Highlights and Recording of Feb. 1 Town Hall

Recording of the Lay Leaders Town Hall of  Feb 1

All lay people in the diocese are welcome to attend this Town Hall with Bishop French and leaders from around the state. Register here to receive the link for the Zoom meeting held the first Thursday of each month

Meeting Summary for Lay Leaders Town Hall Meeting with Bishop French


  • Diocesan Convention: March 9.
  • Pre-Convention Hearings
    • Saturday, February 3, 5-6pm, zoom
    • Sunday, February 11, 3:30-4:30pm, zoom
    • Monday, February 12, 7-8pm, zoom
    • Sunday, February 18, 5-6pm, in person @Trinity Cathedral
  • Staff Changes—New Positions: Canon to the Ordinary, Office and Convention Manager
  • Visitations and appointments

Bishop out for College for Bishops Monday-Thursday next week

    • Episcopal Church—upcoming events
    • Anglican Communion
    • congregations moving from full time to ¾ or similar

ECS-NJ Grant processes—Dr Nina Dixon

Absalom Jones Service—Deacon Clive Sang

Youth Ministry—Missioner Clare Gutwein

Anti-Racism Training—Canon Karen Moore

Diocesan Confirmation Services (New Date—Feb 3; May 18)

Ash Wednesday—Steve Welch

Forum—Other items, questions, concerns



Quick recap

Bishop Sally French led the meeting, discussing the significance of the upcoming Feast of the Presentation and the scheduling of a clergy Town Hall and a lay leaders Town Hall. She also discussed the planning for the upcoming diocesan convention scheduled for March 9th, 2023, and the possibility of reducing the number of conventions in the future. Other topics included the appointment of two new staff members, potential changes in the full-time clergy model, and updates on grants and training programs. The meeting concluded with a prayer service.

Candlemas Significance and Town Hall Meetings

Bishop French led the meeting and discussed the significance of the upcoming feast of the presentation, also known as Candlemas, particularly among Spanish speaking congregations. She also mentioned a clergy Town Hall and a lay leaders Town Hall scheduled for the same day.

Diocesan Convention Planning and Future Changes

Sally French discussed the planning for the upcoming diocesan convention scheduled for March 9th, 2023, and the possibility of reducing the number of conventions in the future. She mentioned that the convention will focus on regular business matters like revisiting the budget, electing people to different positions, and revising the constitution and canons. A significant change being considered is moving the convention date from March to the Saturday before Thanksgiving in November. Pre-convention hearings were also discussed to be held on February 3rd, 11th, and 18th. Phyllis Jones discussed the timeline for the resolutions and constitutional changes, highlighting the importance of input before the committee’s final draft meeting on February 10th.

New Staff Appointments in Diocese

Sally French announced the appointment of two new staff members to the diocese. Susanna Cates started her first full-time day as the Canon for Formation and Vocations, and Steve Connor, the current Rector of Holy Trinity Ocean City, was appointed as Canon to the Ordinary for Mission, beginning March 1st. Additionally, Sarah Paige, a former office manager and controller for the diocese, is returning to serve in a similar role, helping to fill gaps left by previous staff changes.

Diocese Visitation Challenges and Plans

Bishop French discussed the challenges and plans related to visitations within the large diocese is part of in the Episcopal Church. She mentioned that due to Covid-19, there are 43 overdue visitations, which she plans to catch up on. She also encouraged congregations to reach out if they feel they are overdue for a visitation, and suggested non-traditional times for visitations. Additionally, the bishop mentioned that she will be attending a new Bishop training program and that the House of Bishops will be gathering at the end of March. Lastly, she shared about the upcoming Lambeth Conference webinars focused on Anglican identity.

Church Clergy Model Transition Discussed

Bishop French discussed the potential changes in the full-time clergy model within church communities and congregations. She highlighted the need to adapt to demographic and participation patterns shifts and emphasized the potential for part-time or 3/4 time roles. The Bishop also stressed the importance of collaboration between congregations, especially in areas where one can fulfill the needs of another. She emphasized the importance of anticipating these changes and planning ahead to support the evolving needs of the church community. Bob Litsinger shared his experience of transitioning from two priests to one in his congregation, stressing the importance of congregational involvement. Lisa M. LaGreca raised questions about potential changes to the priest’s role and benefits, to which Bishop French responded that they are committed to preserving full-time positions where possible through partnerships with other congregations. Sally also stressed the importance of ensuring that clergy can support themselves financially.

Grant Process Changes and Upcoming Events

Bishop French and Lisa M. LaGreca started the discussion, with the Bishop highlighting some unprecedented topics. Rosina Dixon then took the floor to announce changes in the ECS New Jersey grant processes. She explained that grants should now address two objectives, including human need and underserved and marginalized communities, and engaging with other organizations. The grant cycle was also changed from twice a year to once a year, with more support for the application process and during the grant period. Potential grantees are required to send a letter of intent by April, with the final deadline being September 6. Rosina Dixon also mentioned the possibility of two years of funding, but no one can get more than two grants in any five-year period. The grant recipients will be required to submit two written reports semi-annually and attend two in-person check-ins. Rosina Dixon also announced the upcoming spring summit on April 25 and a companion workshop in May.

Anti-Racism Training and Reparations Discussion

Bishop French announced the departure of Deacon Tricia Thorme, the executive director for ECS New Jersey, due to a move. She also mentioned the upcoming Absalom Jones service, an annual event celebrating the ministry of Absalom Jones, to take place at the cathedral on February 18th at 3 PM. Wendy Blackman introduced a new anti-racism training workshop and Barbie Bach discussed upcoming training programs in April through May and September through October. Sally French emphasized the importance of anti-racism training and its requirement for lay leaders, diocesan council members, and new clergy. Barbie Bach then discussed the diocese’s work on reparations, including a resolution passed three years ago, a forthcoming service on Ash Wednesday, and plans for a webinar and another service in March. She also mentioned the Reparations Commission proposing two resolutions at the Diocesan Convention and a push for a reparations task force bill in the New Jersey State Legislature. Barbie Bach also discussed the urgency of creation care and her plans to involve the youth in this initiative. Bishop French shared updates on the diocesan confirmation services, which were postponed due to inclement weather and have now been rescheduled. She encouraged clergy to reach out to those in need of confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church.

Episcopal Ministry and Political Division Discussion

Bishop French initiated a discussion about the current political division and emphasized the importance of compassion, generosity, collaboration, and connection. Wendy Blackman inquired about any special theme, to which Sally responded affirming the ongoing call for gospel justice. Susan Blauvelt then read a prayer for unity from the 1662 Prayer Book, emphasizing the need for unity and overcoming divisions. Rhonda Jackson asked if there were any collaborative activities planned between churches during Lent. Bishop French acknowledged that while they haven’t compiled a list of such activities, there are several churches working together on initiatives such as Lenten study programs and shared services. Lisa M. LaGreca shared that St. Mary’s in Stone Harbor would be collaborating with Saint Barnabas for Ash Wednesday and that their Easter visual would involve Saint Mary’s and Saint Saviance. Wendy Blackman then read a prayer for Black History Month, emphasizing the importance of self-determination and recognizing the dignity of people of color. Bishop French initiated a prayer service and requested Susan Blauvelt to be the voice for the parts printed in italics in the service.

Next steps

Attend the preconvention hearings on February 3rd, 11th, 12th, and 18th.

Sally will work on catching up with overdue visitations and consider non-traditional times for visitations.

Congregations should consider partnering with neighboring congregations if they are struggling.