bolton, Sean McConnell, The Rev. Dr. Mauricio Wilson, Robyn Amos, The Rev. Todd Bryant, Warren Wong, and, most importantly and with tremendous thanks, Noreen Huey and The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus. You are a blessing to this diocese.
The Rev. Deborah White, Ph.D.
Standing Committee, 2020-2022