Staffing set for transition in Presiding Bishop's Office

October 18, 2006

Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori has designated transitional staffing for the Presiding Bishop's Office to begin November 1 with the start of her administration and the conclusion of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold's nine-year term.

Griswold's closest senior staff assistants, the Rev. Canon Carlson Gerdau and Barbara L. Braver -- together with Patricia C. Mordecai, chief operating officer and vice president of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society -- announced earlier this year their plans to retire. In addition, fellow senior Management Team member Bishop Arthur B. Williams Jr., director of ethnic congregational ministry, will retire January 12, as will Griswold's executive secretary, Sharon Tolley, effective November 1.

Gerdau, who has served since 1998 as Canon to the Primate and Presiding Bishop, has accepted Jefferts Schori's invitation to stay on "for a few months' time to assist with transitional matters," she said. Gerdau also served as canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Chicago, where Griswold was diocesan bishop from 1985 to 1997. A search for Gerdau's successor will be announced at a future time, Jefferts Schori said.

Mordecai, DFMS chief operating officer for the past eight years, expects to retire to Maine December 31, after more than 30 years of service in church administration. Her career also included professional assignments in the dioceses of Massachusetts and Washington. Mordecai's retirement date will be coordinated with the task of providing her successor a complete orientation to all aspects of DFMS operations, including its $150 million triennial budget, and the 200-plus-member staff at the Church Center.

A search committee continues its work to identify Mordecai's successor. A "short list" of finalists has been identified, and interviews will soon be scheduled. Church canons call for the selected candidate to be confirmed by Executive Council, which is expected to take up the matter at its November 12-15 meeting in Chicago.

The eight-member search committee is chaired by the Rev. Canon Robert M. Nelson Jr., a former U.S. Energy Department executive who is canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Nevada where Jefferts Schori has served as bishop since 2001. Nelson has accepted Jefferts Schori's invitation to assist her as a consultant in organizational structure as she "becomes more familiar with the systems in place, and the opportunities for future development."

For the past 18 years, Braver has served as assistant to the Presiding Bishop for Communication, staffing both Griswold and his predecessor, Edmond L. Browning. Braver was previously director of communication for the Diocese of Massachusetts, where she resides in Gloucester. Braver's retirement will coincide with the early-November departure of Griswold and his wife, Phoebe, from the Presiding Bishop's Office and family residence at the Church Center. Through the transition, Jefferts Schori has asked that the media relations aspect of Braver's portfolio be taken up by the Office of Communication at the Episcopal Church Center.

Other members of the current senior Management Team continuing in place through the transition are the Rev. Dr. Gregory Straub, executive officer of the General Convention; N. Kurt Barnes, treasurer and chief financial officer of the DFMS and the General Convention; the Rev. Dr. James B. Lemler, director of mission; and Canon Robert Williams, director of communication.

Lemler will work closely with the four missioners for ethnic congregational development to achieve a smooth transition around the January retirement of their supervisor, Bishop Arthur Williams, who is the retired Bishop Suffragan of Ohio and a past vice president of the House of Bishops. He has served on the Church Center management team since 2003. Further consultation with these staff colleagues will determine how best to support this strategic work in the future, Jefferts Schori said.

Also continuing in the Presiding Bishop's Office is Bishop F. Clayton Matthews, who directs the Office of Pastoral Development, and whose portfolio has grown in recent years. Jefferts Schori said she expects to review and revise Matthews' position to reflect more completely its current responsibilities.

Both Jefferts Schori and Griswold have expressed their appreciation for the extensive contributions of both the retiring and continuing members of the Management Team and Presiding Bishop's Office staff.

Upon his retirement as 25th Presiding Bishop, Griswold, 69, plans to continue a public ministry of teaching and writing. ENS plans a future story on his upcoming pursuits.

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