Over the past six months, the Council of Advice and the Bishop have together been undertaking a process known as a “Mutual Ministry Review.”
All clergy in the Convocation, as a part of their letters of agreement, agree to take part in this process, typically at least every three years; the bishop invited the Council to take part in this with him at the one-year mark of his ministry as the Convocation’s bishop. Only the elected Council of Advice members and the Bishop were part of the MMR.
A Mutual Ministry Review is not, importantly, a performance review, in the way that phrase has been given meaning by Human Resources departments. Instead, it begins from the understanding that governance in our church is shared between those in ordained roles of leadership (like the bishop, or a rector or vicar) and a body elected to guide the work of the church (the Council of Advice, or a Vestry). It’s an opportunity to receive feedback from the clergy and congregations the Convocation serves, to raise up areas that need attention and identify potential ways of working that might bring about better results.
The Reverend Linda Grenz, former Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Rhode Island, led the process for us. She sought and received input from a wide range of clergy and wardens of congregations, as well as committee and commission chairs, and provided the bishop and Council together with a report identifying things that are going well — and things that might be approached differently.
There was general agreement that the year of transition has gone well, and that a feeling of anticipation and excitement is at work in the Convocation. The survey participants also felt that the bishop and Council of Advice are working together well and effectively.
At the same time, there is some lack of clarity about just what the Council of Advice does, and—because of our unique structure—about the relationship of the bishop to the governing structures of the Convocation.
The bishop and Council first reviewed the results at their regular meeting at the beginning of September and then looked at the many concrete proposals, ideas and concerns at a special meeting on Wednesday of this week.
One thing many wardens appreciated during the “lockdown” were the regular meetings as a group with the bishop and parochial clergy, and it was agreed to continue with this practice. It was agreed that a communications plan will be put in place to share more widely the outcomes of Council meetings, and specific measures decided on by the members of Council. We also took on board other constructive criticisms about some of our communication instruments and practices. There were many suggestions concerning individual committees and commissions, and they have been passed on for review and possible adoption.
We were also grateful for the respondents’ thoughts on our mission and vision, and these, together with a number of issues that people felt need addressing in a new strategic planning exercise will be picked up and followed through on after our annual Convention.
Last, and certainly not least, the bishop and Council are also examining together how to divide their work to more clearly delineate the many functions our Council plays—that of a Standing Committee, that of a Diocesan Council, and that of a Council of Advice to the bishop.
The Rt. Rev. Mark D. W. Edington
Bishop in Charge
The Rev. Christopher Easthill
President of the Council of Advice