The Rev. Rosemari G. Sullivan, executive officer and secretary of the Episcopal Church's General Convention for the past six years, resigned November 15 to take the position of director of alumni/ae affairs at the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), beginning in early 2005.
"The opportunity ... has come at the time in the cycle of our General Convention when I believe the systems and staff are in place to move forward to the 75th General Convention," Sullivan said in her resignation letter to Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and Dean George Werner, president of the House of Deputies. "In our family life it is time to return to Virginia and in my personal journey it is an exciting opportunity to serve another dimension of the life of the Church we love." Sullivan is a 1985 graduate of VTS.
The executive officer of General Convention is jointly appointed by the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies. The secretary of General Convention is first elected secretary of the House of Deputies; the two houses then concur that the person so elected is also Secretary of General Convention.
In a letter to the members of Executive Council, Griswold and Werner expressed "mixed feelings" about the change.
"Rosemari Sullivan, as we can all attest, has done a superb job in re-ordering and rationalizing vast areas of our corporate life and governance," the letter stated. "Not only that, she has been a much valued colleague and source of wisdom over the years that she has served. She has been a gift to us all, certainly including the staff at the Episcopal Church Center, and we will sorely miss her. Our sadness is overridden by the deep gratitude we have for her clarity and her tireless efforts to make the legislative and governance structures of the church revelatory of the gospel. Her departure will be keenly felt.
"At the same time, we share her joy knowing that Rosemari has made great personal sacrifices to work in New York while living in Virginia. Her new position at Virginia Seminary will allow her to be more present to her family, particularly the beloved grandchildren, Jack and Ellie, about whom we have heard many tales. It will also afford her a new opportunity to use her many gifts in the service of an institution which has played a very important role in her life."
"I have had many colleagues and mentors over the years, but none has been finer than Rosemari Sullivan," said Werner. "Wrapped around her deep spirituality and Benedictine Discipline, are gifts of brilliance, vision, courage, leadership and a delicious sense of humor. I am pleased she will continue to be a leader of our Church and will lend her gifts to an exciting and thriving seminary. She leaves behind an outstanding and professional staff who will be a great help to our new Executive Officer."
Werner said that he and Griswold would begin "a thorough search for her successor as soon as possible."
"Rosemari's wealth of experience and unique gifts will enable the seminary to expand its continuing commitment to clergy and congregations here in the United States and throughout the Anglican Communion," said Dean Martha Horne, president of VTS. "We are excited about her return to the seminary community and the insights and energy she will bring to this position."
Prior to her years at the Episcopal Church Center, Sullivan was associate rector of Grace Church and rector of St. Clement's, both in Alexandria, Virginia. She is also a canon of the Diocese of Colombia at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Bogota.