Episcopal Church Center to initiate project-based, goal-oriented structure

October 22, 2009

The Episcopal Church Center is gearing up for a new project-based, goal-oriented strategic model following deep budget cuts that resulted in staff reductions and reconfigurations, according to an October 22 press release from the Office of Public Affairs.

Chief Operating Officer Linda Watt presented the new structure -- which calls for a Department of Mission, including five program-based mission teams and two specialized ministries -- to Executive Council at its October meeting.

"We use our expertise and experience to support the dioceses and the networks of the church in their ministries," Watt said. "We are the empowered servants who seek to enable the work of others through resources, strengthening of networks and affinity groups, and lifting up best practices."

General Convention adopted a $141 million budget for 2010-2012 that called for cuts in most areas, resulting in staff reductions across program, canonical and corporate areas. Approximately 40 staff positions were either eliminated or reduced.

"The changes brought about by General Convention 2009, although deeply challenging, are also an invitation to further the re-visioning and re-inventing begun two years ago," Watt added. "The journey is difficult, but we are working our way through the challenges and looking ahead."

The new model

In the new model, the Department of Mission will be led by a team of two directors: Antoinette (Toni) Daniels and the Rev. Margaret R. Rose. Both Daniels and Rose have served as center directors since early 2008.

The department's five program-based mission teams and the two specialized ministries will be led by a team leader.

The mission teams are: Global Partnerships; Diocesan and Congregational Life; Lifelong Christian Formation; Ethnic, Multicultural, Social and Environmental Witness; and Government Advocacy for Peace and Justice.

The specialized ministries are Episcopal Migration Ministries and Federal Ministries/Chaplaincies.

Staff members across teams, other church center departments, and associated agencies and groups will participate in project working groups, organized around topical issues and initiatives.

"The project working groups will draw from the expertise of multiple staff members," Watt said. "Some will be short-term, such as Lenten resources, and others will be ongoing, like women's empowerment.

"It's important to note that the design of this new system was staff-driven. Many staff members participated in the discussion and preparation of this model."

Goals

With project work as the main focus, goals for the new configuration include: accountability; cross-functional collaboration among program ministries; focus on work appropriate to the churchwide level; commitment to strengthen networks throughout the church; and renewed responsiveness to the priorities of the church's governing bodies.

Other cost-cutting measures

Watt also cited cost-cutting measures that are underway throughout the church center, including a reduction in staff travel; greater use of technology; forming a peer review process for events; reducing overhead expenses; contracting with a new café vendor; and consolidating functions, i.e., folding the mailroom operation into Episcopal Books and Resources.

Work processes in non-program areas are being re-thought as staff reductions are implemented, she said.

Watt also acknowledged the diversity of the church center's staff. "We are clergy and laity, Episcopalians and not," she said. "We are all committed to the work of the church."

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