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Bishop and diocesan team begin year of learning and formation

by The Rev. Canon Patrick Funston

Bishop Bascom and a team of Kansas leaders have joined dioceses around The Episcopal Church in a year of leadership and project coaching facilitated by the Episcopal Church Foundation and the Lily Endowment through the Diocesan Leadership Initiative (DLI). The Episcopal Church Foundation describes the DLI as “an intensive, holistic experience for bishops (and their leadership teams) who are committed to exploring and implementing new, innovative, and sustainable models of diocesan and congregational ministry for the church of today, and, more importantly, the church of tomorrow. Potential bishop participants have been selected based on their demonstrated entrepreneurial leadership, openness to change, and capacity to propose and implement new, innovative models of diocesan and congregational ministry. Funded by the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) through a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. pursuant to its National Initiative to Address the Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders, DLI is a collaborative effort of ECF, the Church Pension Group, the College for Bishops, and the Office of Pastoral Development.”

Bishop Bascom was initially invited to the DLI in November 2020, and the Episcopal Church Foundation asked bishops to put together a team made up of “one senior staff person (e.g., Canon to the Ordinary), one key rector, and one key lay leader.” At that time, the Bishop and Canon to the Ordinary Patrick Funston imagined that a focus for the work of the team might be the diocesan Minster Project, which at that time was only a year old. To pursue that work, the bishop invited two additional participants with pertinent experience and perspective to join her and Canon Funston:

  • The Reverend Casey Rohleder, President of the Council of Trustees, Rector of St. Luke’s, Wamego, and Shepherd of the Tallgrass Minster
  • Mr. Ryan Patrick, Vestry Member at Good Shepherd, Wichita and a founding member of the Wichita Minster Mission Commission (since his initial appointment to the DLI team, Mr. Patrick has become Senior Warden of Good Shepherd)

The initial plan for the DLI included initial Zoom meetings leading to an in-person event in September 2021. However, complications surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Episcopal Church Foundation to move the in-person event to Zoom and then to postpone it.

The work of the Diocesan Leadership Initiative didn’t begin in earnest until the kick-off event was rescheduled to February 2022. The four team members of the Kansas team gathered with teams from around The Episcopal Church on Zoom for three days of formation on entrepreneurial leadership through culture change.

DLI funding has allowed the team to engage the coaching services of the Rev. Dr. Youngsook Kang, a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation. Dr. Kang has worked as an executive for the United Methodist global mission agency in New York and as a regional judicatory leader in the Rocky Mountain region. Dr. Kang will work with the Kansas team at least through February 2023 when the postponed year of the Diocesan Leadership Initiative comes to an end.

Initial meetings of the DLI team have come at a time when the scope of the work has needed to shift. When the team was initially formed, Bishop Bascom intended their work to focus on reflecting on the first years of the Minster concept and developing it for its next cycle. However, the ongoing delays of the DLI mean that necessary work has shifted to the Council of Trustees. The DLI team is currently establishing a covenant for working together and brainstorming its possible scope considering these realities. Members of the Diocese of Kansas can expect to hear more about the work of the DLI team over the course of this year.

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