At the 233rd Convention of the Diocese of New Jersey in March 2017, Bishop Stokes called for a process of discernment around our call and ministry as a diocese. While this process was initially prompted by the sense of urgency around underfunding of our ministry, seen in the projected diocesan budget for 2018, it became clear that the source of our financial challenges was rooted in our understanding of our call to ministry together. A Steering Committee for Discerning Our Common Call was formed to lead a process of listening to and engaging stakeholders in our common ministry: lay and clergy, parishes and missions, staff and congregants, from all parts of the diocese.
The work of discernment took several forms in 2017: a series of open conversational forums with the Bishop, two Days of Discernment focusing on core values of the Diocese, a series of Charrettes focused on how we implement those values as budget priorities, and a Special Convention held in October 2017.  From the Forums, we learned that communications, community, formation, and youth and young adult ministry were areas of common and urgent concern to members of the diocese. The Days of Discernment highlighted a sense of shared values such as Collaboration/Communication, Evangelism, Formation/Discipleship, Inclusion, Justice, Outreach, Youth, and a sense of the centrality of our faith in Jesus as our highest core value.  The Charettes engaged participants in several brainstorming exercises around prioritizing ministry funding and new resource development, based on the core values.
In response to this process the Special Convention in October tasked the Finance and Budget Committee to consider the results of these conversations in preparing the 2018 budget, which will be presented to Convention in March 2018.
The Special Convention also called for the continuation of this work of discernment throughout the diocese and for the exploration of a capital campaign, and created two task forces: one to work on stable, long-term resourcing of the ministry of the diocese, and another to work on aligning the structure and financing of our diocese with the Anglican Marks of Mission . Those task forces have been appointed, following a diocesan-wide call for nominations, and are beginning their work in February 2018.
These task forces will work with the Discerning our Common Call Steering Committee, who will provide information and overall strategic vision to the task forces, and coordinate the recommendations of the task forces with the canonical bodies who carry out much of the ongoing work of leading our diocese. The Steering Committee also will continue to host conversations throughout the diocese around our values, priorities, and common life. Those conversations will start at our 234th Diocesan Convention March 2-3, 2018, in Cherry Hill, and will continue with a new series of Bishop’s Forums in April and May.
Please plan to be part of these conversations, at Convention or the Bishop’s Forums. Watch your email and this page for updates on the work of the task forces, and join the Discerning Our Common Call Facebook group or contact a member of the Steering Committee to bring your own thoughts and questions into the conversation at any time.
Be it resolved, That this Special Convention authorizes and requests the Bishop to create a task force to evaluate all resource and revenue options for effective long-term support for a secure, stable diocese, which task force will report and make recommendations to the 236th Annual Convention of the Diocese in 2020.
Task Force on Resources and Revenues
Thomas Esposito  (St. George’s-by-the-River, Rumson)
The Rev. Robert Fitzpatrick (St. Peter’s Church, Clarksboro)
Mary Flamer  (St. Luke’s Church, Ewing)
Valaida Wynn Guerrero  (St. Andrew’s Church, New Providence)
John Gundy  (St. Mark’s Church, Plainfield)
The Rev. Douglas C. Halvorsen  (pending call to Church of the Advent)
William Shorman  (Grace Church, Pemberton)
Be it resolved, That this Special Convention authorizes and requests the Bishop to create a task force to make recommendations to the 236th Annual Convention of the Diocese in 2020 to align our diocesan structures and budget to the Anglican Marks of Mission and to our understanding of ourselves as a missionary diocese.
Task Force on Mission, Budget and Structure
The Rev. Dr. Shawn A. Armington  (Trinity Cathedral, Trenton)
Brian Bussey  (St. Andrew’s Church, New Providence)
The Rev. Susanna P. Cates  (All Saints Church, Scotch Plains)
Rhonda Jackson  (Church of the Advent, Cape May)
The Rev. Benjamin B. Maddison  (Holy Trinity Church, Wenonah)
Leila Mello  (San Andres Church, Camden)
The Rev. Emily A. Mellott  (Trinity Church, Moorestown)
Veronica G. Tyson   (St. Thomas’ Church, Red Bank)