[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The Episcopal Church and the church-wide Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) staff are undergoing transitions to re-orient not only the work of the church-wide staff but also where that work will be conducted.
The transitions are primarily, but not completely, a result of actions approved at General Convention 2012 in July. Many are budget-based and most are intended to be responsive to the priorities established at General Convention.
“The decisions on the re-orientation and transitions were made by senior management, particularly in affected departments, working as a team,” noted Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls. “The overriding concern has been to make decisions that serve the church as a whole as it engages God’s mission at the most local levels.”
Sauls emphasized that the predominant focus is on a redesign. “We have been reviewing and talking about seriously redesigning what we, as a staff, do and how we do it in order to meet the needs of the church in different circumstances than what our current structures were designed to address,” he said. “The whole church is being called to restructure for mission. We as the DFMS staff must engage this work faithfully.”
Among the areas scrutinized by the senior management team, Sauls continued, are work responsibilities, parameters of the ministry offerings of a denominational headquarters, staff locations, and implementation of priorities of General Convention particularly around the Five Marks of Mission. The areas of focus at present are office locations, current staffing, and re-visioning the worked done by the church-wide staff.
In addition, Sauls is continuing talks with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on various mutual innovations, particularly in sharing staff and space. While staffing and office locations are being addressed first, there will be a further examination into other options, Sauls stressed, including joint mission efforts and initiatives.
The Office of Federal Ministries, located in Washington, D.C., already has moved to quarters on the grounds of Washington National Cathedral. This July move has resulted in rent reduction and decreases in other facility costs.
Sauls is working with the international real estate group Cushman & Wakefield to investigate office space for church-wide staff, as announced by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in June and subsequently endorsed by General Convention in July.
A lease arrangement is expected to be completed shortly for unused space on the sixth floor of the Church Center in New York City, thereby generating revenue for DFMS.
In the staffing areas, the senior management team is analyzing the reorientation of staff for optimum results and to more effectively address the church’s needs and priorities in mission.
“It is also imperative to fulfill the commitments made by the presiding bishop’s budget proposal to General Convention, which became the basis for the Five Marks of Mission budget which was approved, to reduce the size of the staff to keep as many resources as possible available at local levels,” Sauls said.
As such, the reduction in force (RIF) translates to the cutting of 10.25 full-time equivalent positions, five of which are unfilled. The remaining 5.25 full-time equivalent positions are located in the Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle offices. There also has been a redefining of some existing positions to better meet evolving needs and priorities. In a few cases, redefined jobs will no longer be held by existing staff members and a search process will begin for those positions with some jobs posted by Labor Day.
• Four departmental areas have been affected by the staffing reorientation: communication, human resources, legal and mission. These positions have been affected either by staff realignment, RIF, or a reduction in hours in the areas of congregational development, environment, Episcopal News Service, human resources, and legal.
• A creative arrangement with The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) provides for the DFMS officer for stewardship to transition to TENS as a staff member.
• The budget and resolutions adopted by General Convention have prompted a refocusing and rebuilding in domestic poverty work and the Development Office.
“This is an understandably difficult time for the members of the staff,” Sauls said.
“It is hard for us to say goodbye to people we care about and people who have served the church self-sacrificially over the years, something for which all of us in the church should be very grateful.”
Severance packages, marked both by responsibility and compassion, have been provided to departing staff including the offer of professional outplacement services. All staff affected by the transition were notified in person by their supervisors. All staff transitions will be completed by Aug. 29.