Video and Summary Notes from Jan. 4 Town Hall

Town Hall meetings with the Bishop are held the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. All are welcome. Register here.

Quick recap

The meeting covered updates on staff changes, clergy moves within the diocese, upcoming conventions, and events. Bishop French introduced new staff members and discussed the transition in staff roles. She also provided updates on various clergy moves and initiatives within the diocese, including ECS New Jersey and an upcoming MLK Jr. service. Furthermore, she highlighted financial assistance opportunities for anti-racism training sessions and the importance of creation care. The meeting concluded with a discussion on the process of ordination in the Diocese of New Jersey.

Christmas Joy and Upcoming Conventions

Bishop French, the presider, introduced the meeting’s agenda and shared their observations on the Christmas season, emphasizing the joy of reconnecting with congregations and the encouraging signs of church attendance. She also informed the group about an upcoming diocesan convention on March 9.

Convention Date Change, Staff Changes, and Interim Officer Introduction

Bishop French discussed the plans to change the convention date from spring to late November, allowing for a gathering in the fall to elect people to various positions. They also mentioned that the nominations process is still open for those interested in these positions. Bishop French then announced staff changes, including the appointment of Susanna Cates as the Canon for Formation and Vocations, Maria Sanzo as the Chaplain for Vocations, Anne Delgado as the quarter-time Missioner for Lifelong Christian Formation, and Clare Gutwein as the Missioner for Youth Ministry. Bishop French also mentioned that they are close to filling the Canon to the Ordinary Position. Lastly, she introduced Canon Joan Mason as the Interim Transitions Officer to manage transition processes for congregations.

Staff Transition and Roles Restructuring Meeting

The meeting discussed the transition in staff, particularly the departure of the interim office manager, Christine Briegs. Bishop French indicated that Christine’s contribution has strengthened their position to search for a permanent office manager. Phyllis further elaborated on the restructuring of staff roles, with a focus on database management and event management. They highlighted that the event management aspect has been transferred to John Conte, who has shown significant skills in hospitality and buildings and grounds management. Bishop French concluded by encouraging attendees to recommend potential candidates for the newly defined position and reminded them to schedule visitations or appointments through her Executive Assistant, Mirelle White.

Clergy Moves and Transitions in Diocese

Bishop French provided updates on several clergy moves within the diocese. Bishop French also shared that Deacon Tricia Thorne, the Executive Director of Episcopal Community Services of New Jersey, will be stepping down this summer due to her husband’s new job in Rhode Island.

ECS New Jersey’s Spring Plans and Upcoming Events

Bishop French initiated the discussion about ECS New Jersey and invited Trisha, the executive director, to share an update. Trisha shared her enthusiasm for the impactful plans they have for the spring, including a grant cycle and workshops aimed at community building. She also mentioned their plans for ECS Sunday in May. Following Trisha’s update, Deacon Clive Sang informed the group about the upcoming Jan. 14 MLK Jr. service, which will feature Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman as a guest speaker. He also invited choirs to participate in the music presentation. Clare then gave an update on youth ministry, mentioning an upcoming diocesan-wide event and a youth delegation going to General Convention. Lastly, Canon Karen Moore invited the group to participate in the anti-racism training sessions.

Financial Assistance, Training, and Updates

Karen announced the availability of financial assistance for the upcoming winter session and plans for a spring session and a fall session. She also mentioned an in-person session scheduled for two consecutive Saturdays in April at the Diocesan House. Registration links for these sessions are already available on their Web page. Bishop French highlighted the in-person training opportunity, aiming to reach those who find Zoom challenging. She also mentioned an upcoming diocesan confirmation service and listed other updates. The Very Rev. Caroline Carson then shared updates on the Global Goals Taskforce, the formation of a new Global Missions committee, and the Liberia project. She encouraged anyone interested in these initiatives to reach out to her.

Movie Premiere and Creation Care Initiative

Caroline announced the upcoming premiere of a movie titled “A Case for Love” on January 23rd. The film, which focuses on environmental issues and the need for love, peace, and civil discourse, may become available on streaming platforms if its theatrical release is strong enough. Caroline also mentioned that she is hosting a screening event in Freehold, New Jersey. Furthermore, she highlighted the importance of creation care, urging everyone to take steps towards sustainability, such as reducing plastic use and making better food choices. She mentioned that the next meeting of the Creation Care Committee will be held on January 23rd at 7:30 PM and urged everyone to attend.

Ordination Process and Information Sharing Concerns

Bishop French discussed the process of ordination in the Diocese of New Jersey, which was paused in July for restructuring. Bishop French expects the process to resume by the end of next month with a clearer timeline and structure. She also mentioned that she discovered many people who were in various stages of discernment but had not yet been in contact with the diocese, so a new process will be opened to allow them to apply.


Comments – Bishop French

    • Diocesan Convention: March 9. Nominations
    • Staff Changes – transitions, new positions
    • Visitations and appointments
    • Updates on Transitions – new clergy, clergy moves

ECS-NJ – Deacon Trisha Thorme

MLKjr Service – Deacon Clive Sang

Youth Ministry – Missioner Clare Gutwein

Anti-Racism Training – Canon Karen Moore

Diocesan Confirmation Service (Jan 20) – Canon Valerie Balling

Global Missions etc – Mother Caroline Carson

Creation Care – Mother Caroline Carson for Canon Barbie Bach

Forum – Other items, questions, concerns


Links Shared during Meeting

Nomination and full convention info

Full info on most recent staff changes is here

Office manager job posting

Email address of Mirelle White, bishop’s executive assistant

Deacon Clive Sang’s email address

Info about MLK Service Jan. 14 at Cathedral

Clare Gutwein’s email address

Registration and information for anti-racism training

Confirmation event info here

Caroline Carson’s email address

Canon James Yarsiah’s email address

Read more about the outreach to Liberia

United Thank Offering

“A Case for Love” film site