Contents — December 2017

Spirit Volume 9, Issue 3.

In This Issue

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Editor’s Letter

What Happens At Convention Doesn't Have To Stay At Convention

Five-minute read. Why you should read about the diocesan convention and take an active role in the decision-making process.  Read More 

Keeping Watch

Called In. Sent Out.

Eight-minute read. Bishop Marty sets out his vision for the work of the diocese over the next year — Building a Community of Purpose.    Read More 


An Advent Meditation

Five-minute read. What is the meaning of Advent?  Read More 

Convention Digest

Eight-minute read. A digest of events that took place and the official actions of the 2017 diocesan convention.  Read More 

Work Group Reports — Finance Team

One-minute read (unless you follow the links and study the budget!) A report on the work of the Finance Team.  Read More 

Work Group Reports — Goals Team

Five-minute read. A report from the Diocesan Council Goals Team. Read More 

Work Group Reports — Metrics Team

Five-minute read. The Metrics Team spotlights how Episcopal churches are changing and being challenged in West Missouri, and looks at how we can measure performance against our goals.  Read More 

Work Group Reports — Tools Team

Five-minute read. Our goal is to give people the feeling that we are one “parish of the whole” by expanding our interests, experiences, information, and Christian formation to lead us to increased interaction within the diocese. Read More 

Reflections on the Diocesan Convention

Five-minute read. A story of the mixed emotions encountered during the diocesan convention.  Read More 

Book Review: “Do This, Remembering Me”

One-minute read. This is a great book and every clergy person should read, mark and inwardly digest the wisdom that Colette Bachand-Wood has so succinctly shared with her readers.  Read More 


St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Independence — 50th Anniversary

One-minute read. It was a grand day. We invited folks from far and wide — really anyone who had ever been touched by the life, history, and ministry of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church ...   Read More 

St. Augustine's 135th Anniversary (1882-2017)

Five-minute read. On October 22, 2016, Edward L. Warner 3rd Rector of Saint Augustine’s Church spoke at the 135th anniversary of the church. The program included liturgical dancers and Choristers from the William Baker Festival Singers. Read More 

Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking Coalition Makes Plans to Begin a Safe House

Five-minute read. The Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking Coalition is now ready to pursue the second part of the dream they had at their founding: that of developing a safe house for women who have been trafficked.  Read More 

Area Confirmations at St. John's, Springfield

One-minute read. At an Area Confirmation service held in October members of St. John's and Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield were confirmed. Read More 

Area Confirmations at St. Mary's, Kansas City

One-minute read. At an Area Confirmation service held in November members of St. Mary's, Kansas City; Church of the Resurrection, Blue Springs; Church of the Good Shepherd, Kansas City and Trinity, Independence took part. Read More 

Ordinations at the Diocesan Convention Eucharist

Ten-minute read. On the Evening of December 3, 2017, during the diocesan convention Eucharist service, Fr. Jonathan Callison was received into the Episcopal Church, and Larry Ehren and Kary (Karen) Mann were ordained into the diaconate. Read More 

Diocesan Youth Gathering and the 2017 Bishop's Ball

Five-minute read. What does the birth of Jesus mean to you? What was it like to be a disciple? How can we relate Jesus’ miracles to life today? What was it like to be there when Jesus was nailed to the cross? This year youth and volunteers sought to answer some of these questions at the Diocesan Youth Gathering. Read More 

Bishop's Shield Recipient - Duchess Wall

Five-minute read. Each year a special award is given to volunteers from around our diocese who have contributed significant and sustained leadership for which they were not compensated. Read about this year's recipient ... Read More 

Installation of Fr. Jos Tharakan at St. James', Springfield

Five-minute read. Pictures of Fr. Jos' Installation, and he's written about himself, so that you can read about St. James' new rector. Read More 

Installation of Fr. Jim Lile at All saints', Nevada

One-minute read. Pictures of Fr. Jim's Installation at All Saints' Nevada. Read More 


Bishop Spencer Place

Bishop Spencer Place, an exceptional place in the heart of it all.  Read More 


How to contact us, submit articles & pictures  About Spirit 


A directory of all the churches in the diocese  Directory 

What Happens At Convention Doesn’t Have To Stay At Convention

Gary Allman Five-minute read.   Resources

Bishop Marty (probably ill-advisedly) called on the rather rumpled looking Communications Director to speak. Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

As you’d expect, this post-convention issue of Spirit has several articles about the diocesan convention and the ongoing work and planning to improve, build, and fund the ‘Episcopal Branch of The Jesus Movement in West Missouri’ aka The Diocese of West Missouri.

Some of the Diocesan Staff Working Behind the Scenes at Convention L-R Gary Allman, Communications Director. Emily Davenport, Bishop’s Executive Assistant. Angela Crawford, Events-Communications Assistant. Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

For many people, the workings of convention and the diocese (and even the necessity of the diocesan structure) remains something of a mystery.  While things keep going and ‘Church happens’ every Sunday it’s easy to metaphorically snooze in the back pews and ignore the details and workings of ‘The Church’ beyond one’s own church’s horizon. Until, that is, something happens, a change in direction or an unexpected decision impacts your favorite ministry. Such things may appear to come as a bolt from the blue, but that’s far from the truth. There are discussions, meetings, proposals, counter-proposals and voting. The majority of the initiatives originate at a deanery or council level, from the representatives that you elect at your church’s annual meeting. Have you ever asked your deanery representative, or diocesan convention delegate what they do, what’s discussed? In an ideal world, they will report back to you via your church’s newsletter or magazine. Unfortunately, your often hard-pressed volunteers don’t have time to do so.

I believe it is worth investing your time to find out more about how we in The Episcopal Church manage ourselves, and how and why things change.  This is especially relevant next year as in July the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church takes place in Austin Texas.  It’s far too easy to complain about this or that decision after the event, but what about making sure you prime your various representatives on your thoughts, so that they can better represent you before decisions and votes are taken? Needless to say, one way to find out what’s going on within the 48 churches that makes up the diocese is to read the summaries of the diocesan convention and the findings to-date of the Council Work Groups, and whether you agree or disagree, contact your church’s representatives and make your voice heard.

Each diocesan convention and the following year has a theme. For the past five years, the theme has centered around our five baptismal covenants. This year, Bishop Marty introduced the theme: “Called in. Sent out. Building a Community of Purpose.” This concept builds on the work leading up to the Presiding Bishop’s visit last May and looks to build and consolidate the work of the diocese as a parish in its own right. You can read more about Bishop Marty’s vision here.

Convention is not all facts, figures, and discussion. Mike McDonnell (St. George, Camdenton) brings a very personal look at the proceedings, which includes the wonderfully honest phrase “absolutely mind-numbingly excruciating”. You’ll have to read his article to find out what he was referring to and discover the deep emotions that were stirred.

One of the great things about being Communications Director is the privilege of being present and able to help document key transitions in the lives of the people of West Missouri. In the run-up to the diocesan convention, I attended two area confirmation services. The first was at St. John’s, Springfield, and the second was at St. Mary’s, Kansas City. Then in early December, I was present when Fr. Jos Tharakan was installed as Rector at St. James’ Springfield, and two days later at All Saints’, Nevada when Fr. Jim Lyle was installed as Rector. Unfortunately, I missed the two (yes, two) installations of Mtr. Anne Kyle, one as Pastor to Christ and Trinity Lutheran Church, Sedalia,  and the second as rector to Calvary Episcopal Church, Sedalia. I also missed the installation of my EfM class-mate and alumna  Mtr. Laura Hughes as rector of St. George in Camdenton.

As the end of the calendar year draws nigh it’s traditional to have a little bit of introspection and reflection on the past year. Here is a small selection of some of my favorite memories from the 1,000+ pictures I took during my travels around the diocese this year. Enjoy.

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri.


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Called In. Sent Out.

Building a Community of Purpose

The Rt. Rev. Martin S. Field Eight-minute read.   Resources

Bishop Marty Addresses the 128th Annual Diocesan Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri Image credit: Gary Allman

On the first weekend in November, Friday and Saturday, November 3 & 4 to be exact, West Missouri held its annual convention. The theme of that convention was: “Called in. Sent out. Building a Community of Purpose.” I included a reference to this theme in my homily at the ordinations and reception of a priest that took place during the convention’s opening worship. I also referred to it at some length in my address to the convention. And, I find myself still ruminating reflectively on that theme even now, several weeks later. So much so that I am going to use it as my theme for the coming year.

What follows is an excerpt from my address to convention in which I elucidate what I think is the gist of being “called in and sent out” and of building, together, a community of purpose.

The Jesus Movement

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry very famously has worked to recapture language from the ancient Church and to move us from thinking of the Church as an institution, and toward thinking of the Church as a movement, as a group affiliated round a cause, a purpose, or — in Church-speak — a mission.

I must be honest. One of the joys of my life was casting my vote for Michael Bruce Curry and helping elect him to the office of Presiding Bishop. His heart beats in rhythm with my heart. His desire for the Church to awaken to itself and its purpose matches my own. He says it and preaches it better than I ever could. The man is a force!

His 10,000-foot view of what the Church is certainly inspiring, at least to me, but we are The Diocese of West Missouri. Therefore, we must localize what Bishop Curry is talking about — must bring his vision down from 10,000 feet to … well … no more than 1,000 feet. We must come to grips with what it means to be the Episcopal Branch of the loving, liberating, life-giving Jesus Movement on our turf, in our backyard, on our street or town or county.

At the Special Convention this past June, I shared some thoughts about the purpose of a diocese — a generic diocese, no matter where it’s located. And I tried to encapsulate what I see a diocese has to do — its marching orders — its mission. A diocese is a complex organism. It has lots of parts and has lots to do.

Try this analogy: a diocese is a machine with thousands of moving parts engineered and built to manufacture hundreds of different products simultaneously. It is not intended to produce a single outcome, unless you paint that outcome broadly, as in,

2819 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you… Matthew 28:19-20a

That’s broad.

The Book of Common Prayer states the Church’s purpose or mission this way: “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”

That’s also broad, because what does that look like at a localized level? It may mean one thing in West Missouri; it may mean another thing altogether in Cuba, or in Jerusalem, or in Beijing, or in any of a million places.

Localized, I believe the aspirations of the Jesus movement must be tied to or matched up with program, or process, or practicality.

So, let me ask you to focus on the theme for this convention. It is: “Called In. Sent Out. Building a Community of Purpose.”

I’ll say it again. “Called In. Sent Out. Building a Community of Purpose.”

The theme was chosen to reflect the rhythm of Christian life and to encapsulate the Prayer Book’s teaching on the Church: Let me quote an excerpt from pages 854-855 of the Prayer Book.

The Church

Q. What is the Church?
A. The Church is the community of the New Covenant.

Q. Why is the Church described as apostolic?
A. The Church is apostolic, because it continues in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles and is sent to carry out Christ’s mission to all people.

Q. What is the mission of the Church?
A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

Q. How does the Church pursue its mission?
A. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.

Q. Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
A. The church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.

“Called In. Sent Out.” is a summation meant to emphasize that we come to the Church as disciples, as learners, to learn the way of Jesus. We are sent out from the Church as apostles, meaning those who are sent, and being sent our task is to pray, worship, proclaim, and promote justice, peace, and love.

We swing in this rhythm over and over, week by week. It is the disciplined life of the Christian. The method by which we are ever being made more ready for our ministry and then being sent out to minister.

Disciple ⇒ Apostle. Disciple ⇒ Apostle. Disciple ⇒ Apostle.

Over and over until they are truly part of us. Until we are not just doing but have become loving, liberating, life-giving ministry for the world.

You see parishes are not the point of this churchy endeavor, not in and of themselves. Neither are dioceses. Congregations or dioceses that exist to ensure their continued existence are the very antithesis of the Jesus Movement. If Jesus had been chiefly interested in his own continuity, what would have become of God’s purpose? The Church and churches are called to be about giving themselves away, about helping disciples learn to walk so closely with Jesus that their lives come to reflect his life. Then the Church — the Jesus Movement Church, not the institutional, corporate church of buildings and wealth — is sent out to do Christ’s healing, reconciling work in a wide, hurting world.

So, I’d like to venture a closing thought.

In my point of view, we, as a diocesan community, have become fearful of material things, which has led us to be too inattentive to spiritual things. How often do you read the Bible? How about engaging in a serious study of the scriptures? How often do you pray? What do you do to deepen your prayer connections to God? How often do you leave worship with a plan to act in kindness and mercy? To promote justice, peace, and love? Why are the concerns of the material world so enthralling when Jesus says that the way to abundant life — for congregations no less than individuals — is to give life away, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” It’s there in three of the Gospels!

What this means is this: as soon as we stop trying to survive, we will learn how to live! “Called In. Sent Out. Building a Community of Purpose.” This is my challenge to you and your parishes and to all The Diocese of West Missouri for the days before us.

“Called In. Sent Out.” Let’s be that Community of Purpose.

As I mentioned, “Called in. Sent out. Building a Community of Purpose” is going to be my theme throughout the next year. I hope you’ll make it your theme, too, in the life of your parish and in your personal life. God needs disciples — life-long learners who foster faith-building communities, and God needs each disciple to be an apostle — one who reaches out from those communities to engage a world that so very, very badly needs the transformation that comes most readily through the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

The Rt. Rev. Martin Scott Field (Bishop Marty) is the eighth bishop of The Diocese of West Missouri.


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An Advent Meditation

Patience and moderation are other key virtues cultivated during Advent.

The Very Rev. Dr. Don H. Compier Five-minute read.  

I confess that every year I find it hard to explain exactly what Advent is all about. And I think that somehow this is the point of this season! In this time of waiting, preparation, and yes, even a bit of repenting (remember that purple, the color of Lent, is one of the two acceptable liturgical colors for Advent), we are supposed to realize that our pre-conceived sureties probably won’t hold up.

Advent calls us to open our minds and hearts and see what God has in store. Humility, willingness to learn and change, is a virtue especially appropriate to this time of year.

Let’s begin with the obvious: proper observance of Advent defies the expectations of our broader culture. We say “Happy New Year!” not on January 1 (that is the Feast of the Holy Name), but on the first Sunday of Advent. And everyone around us is counseling “let’s be jolly” and rushing to bring out the Christmas decorations, saturate the airwaves with Christmas music and tv specials, and engage in the usual consumerist frenzy.

Our culture is so eager to get to the good parts that we are pushing the start of the Christmas season further and further back. We can no longer wait for Santa to show up in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Stores now stock shelves with Christmas products even before All Saints’ Eve (commonly called Halloween). In contrast, we Christians must wait, ponder, be penitent.

Patience and moderation are other key virtues cultivated during Advent.

If you look at the lectionary texts for the Sundays of Advent, you’ll see that prophets really come to the fore now. Who and what are prophets? They are spokespersons for God Almighty. This means that before saying a word they must devote a lot of time to prayer and contemplation. Prophets must first take the time to be mystics. As prophetic training comes to fruition in God’s good time, its primary fruit is a new vision. By God’s grace prophets see the world very differently. The Spirit helps them cut through smokescreens and cover-ups and excuses and denial and false hopes as well as despair to see things as they really are.

We often get the impression that prophets are bringers of bad news, of condemnation and coming judgment and disaster. That is certainly true. Prophets show us that we really have gotten ourselves and the whole planet into quite a bad mess. But it is not the whole truth. With the new lenses God provides prophets can also see very unexpected help coming. They proclaim well-founded hope even in the worst circumstances (and remember that most of the Biblical writers lived in terrible times, as do most people around the world today).

Prophets know that the God of unfathomable, inexhaustible Love will always have the last word.

In Advent, let’s listen to the prophets. Let’s consider sharing their vocation, as our baptismal vows clearly imply we should. Let’s devote more time to listening to God. We self-reliant frontier people, rugged individualists, citizens of one of history’s great empires, must hear this: we need Jesus to come.

If this truth can’t get into our bones, Christmas will mean little more than unwrapping more stuff, much of which we really don’t need, and once more overeating and trying to manage family dynamics. We’ll miss out on the amazing fact that the Creator and Ruler of our vast universe loves us so much, in spite of the mess we have made of everything, that the Holy One became one of us, a vulnerable poor babe born in a stable.

If we don’t get Advent right, it’s like beginning to read a novel with its third chapter and then wondering what on earth is going on. Christ the Incarnate Lord comes into a broken world in which people cannot see clearly and have lost their way. Advent sets the stage. Let’s allow God to tell the whole story from the beginning, all the way to the end already anticipated on the first Sunday of Advent: Jesus is coming again to bring all God’s good purposes to fulfillment.

The Very Rev. Dr. Don H. Compier is the Dean of Bishop Kemper School for Ministry


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This article was original published on December 4, and sent out as the BKSM Monday Memo.

Convention Digest

The 128th Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri.

Curtis Hamilton Eight-minute read.   Resources

The 128th Annual Diocesan Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The 128th Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri met at the Adams Pointe Convention Center in Blue Springs on November 3-4, 2017. Below is a digest of events that took place and official actions of the convention.

Ordinations and Reception

The 128th Annual Diocesan Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

At the Convention Eucharist, Mr. Larry Ehren (Grace and Holy Trinity, Kansas City) and Ms. Karen Mann (St. Mary Magdalene, Belton) were ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons. The Rev. Jonathan Callison (St. Paul’s, Kansas City) was received into the Sacred Order of Presbyters.

2018 Plan for Ministry

The 2018 Plan for Ministry was adopted as presented. It is balanced and calls for just less than $1.9 million in both income and expenses. The income comes from diocesan assessments (67.29% of total income), investment income (27.32%), and other sources of income (5.06%). The investment income represents a draw of 5.0% from investments.

The Plan for Ministry as presented by the Diocesan Council called for the elimination of personnel costs from the Campus Ministries budget. An amendment was presented to restore this funding, but was defeated by the Convention.

Elections and Appointments

Counting the election votes at the 128th Annual Diocesan Convention of The Diocese of West Missouri Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The Convention elected the following persons to various governance and programmatic bodies of the diocese.

Diocesan Officers (serve until the next Diocesan Convention ends): Curtis Hamilton, Secretary (Grace and Holy Trinity, Kansas City); Caleb Cordonnier, Treasurer (St. Paul’s, Kansas City); and David Powell, Chancellor (St. Paul’s, Kansas City).

Standing Committee (two-year terms): Mary Christiano (Christ Church, Springfield); Rob Walker (St. Peter and All Saints, Kansas City); Mtr. Anne Meredith Kyle (Calvary, Sedalia); and Fr. John Spicer (St. Andrew’s, Kansas City). After the Convention, the Standing Committee elected Fr. Jonathan Frazier (St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City) as President.

Diocesan Council (two-year terms): Walter George (Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City); Jillian Merrill (Trinity, Independence); Marsha Patterson (Christ Church, Springfield); Mickey Simnitt (Christ Church, Lexington); Mtr. Laura Hughes (St. George’s, Camdenton); and Fr. Ron Verhaeghe (St. Luke’s Health System). (Note: Bishop Field is also allowed by diocesan canons to appoint two laypersons to the Diocesan Council for two-year terms. As of the time of writing these appointments have not been made.)

Board of Examining Chaplains (three-year terms): Dr. William Stancil (Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City); Dean Peter DeVeau (Grace and Holy Trinity, Kansas City); and Fr. Russell Johnson (Trinity, Independence).

Bishop Kemper School for Ministry Board of Directors (two-year terms): Pam Davis (Shepherd of the Hills, Branson) and Fr. Jonathan Frazier (St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City).

Disciplinary Board (two-year terms): Mark Galus (Grace and Holy Trinity, Kansas City) and Fr. Stan Runnels (St. Paul’s, Kansas City).

Commission on the Ministry (three-year terms unless otherwise noted): Kathy Alexander (Christ Church, Springfield); Cossette Hardwick (Christ Church, St. Joseph) (Bishop’s Appointment); Karen Horny (St. John’s, Springfield); Fr. Joe Behen (Church of the Redeemer, Kansas City); (two-year unexpired term); Mtr. Ezgi Sarabay Perkins (St. Andrew’s, Kansas City); Dcn. Beck Schubert (Hospice Chaplain); and Fr. Galen Snodgrass (Good Shepherd, Kansas City) (Bishop’s Appointment).

Adopted Resolutions

Resolution #6, submitted by the Northwest-Metro Deanery, called for a reduction of the parochial financial assessment scale for 2019 to specific targets. The convention amended the resolution to call for a reduction in “a significant and meaningful way to allow congregations to direct more financial resources to mission and ministry at the local level.”

Resolution #7, submitted by the Committee on Dispatch of Business, changed the Order of Business in the Rules of Order of the Convention in accord with a motion from last year’s Convention.

Resolution #8, submitted by Mtr. Megan Castellan (St. Paul’s, Kansas City) and Mtr. Susan McCann (Grace, Liberty), called on the Convention to “affirm our support for all immigrants and refugees in the United States, especially those persons who are DACA recipients (commonly known as Dreamers)”. It also called for media outlets and elected state and federal elected officials to be made aware of the support of the Diocese for Dreamers. A motion to amend by removing language regarding support for all immigrants and refugees in the United States was defeated.

Resolution #9, submitted by the Commission on Ministry (COM), called on the COM to research and study the feasibility of implementing a diocese-wide curacy program. Language calling for a report back to next year’s convention was added by the Resolutions Committee before they recommended the resolution’s adoption.

Approved at first reading

Resolution #3, submitted by the Standing Committee, called for a change in the number of consecutive two-year terms a member can serve from two to three. This is a change in the Constitution of the diocese and must be approved by two consecutive conventions. In order to adopt this change, next year’s convention must approve the same change in a vote by orders and the bishop must assent to this change. Implementing changes to the diocesan canons are also required, but need action by only one convention to be adopted.

Referred Resolutions

Resolution #1, submitted by Fr. Steven Wilson (Grace, Carthage) and Dean David Kendrick (St. John’s, Springfield and Dean of the Southern Deanery), would have called for a change to the canonical definition of a parish. The Convention referred this resolution to the Diocesan Council for action by a committee to be formed to consider a rewriting of the diocesan constitution and canons.

Resolution #4, submitted by the diocesan Campus Ministry Commission, would have called for a change in the diocesan constitution to allow for representatives of campus ministries to elect up to four delegates to the diocesan convention. The Convention referred this resolution back to Campus Ministries for further study, working with the Diocesan Council.

Resolution #5, submitted by Dean Peter DeVeau (Grace and Holy Trinity, Kansas City), Curtis Hamilton (Secretary of the Diocese), and the Northwest-Metro Deanery, would have called for the next convention to be approximately one-half day shorter, and held at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral. The Committee on Resolutions divided this into two resolutions (one regarding the location of the convention and one regarding its length) and the convention referred both resolutions to the Diocesan Council for further study.

Resolution not adopted

Resolution #2, proposed by Fr. Stan Runnels (St. Paul’s, Kansas City) and the Northwest-Metro Deanery, would have called for a termination of the lease of an apartment the diocese maintains in Springfield.

Bishop’s Shield

During the Convention, Bishop Field announced that a Bishop’s Shield would be awarded on Saturday evening at the Bishop’s Ball, hosted by the Diocesan Youth Commission. The Shield was awarded to Ms. Duchess Wall (St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City) for her decades-long work in youth ministry at the diocesan and local level.

Curtis Hamilton is the Diocesan Secretary and attends Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Work Group Reports — Finance Team

Gary Allman One-minute read.   Resources

Diocesan Treasurer, Caleb Cordonnier reports on the work of the Finance Team at the Diocesan Gathering Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The key work of the Finance Team has been the review of the diocesan budget — more generally referred to as The Plan for Ministry.

However, in addition to reviewing what is being spent the team is also looking at how funds are raised. In particular, the team has been reviewing the Project Resource 2 initiative from the Episcopal Church Foundation and the College of Bishops. At the Diocesan Gathering, Fr. John Spicer (St. Andrew’s Kansas City) and Mark Gallus (Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City) discussed new approaches to raising diocesan funds.

Mark Galus and Fr. John Spicer report on the work of the Finance Team Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

Project Resource provides the tools to inspire radical generosity and engage faith communities in this life-changing work. Project Resource is an initiative:

  • adapted to enable an entirely new culture in all aspects of financial development: spiritual, organizational, and managerial.
  • designed to train leaders how to return to their diocese to lead others within the diocese’s culture, geography, and cultural realities as they develop leaders and raise money.
  • configured to teach effective use of model documents archived online for easy teaching access.

Project Resource provides teaching, focus, and resources such that a team may return to their diocese equipped to teach and lead locally in areas of resource development. Project Resource does this by:

  • gathering the best resources, which not only deal with raising money, but which gets at societal shifts, organizational change, and leadership challenges.
  • providing diocesan teams time to interpret the content, session by session, within the realities and particularities of their own diocesan, cultural, and regional situations.
  • Empowering each team to leave with a working plan, with measurable objectives, tailored specifically for their own diocese.

Project Resource seeks to change churches’ culture and systems around financial development in the worldwide Episcopal Church. It seeks to instill and install effective financial development in diocesan teams of leadership.

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri.

Work Group Reports — Goals Team

The Goals Team presents their work at the Diocesan Gathering. Fr. Chas Marks at the microphone. Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The Goals Working Team of the Diocesan Council emerged from the Council’s retreat in January 2017. There we worked together to find specific principles that would guide us in restructuring the Diocese of West Missouri so that we might more effectively pursue the mission of the Church in West Missouri to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

Out of that retreat came four “tests for success” for diocesan programs.

  1. Do they empower parishes to fulfill their part of our mission and ministry?
  2. Do they help make the Diocese more a parish of the whole?
  3. Do they direct our resources more outward than inward?
  4. Do they allow the Bishop to be more of a bishop than a CEO?

It is the Goals Team’s task to come up with some specific goals for the diocese as a whole that are consistent with both our mission as a church and the tests for success. Under the chairmanship of Fr. Chas Marks, we have met many times in person and remotely over the past year (about once a month).

Our Bishop has rightly said that a diocese is a “parish of the whole”. It is Episcopal membership of the diocese which makes the churches the local delivery points of the diocesan missions and ministries. If the churches are going to be the ‘hands and feet’ of our diocese, then they need to be coordinated and empowered to work successfully in their particular mission field. And for that, the Goals Team agrees that assessment relief is essential for our churches to be able to think beyond their current financial limitations. With the recent Diocesan Convention asking for a “significant and meaningful” reduction in parochial assessments, the Goals Team’s work becomes even more important in determining what is most important for the common work of the diocese.

Because of the geographic distances between the people of the Diocese, finding ways to bring us closer together in collaboration and communion is absolutely crucial if we are to be more a parish of the whole. Technological developments are making it more possible for us to have remote meetings from the Diocesan office and St. John’s in Springfield. While the technology is being improved in Springfield, the Goals Team also believes that a remote location should be established in the Central Deanery. The more we can see each other face to face and talk to each other, the better we can plan together and work together.

The Goals Team also believes that we as a diocese should dream together of what it might look like for the people of The Diocese of West Missouri to come together for fellowship and communion (which is actually the same word in the New Testament).

When it comes to the outward directing of our resources, the Goals Team commends the substantial support which the diocese already extends to Nourish KC (formerly Episcopal Community Services) and the Council of Churches of the Ozarks. These two organizations do much to alleviate the physical and spiritual needs of the people they serve. And the Diocese’s $60,000 support should continue. At a time when Americans seem increasingly divided, the Goals Team believes that the work of the Diocesan Diversity and Reconciliation Commission should be supported by a paid staff position.

As for the 4th test of allowing the Bishop to focus less on the administrative work of the diocese, the Goals team agrees that the diocesan constitution and canons are long overdue for revision. We look forward to that work being undertaken in 2018.

We are grateful for the contributions of the members of the Goals Team, which includes members of the Diocesan Council, but is by no means limited to them. If you would like to participate in our work, or have any concerns, please feel free to contact Fr. Chas Marks

The Very Rev. David Kendrick, Southern Dean and Goals Working Team member.


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Work Group Reports — Metrics Team

The Metrics Team spotlights how Episcopal churches are changing and being challenged in West Missouri and analyses church and diocesan reports that highlight changes in priest deployment, number of churches, membership, attendance, and financial trends.

The Rev. Ted Estes and Amanda Perschall Five-minute read.   Resources

Work Group Reports — Metrics Team Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The Metrics team presented the following data through graphs, explanation, and dialogue during the November 2017 Convention.

Metrics Team members are: Mary Ellison, Fr. Ted Estes, Krista Heuett, Collin Larimore, Fr. Jerry Miller, Fr. Patrick Perkins, Amanda Perschall, David Powell, Thomas Rose, and Fr. Galen Snodgrass. Fr. Estes and Ms. Perschall are co-conveners of the group.

Priest Deployment – Graph 1

Priest deployment (graph 1) has changed significantly over the last 17 years. In 2000, there were 52 congregations and the majority of these churches (71% – 37 churches) were served by at least one full-time priest. Part-time priests served seven churches (14%). Eight churches were served in regional ministries (15%). By 2017, the number of churches has reduced to 48 with the deployment of priests shifting to about a third in each category. 15 churches are served by at least one full-time priest (31%). 18 churches are served by a part-time priest (38%). 15 churches are served by a regional ministry (31%). These shifts in deployment reflect a changing dynamic in how our churches are staffed and function.

During this same 17-year period, the diocese closed seven churches and opened three. Conventional thinking might suppose that the majority of churches closed were located in rural areas with shrinking populations. This is not the case. Four Kansas City Metropolitan Churches (Holy Spirit, Cambridge, St. John, & All Saints) and two Springfield suburban churches (Ascension & Good Shepherd) were closed. Only Trinity Church of Marshall is considered rural, although it has a population in excess of 14,000 and a four-year college. Three churches have been opened since 2000, St. Thomas a Becket, Cassville; St. Matthew, Ozark, and St. Mary Magdalene, Belton. The first two of these are in a regional ministry and the third is served by a part-time priest. Cassville is rural and the other two suburban.

Trends in Diocesan membership and finance are similar to those in The Episcopal Church (TEC). (the abbreviation TEC will be used to indicate The Episcopal Church, comprised of 110 dioceses). ASA (Average Sunday Attendance) is the average attendance over 52 Sundays for a church, diocese or the TEC. According to Episcopal Church Domestic Fast Facts 2016: TEC ASA has declined -11% and TEC Active Baptized Membership has declined -8% over the last five years. Episcopal Church Plate & Pledge Income 2011-2016 reports that TEC’s average pledge has increased +11% ($359) from $2,395 to $2,754 and the overall plate and pledge reported has increased +1% over the same five-years.

Trends for The Diocese of West Missouri from 2011 to 2016 show a -17% decline in ASA and Diocesan Active Baptized Membership shows a -12% decline. Diocesan Average Member Pledge shows an increase of +19% from $2,432 to $2,901 in the last five years. When compared to the -9% decrease in the total Diocesan Plate and Pledge from $7,552,159 to $6,881,371, the increase in average pledge suggests that there are fewer pledging units but that they have increased the amount they are pledging. However, the increase in average giving is not sufficient to maintain the total of plate offerings and pledges received five years ago.

The Metrics team surveyed 15 Bishop’s staff members regarding their job descriptions, Mission Statements, goals, objectives, priorities, methods of tracking progress, and other pertinent issues. The data collected have been shared with the Goals Team for use in developing goals and aligning activities and measures to assess progress toward those goals.

The Metrics team’s charge is to work closely with diocesan stakeholders in developing and implementing appropriate measures for the work of the diocese. The goal is to provide meaningful data that guides programming and provides assurance that resources, efforts of personnel, and funding at the diocesan level are targeted, effective, and prioritized in alignment with diocesan goals. The next stage of this work will focus on the goals established for the diocese in the current process.

Sources of Information include: Individual Parochial Reports 1998-2016, The Episcopal Church Annual 2000 & 2016, Domestic Fast Facts 2016 and Fast Facts Trends 2012-2016, Average Sunday Attendance by Province and Diocese 2006-2016, Baptized Members by Province and Diocese 2006-2016, Domestic Plate & Pledge Income 2011-2016, Average Pledge by Province and Diocese 2006-2016, and Staff Surveys.

The Rev. Ted Estes is associate rector of Grace Church, Carthage, member of Diocesan Council, and co-chair of the Metrics Team.
Amanda Perschall is an active member of Trinity Church, Lebanon, member of Diocesan Council, and co-chair of the Metrics Team.


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Work Group Reports — Tools Team

Channing Horner Five-minute read.   Resources

The charge to the Tools Team was to explore the most effective methods and tools to best advance programming and communications throughout the diocese, thereby ensuring that all parishes and congregations, independent of size and/or resources, will be able to have access to programming, information, and Christian formation. The goal is to give people the feeling that we are one “parish of the whole” by expanding our interests, experiences, information, and Christian formation to lead us to increased interaction within the diocese.

We began by listing pertinent existing instruments and programs within the diocese of which we were aware and then moved to listing possible additions or enhancements to those items that we believe could contribute to the desired feeling of oneness within the diocese.

We recognized that we are in the midst of a transition in the means of communication, which can seem chaotic at times. We also recognized that no single tool, in itself, will be adequate. Nevertheless, we believe that useful communication, in whatever format, has a consistent message, is timely, and is received at predictable intervals.

Current means of communications from the diocese to the churches is primarily electronic, with some churches producing print versions for members without electronic access. The other key communication route is what we came to call “organic” — serendipitous conversation, networking, and personal relationships.

Our recommendations began with the suggestion to rethink the ways we “do” Gathering/Convention, exploring alternatives to provide more opportunities for interpersonal interactions. Specifically, we recommend reinstating the hospitality room or some equivalent, as that is a means through which many friendships began. Having benefitted as a team from becoming better acquainted within a smaller group, we suggest that there be activities designed for small group interaction, possibly based on an overall theme. Finally, we urge scheduling that will encourage broad attendance, recognizing that job obligations often make weekday meetings impossible.

To enhance two-way communication, we believe it is important to review and encourage the people from each church who are registered to receive and disseminate the electronically distributed information. We also need a stronger emphasis on having the communications contact person (or another person) provide information back from the church to the diocese as a whole.

In terms of communication from the diocese to the local churches, we believe it would be beneficial to review the frequency at which the current communications are sent out, and the recipients are polled to determine, what actions they take to distribute and share this information. Questions need to be asked, as to what may be done to assist them further in sharing this information with their members. We also recommend that the recipients be polled on the content of the current communications so that the diocese ensures that the information sent out closely serves their, and their members’ needs.

The team’s opinion in advance of obtaining the feedback mentioned above is that it would be beneficial to provide a weekly diocesan bulletin, sent to at least the priest, the senior warden/bishop’s warden, the secretary/office manager, and the designated communications contact. That bulletin could include information about upcoming events and brief reports of past events.

The transition to Digital Faith has reached the limits of its expected adoption. We recommend further information be published on its capabilities in order to encourage further participation and so that all the churches may have an awareness of its potential.

As we move more thoroughly into electronic means of communication, we believe that all such instruments should be as readily navigable and user-friendly as possible. We also know that they need to recognize generational differences via format, style, and content while being streamlined, consolidated, and condensed. In all cases, they need to provide effective, user-friendly ways to contribute.

We strongly encourage consideration of our recommendations in planning wherever appropriate, be it at the diocesan level or locally.

Channing Horner is Senior Warden at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Maryville.


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Reflections on the Diocesan Convention

A story of mixed emotions encountered during the diocesan convention.

Mike McDonnell Five-minute read.   Resources

Mike McDonnell, St. George Episcopal Church, Camdenton speaks during the Finance Team’s presentation Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

In early November, Mtr. Laura Hughes, my wife Maureen, and I spent several days at The Diocese of West Missouri’s Annual Convention. The convention, for the most part, was very enjoyable with the exception of the last three hours which I have told people was absolutely mind-numbingly excruciating.

However, it was to all of us, I believe, a worthwhile expense of our time to attend, and finally, after 11 years I am getting a handle on understanding the process of how the Episcopal Church operates on a diocesan level. Having said this, I am not writing about the convention, but the emotional experience I had while attending. Three times I experienced tears rolling down my cheeks and a great twisting of my heart and soul.
I haven’t fully worked out the impact of these emotions or even the why, but they did happen, and I feel they occurred because of the profound presence of the Holy Spirit.
I was deeply moved by reading the November 3rd edition of the USA Today Newspaper. There was an article, by George Schroeder, about a six-year-old boy, Will Kohl, who had undergone a heart transplant.  Will was diagnosed, before he was born, with a significant heart abnormality: ‘hypoplastic left heart syndrome’ in which the left ventricle is severely underdeveloped.  He had been at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children Hospital for 295 days (as of Nov 3) and 44 days since he had his new heart.  Will has undergone several treatments that were stop-gap measures designed to get him to a point in his life where he could receive a new heart.  At 3 ½ years old, Will was placed on a waiting list for a new heart. Since that time, he had to be placed on a Berlin Heart (artificial heart) and suffer the disappointment of finding a heart, but discovering later that it was unsuitable. Ultimately, the hospital located for him a suitable heart. 

This is just one heart-wrenching story about the dozens of children at the Stead Children’s hospital. What makes this story a little different is not Will’s or the other children very serious conditions, but what happens on Saturdays during the Iowa football season. You see, the hospital is built next to the Iowa Kinnick Football Stadium.  On the 12th floor of the hospital, there is a huge window overlooking the stadium. It is where patients gather with their parents on game day. As the families look-on, the huge crowd of 68,000  suddenly turns toward the hospital (including the visiting team), and looking-up begin to wave at all the kids and their parents.  This Saturday happens to be a night game, and as the kids are looking down from their 12th-floor perch, they see thousands of cameras and cell phones flashing. The kids with their parents enthusiastically return the wave. The gratitude expressed by the kid’s and their parents through their broad smiles will move you to tears and remind you that love can be found in the middle of a sporting event. Kudos to the University of Iowa!

On Saturday I watched a presentation showing how the Episcopal Church is working with the Council of Churches of the Ozarks. We were shown a video, prepared by the Council of Churches, explaining how they reach out to the community to assist those in need. One of the stories in the video was about a young woman who was holding tightly on to her “wiggling” child, as she conveyed her thanks for the assistance she received. As she looked at the camera, I heard her voice cracking with emotion as she sincerely articulated her deep appreciation. We live in a world filled with cynicism, but at this very moment, I saw pure gratitude. There was no sign of entitlement in her voice, nor was there anyone whispering that she should not have gotten pregnant if she could not afford a baby. There was heartfelt gratitude and thankfulness that someone showed her love and thought she was worthy of being helped.

Finally, during Friday evening’s Ordination and Reception Mass we sang (and I say that very loosely for me) two of my favorite Hymns: “Holy Ground” and ”I, the Lord of sea and sky.”  Now in itself, that would be nothing extraordinary, but for some mystical reason my soul was stirred by the words in “I, the Lord of  sea and sky.”  In all three verses, the Refrain is repeated following the three questions, as follows:

1st verse, Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send;

2nd verse,  I will speak my word to them. Whom shall I send?;
3rd verse, I will give my life to them. Whom shall I send?
The Refrain after each is: “Here I am Lord. Is it I, Lord?”

To any of you who know me reasonably well, you will know one of my questions to myself and others I speak with, is about recognizing when Jesus is whispering to us, specifically about what we are called to do.  It has been a question I asked myself countless times during my life and to be honest, I have never, ever been satisfied with my self-answers. However, maybe the answer to my lifelong question is always to be open to God’s call and his request for me to use my gifts for him. Maybe some of that answer for you and me lies in the totality of the Refrain; “Here I am Lord. Is it I Lord? I have, if you lead me, I will hold your people in my heart.” Consider what St. Francis is attributed to have said,

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.

So my question for you to consider when you hear that quiet whisper is, “Is it I, Lord who you have called?”

Mike McDonnell is co-founder of the Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking coalition, and member of St. George Episcopal Church, Camdenton.


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Book Review: “Do This, Remembering Me”

The Rev. Jerry Kolb One-minute read.   Resources

What’s the most difficult pastoral care visit you’ve had to make? I suspect that many would say it is visiting a person who has advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. There is now help with this issue in the form of a very practical little book written by an Episcopal priest, Colette Bachand-Wood.

In this 111-page paperback book, she conveys some her own experience with her demented father together with her pastoral experience as a Hospice Chaplain and a parish priest. She introduces you to a number of people and uses their stories to help you understand particular situations. Over the years she has collected these ‘stories’ and presents some very practical and meaningful ‘actions/suggestions’ to help in ministering to these people.

While much of the book is focused on providing pastoral care, the suggestions and activities she offers are just as valuable to family members dealing with this issue. She provides a number of the most common signs of dementia and suggests some ways to best approach these people. Helping people to recognize their own body language, choosing the best words and being aware of your own tone of voice are some of the suggestions she offers to help in communicating. At the conclusion of the book, she provides three appendices:

  • Putting together a worship service,
  • Prayers, and
  • Resources in which she provides a number of additional activities and services.

Interestingly, the parish she serves is designated as a “Dementia Friendly” parish. She has people in her congregation specifically trained to assist families that want to continue to bring their loved ones to worship. These people know how to assist family members if and when something unexpected might happen. This is a great book and every clergy person should read, mark and inwardly digest the wisdom that Colette Bachand-Wood has so succinctly shared with her readers. It was published in 2016 by Morehouse Publishing and is available through Church Publishing or Amazon.

The Rev. Jerry Kolb is a Chaplain to the Retired Clergy and Surviving Spouses for The Diocese of West Missouri.

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Independence — 50th Anniversary

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Independence, recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding.

The Rev. Dr. Douglas P. Johnson One-minute read.   Resources

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Independence — 50th Anniversary

St. Michael’s feast day is generally observed throughout the wider church on September 29th each year, but in striving to be faithful to remembering the anniversary of the actual date of the first worship service at St. Michael’s (September 3rd, 1967), our St. Michael’s feast day was transferred to September 3rd.

It was a grand day. We invited folks from far and wide — really anyone who had ever been touched by the life, history, and ministry of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. We invited former clergy, we prayed for clergy and former parishioners alike who have had their heavenly birthday and entered into larger life. St. Michael’s Church was full and each person there was loving and praising the Lord of Life.

This was not just another day in the life of St. Michael’s, but rather a day in which we could strive to attract both former and potential new members. The celebration was a day to not only remember our patron saint, Michael, but also to give thanks for the life, history, witness, and ministry of this community of faith as it has offered itself to the work of God down through the years.

We wanted everyone to think of this as a kind of “Reunion Sunday”. We wanted everyone who was currently an active part of St. Michael’s or had been in the past, or who would like to be in the future to come and join us in our celebration. We especially wanted to welcome any who had been baptized, confirmed, or married through the ministry of St. Michael’s.

We had lots of pictures and videos providing a living description of the life of St. Michael’s throughout the last fifty years. They showed us praying together, laughing together, learning together, praising God together. Many pictures as well showed our living ministry in our food and necessity pantries which are very active in the Independence community, and are one of our most vital outreach ministries. I am constantly amazed at the amount of work this small group of people does — it seems there is more outreach happening here than in most churches three or four times our size.

Following our very lively worship, we had a barbeque dinner under a tent in the church grounds — all catered by a loving and grateful God. The day was certainly a time of God’s grace, hope, and vision for our small church as we continue in our mission to win souls for Christ. Many thanks to our 50th Anniversary Committee who worked so wonderfully and with such loving devotion to make our day such a great day of offering to the Lord.

Fr. Johnson has been the Priest in Charge of St. Michael’s, Independence, since 2016 and has previously served the diocese as the Vicar of Christ Church, Lexington, as Canon to the Ordinary, Chaplain at St. Luke’s Hospital, and on more diocesan departments, committees, and commissions than he can count.


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Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking Coalition Makes Plans to Begin a Safe House

The Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking Coalition is now ready to pursue the second part of the dream they had at their founding: that of developing a safe house for women who have been trafficked.

Sally Kemp Five-minute read.   Resources

Three years ago, when Mike McDonnel and I founded the Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking Coalition, our immediate goal was to raise awareness about human trafficking. From the beginning, we wanted the coalition to include people of all faiths and beliefs so we could attack this evil together.

Through meetings each month for the coalition we have provided speakers, including survivors, to educate us about human trafficking. We have held events to help hotel and motel personnel recognize trafficking, and we have spoken to numerous local organizations, as well as at The Diocese of West Missouri’s Annual Gathering, and to state and federal meetings. We have met with young people to teach them how to protect themselves and their friends. We have shown films and discussed the trafficking depicted. It has been very gratifying to see our membership grow and become so involved in spreading the word about human trafficking.
Now, however, with the help of a very able Board of Directors, we feel that while we will continue to raise awareness, we are ready to pursue the other part of the dream we had at our founding: to develop a safe house for women who have been trafficked. Our vision is to provide an extended-stay safe house where women who have been terribly traumatized and are having a particularly hard time putting their lives back together, could heal and face the world again.
This will call for an extended program of one to two years during which time the victim can feel welcome and safe while rebuilding confidence in herself.  A safe house would establish an emotionally safe environment, develop trustworthiness, restore choice and control so that the victim could believe in her ability to solve problems, support the development of coping mechanisms, facilitate connection with others, build strength, and allow her to respond to different situations and types of people.
The safe house we envision would be welcoming and appropriate to the special needs of trauma survivors. All aspects of the program would be responsive to the deeply-seated effects of trauma.
At the outset, 4-6 women would be a part of the extended program. After several years it might extend to 10. This year we will begin to look at possible answers to housing and begin training members who wish to work with victims, as well as begin to raise the considerable sums of money that will make this possible. With God’s help, the help of our able board, members, and the generosity of the people of the lake area, we hope to open our extended-stay safe house within the next two-three years.
To donate to the safe house, please visit our website.

Sally Kemp is President of the Lake of the Ozarks Stop Human Trafficking Coalition (LOSHTC), and serves as a Lay Eucharistic Minister, and Lay Eucharistic Visitor with St. George Episcopal Church, Camdenton.


Area Confirmations at St. John’s, Springfield

Gary Allman One-minute read.   Resources

On the afternoon of Sunday October 22, 2017, Confirmations and Reaffirmations into the Episcopal Church were held at St. John’s in Springfield. Churches taking part were: Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield and St. John’s Episcopal Church, Springfield. Image credit: Gary Allman

Confirmations, and a reaffirmation were held at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Springfield on Sunday, October 22, 2017. At the service members of St. John’s and Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield were confirmed.

Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield

Presentation of the candidates from Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield Image credit: Gary Allman

Confirmed: Rachael Dockery, Gwen Kearns, Abram McGull.

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Springfield

Presentation of the candidates from St. John’s Episcopal Church, Springfield Image credit: Gary Allman

Confirmed: Steven Freeman, Eric Swanson.
Reaffirmed: Amy Smith.

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri.


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Area Confirmations at St. Mary’s, Kansas City

Gary Allman One-minute read.   Resources

On Thursday November 2, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, hosted diocesan Area Confirmations Image credit: Gary Allman

Confirmations, receptions and reaffirmations were held at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church,Kansas City on Thursday, November 2, 2017. Taking part were members of St. Mary’s, Kansas City; Church of the Resurrection, Blue Springs; Church of the Good Shepherd, Kansas City; and Trinity, Independence.

St. Mary’s, Kansas City

On Thursday November 2, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, hosted diocesan Area Confirmations Image credit: Gary Allman

Confirmed: Thomas Ham, Erica Hurst, Betty Iorg, Spencer Jasper, Isaac Petty, Matthew Plummer, Levi Tosh.
Received: William Govered.

Church of the Resurrection, Blue Springs

On Thursday November 2, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, hosted diocesan Area Confirmations Image credit: Gary Allman

Confirmed: Jayden Morris.
Received: Sherrie Brooks, Lyn Jandt.

Church of The Good Shepherd, Kansas City

On Thursday November 2, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, hosted diocesan Area Confirmations Image credit: Gary Allman

Received: Janet Moore, Marcia Applegate.

Trinity, Independence

On Thursday November 2, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, hosted diocesan Area Confirmations Image credit: Gary Allman

Received: Dayton Saunders, Hedda Sutherland.
Reaffirmed: Joyce Gillespie, Maudie Saunders.

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri.


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Ordinations at the Diocesan Convention Eucharist

Photographs: Gary Zumwalt Ten-minute read.   Resources

L-R The Rev. Larry Ehren, Bishop Marty, Fr. Jonathan Callison and The Rev. Kary Mann Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

On the Evening of November 3, 2017, during the diocesan convention opening Eucharist, Fr. Jonathan Callison was received into The Episcopal Church, and Larry Ehren and Kary (Karen) Mann were ordained into the diaconate.

Below you can read a little bit about each of them written in their own words.

Fr. Jonathan Callison

Fr. Jonathan Callison with Bishop Marty Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

My call to priesthood in the Episcopal Church is the story of seeds planted; some bore fruit, others may have gone awry, but God will get some harvest from me I pray! Very early in my life, I remember attending Mass with my Grandmother and praying the Rosary with her. She was a farmer and rancher from Western Kansas and a faithful communicant of St. Joseph’s Church in Ashland. She was a patient woman of prayer, compassion, and endurance. I remember, too, my experience attending Mass with my mother and siblings. We were a handful but she persevered! She took our formation in the faith seriously but also taught us to think about what we were asked to believe.

I attended Catholic schools and couldn’t wait for the day to serve Mass as an acolyte. The dedication and compassion of the priests and sisters that I came to know informed my life in ways that will be with me always. I remember asking – 2nd grade, I think- if dolphins were aware enough to be baptized. I don’t remember my pastor’s answer, but I still wonder at the incredible mercy of God, redeeming all creation. It was that sense of compassion and nurture, so strong in my rather matriarchal family that inclined my heart toward service. Others in my parish as a young man noticed my sensitivity and asked me to consider a call to the priesthood.

My years in the seminary were some of the most amazing of my life. I grew as a person and, eventually, after ordination, as a deacon and then priest. The people I ministered to formed me, and I will never forget those early lessons as a young priest. One of the lessons I learned was transparency and openness. I eventually had to come out to my bishop and share the growing concerns that I had about my sexual orientation and call to celibacy. Bishop Stanley was a loving, pastoral bishop, and he made sure I got the counseling I needed and the leave of absence to explore this new awareness of myself. I did not return to ordained ministry as he had hoped, but the seeds so many planted were not in vain. They just took a while to grow and mature.

Some years later, my partner and I were looking for a spiritual home and my sister, Heather — Yes! I notice the pattern of female evangelists in my life! — suggested the Anglican way. I have found it to be the way that I can most closely follow Jesus as a member of the Body of Christ. I will be forever grateful to the openness and love of reason, as well as Scripture and Tradition that inform our Anglican way. Chris and I were received into the Episcopal Church and have received so many blessings, especially the blessing of our marriage, surrounded by our parish family. In 2016, after much prayerful reflection with my family, my husband, and my parish family, I entered a process of discernment that culminated at the last diocesan convention.

I rejoice to serve this diocese as a presbyter of the Church, and I pray that all those seeds of mercy and compassion, planted by so many at so many times in my life, may finally bear fruit. Please pray for me as I preach, bless and preside at the Holy Sacraments.

May God be blessed Who is Compassionate and Merciful!

The Rev. Larry Ehren

The Rev. Larry Ehren with Bishop Marty Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

My first introduction to the Commission on Ministry was: “His is a unique situation.” To be honest, I was unsure how to understand that. Was I a stranger from a strange land, a variation of an adult mutant ninja turtle, or some other version of a church oddity? I chose to understand this as having a unique history and background in approaching ordination in The Episcopal Church.

The reality is that I was approved for ordination in the Roman Catholic Church exactly forty years ago. After ten years of education and formation in the Jesuit order, it was normal to be ordained a priest. I found myself struggling at that moment of my journey with a continued commitment to celibacy while being drawn to marriage and family life. All the while, I sensed a desire to serve in ministry. I completed my M.Div. at Boston College, and sought helpful guidance. This was a delicate moment of discernment in my life, and clearly a turning point.

Many years have passed since that time. For over ten years, I was a lay professional minister in Catholic parishes and on the Bishop’s staff here in Kansas City. I completed my MBA at Rockhurst University during that time in organizational development. My aim was to learn how the church could be more effective in its mission. I then served one year in Missouri State government, a time that clarified my call to return to formal ministry. I followed good advice to pursue a year-long Clinical Pastoral Education residency, which I did in a large medical center in San Francisco. It was there that I met fellow resident chaplain Christy Dorn, now my wife. We have been married over twenty years, roughly the same time she has been an Episcopal Priest. Our marriage has included the adoption of two daughters from China. Family life and ministry seem to be my rightful path in life.

After my clinical training, I served for over twenty five years as a board certified chaplain, Vice President of Mission or Director of Chaplaincy in several medical centers. My last position was Director of Spiritual Care at Truman Medical Center, Hospital Hill in Kansas City.

On my return to Kansas City, I experienced a renewal in my own spiritual journey. Although I was involved in the Episcopal Church for many years due to Christy’s ministry, I finally sought to be formally received at Easter Vigil in our own cathedral five years ago. Dean Peter DeVeau and I facilitated the Adult Catechumenate, called ‘The Way’, for a number of years together. I pursued Anglican Studies at Bishop Kemper School for Ministry and began the ordination process. I am currently half way through my Doctor of Ministry studies in Christian Spirituality at Virginia Theological Seminary. I look forward to many years ahead as an ordained person in The Episcopal Church.

And yes — what a unique but meaningful journey it has been — and it will continue to be!

The Rev. Kary Mann

The Rev. Kary Mann with Bishop Marty Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

I was born and raised in Olathe, Kansas. I remember feeling called to ministry at a very young age but I was not closely affiliated with any church at that time. After graduating from high school, I left Kansas City for about 10 years. Initially, I attended Fort Hayes State University and completed my general studies requirements. While attending college I was deeply involved in youth ministry. Eventually, I returned to Kansas City and earned a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine from the Cleveland University, Kansas City. I had my own practice for six years. During that time I began teaching biology at Colorado Technical University. This opportunity allowed me to discover that teaching was my passion. Healing and teaching, hmmm, not an accident I would say. I’m currently working as an adjunct professor of biology at Metropolitan Community College, Penn Valley.

The year was 2008 and as I was driving past St. Mary Magdalene every day to go to work I felt God nudging me toward the church and possible ministry. I began attending worship. It was the ancient liturgy that spoke to my heart. After about a year, I talked to Fr. Jason Lewis about my feeling of a call to ministry. I began an informal discernment process with Fr. Jason and Deacon Peisha, and a year later, I started the process in earnest. At that time Fr. Jason accepted a call with the Diocese of Kentucky – and I was without a sponsor and Mary Mag was without a priest. My forward progress was stalled for about six months. Finally, I asked Fr. Marshall Scott if he would be my presenting priest, and he agreed. So with support from Mtr. Virginia Brown, as my spiritual director, and Fr. Marshall as my presenting priest, I began the multiple twists and turns that would lead to ordination.

I thought I would attend Sewanee: University of the South, but God had another plan, as He called me to Bishop Kemper School for Ministry (BKSM). I was drawn to this new and potentially powerful idea of priestly formation that would allow postulants to keep their jobs while preparing to serve as bi-vocational priests that would then meet a great need in the church. I started BKSM and became a postulant. At the end of my first year I was clear as to my call, that of becoming a bi-vocational priest. I completed my studies on May 13, 2017 and was ordained a deacon on November 3, 2017. I am currently completing my transitional deaconate at St. Paul’s in Lee’s Summit. I am grateful for all the positive and powerful mentors in The Diocese of West Missouri. I feel I am in good hands. God willing, I hope to be ordained into the Sacred Order of Presbyters mid-year, 2018.

Gary Zumwalt is a member of the Church of the Resurrection, Blue Springs. He volunteers his time and talents to document diocesan events in pictures.


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Diocesan Youth Gathering and the 2017 Bishop’s Ball

Josh Trader Five-minute read.   Resources

Bishop’s Ball 2017 Image credit: Gary Allman

What does the birth of Jesus mean to you? What was it like to be a disciple? How can we relate Jesus’ miracles to life today? What was it like to be there when Jesus was nailed to the cross? This year youth and volunteers sought to answer some of these questions at the Diocesan Youth Gathering.

Friday evening youth and adults from around the diocese gathered at Saint Paul’s, Lee’s Summit, for the Diocesan Youth Gathering. Our weekend began with a balloon scavenger hunt throughout the church involving word puzzles and ending our first evening with Compline lead by the members of the Youth Ministry Commission (YMC). On Saturday morning, we led Morning Prayer at the diocesan convention. Once we arrived back at Saint Paul’s, we began our journey through a series of stations in four rooms.

The first station (room) focused on discussing the life of Jesus from his birth to the Wedding at Cana. While at the first stop, youth discussed what it’s like to be faced with inconveniences, how we respond to them, and where we see Jesus turning the ordinary into extraordinary things.

In the second room, the youth immersed themselves into the story of Jesus calling his disciples and discussing how we can best be a disciple for Christ with ultimately striving to be an apostle.

The third room required the youth to participate at their own pace through a series of stations. Each station invited them to read a passage about one of the many miracles of Jesus followed by an interactive activity. One of the stations that spoke deeply to the participants focused on Jesus stilling the storm and how Jesus stays with us through our fears. At this station, youth were asked to write their fears on dissolving paper and then place them into the water. This allowed the youth to watch their fears disappear while reminding us that Jesus is always still present.

Our last room focused on the Passion of Christ through imaginative prayer. Using this form of prayer, we were able to attempt to feel what it was like to be there during the crucifixion.

Morning Prayer & Diocesan Report

Bishop’s Ball

On Saturday night we were joined by clergy, other youth leaders, parents, former youth, and Bishop Marty and Mrs. Donna Field for the Bishop’s Ball. YMC members Brett Wilson and Marie Evans did an outstanding job as our emcees for the evening as we started with serving dinner. One of the highlights of the ball is the annual awards ceremony. Our honorees this year were; Christine Escobar and Brett Wilson for Outstanding YMC Member, Lily Julian and Isabelle Morrison for Outstanding Youth, Spencer J.T. Orr for Outstanding Volunteer, and Mother Megan Castellan was the recipient of the Purple Cross. Bishop Marty surprised everyone with an award of his own, by presenting the very deserving Duchess Wall with the Bishop’s Shield for her countless years of dedication to the young people of our diocese.

Josh Trader is Youth Network Coordinator for The Diocese of West Missouri and a member of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Springfield.


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Bishop’s Shield Recipient – Duchess Wall

Bishop’s Shield Recipient Duchess Wall with Bishop Marty. Bishop’s Ball 2017 Image credit: Gary Allman

Each year, it is my honor as Bishop to consider the presentation of a special award to folks from around our diocese. The award is known as “The Bishop’s Shield”. It is awarded to those who have contributed significant and sustained leadership in the life of the diocese (or in the life of the general church beyond the diocese) for which they were not compensated. This award may go alike to members of the clergy or members of the lay order. The key criteria are those words in boldface above: significant, sustained, and leadership. Nominees for the award are solicited each fall from the clergy of the diocese and from past, Bishop’s Shield recipients (who serve as a nominating committee of sorts), but anyone may nominate a person they believe to match the criteria. Usually, the awarding of Bishop’s Shields takes place at the banquet on the first evening of the diocese’s Annual Convention.

This year only one person was nominated who met the criteria, and it was immediately crystal clear that awarding the Bishop’s Shield at the banquet would not be as appropriate as another, very available setting.

Each year the youth of the diocese come together on the same weekend as our Annual Convention for a Diocesan Youth Gathering (or “D.Y.G.” as it is more commonly known). The person who was nominated and selected was going to be volunteering as a youth leader at DYG, so the Saturday evening banquet at DYG was the perfect place to present the award.

Here’s what I said on that occasion:

“Tonight, I have the honor of presenting the Bishop’s Shield to someone who is here at the DYG banquet. Before I announce his name, I want to share with you some of the things this person’s nominators wrote about him, and there were several nominators.

‘I have to wonder how many hours each day this person is in intercessory prayer. It must be a substantial portion of his waking hours. If he says, “I’m praying for you,” he really is praying every day. And you’d better let him know if your problem has been relieved, or he’ll still be praying for you next year.

What a privilege it is to be his priest. He brings to me people … who need God’s help so that I can pray for them too. Often, it is his presence in the lives of others that is the avenue of God’s grace in their lives, and his loving relationship with many who are now adults, whom he has known since he was their teacher in grade school, is what often keeps them on healthy paths. Sometimes, I think that God uses his loving obedience as the answer to those prayers.

His ministry to youth in the diocese is legendary. He is part of everything youth-related and has been for decades. Whenever I have attended a diocesan youth event, he is there. From planning events to taking aside a single kid who needs special attention, he is there. Whenever the other youth leaders need a leader, he is there, and has been for decades.’

Have you guessed yet? Would it help, if I told you that ‘he’ is actually a ‘she’? Now do you know? To end the suspense, it is my great pleasure to announce to you the newest recipient of the Bishop’s Shield is Duchess Wall.”

ASIDE – this announcement was followed by squeals of delight, thunderous applause, and a roar of approval from the youth and adult leaders present. Duchess responded with open-mouthed disbelief. After placing the award around her neck, I continued …

“My introduction to this award was written by Fr. Jonathan Frazier, the Rector of St. Peter & All Saints, KC, Duchess’ home parish. I played fast and loose with the pronouns to enhance the surprise, but I am grateful to Fr. Jonathan and the many folks who think so highly of Duchess that they nominated her for a Bishop’s Shield.

Here are a sample of more comments from Duchess’ many nominators:

‘If there are youth involved in any kind of activity in the Diocese of West Missouri, Duchess Wall has been, is, and always will be there. The fact that she has been and still is a teacher and can walk into almost any school and see “her kids” is amazing. At times it seems that Duchess invented the Youth Group! Those of us in our late 50s, and our grandchildren as well, know Miss Duchess as a Youth leader. She will share stories with you about her kids that are veterinarians, teachers, nurses, and priests. We will never outgrow being her kids and that’s absolutely fine with us! From Happening to Cliff Springs, from Missionpalooza to WEMO, from EYE to parish lock-ins, “Duchess is here, we can start now!”’

Ann Lagrange, vestry member, St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City

‘What can one say about Duchess Wall? I have known her many years, and of course, there are stories, but nothing speaks more about her than what she has done for and with all of the youths in this Diocese for a long time now. When asked to help with any youth event, her answer is always “yes”. So many children who have become adults now in this diocese know her still as Miss Duchess, including my own adult children. I still call her that myself all the time. She never tires of serving the youth of the Diocese of West Missouri, and we are indeed blessed by her presence with those youth for all of these many years.’

Rob Walker, Clerk of the Vestry, St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City

‘What a wonderful choice Duchess is to be a nominee for the Bishop’s Shield. Though my history with Duchess is shorter than others, I have been able to observe Duchess as well as spend some time with her to know some of her spiritual heart and love for the Church and especially the youth of our parish and Diocese. I have never seen Duchess without a smile. Ever. She speaks and thinks so caringly about others and especially of children and young people. Her background in education seems to have been less of a job to her and more of pure passion. She has great empathy for children. Her work with youth groups goes back years. She willingly and selflessly still gives of her time and talents for encouraging and directing youth activities. She is a great example of God’s love to them. Duchess and I were in a small group during one Advent season doing some spiritual direction. I remember thinking her heart and spirit shine through her eyes and smile. She lives her faith and spreads a positive spirit in all that she gives. She believes in her faith wholeheartedly and by that she is contagious in her love of Jesus. She ends all her e-mails “Jesus loves you more”. Unspoken and in speaking she talks with grace and truth. She has been and continues to be a special advocate, leader, and teacher of young people.’

Carol Miller, Sr. Warden, St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City

‘Right Reverend Sir, I would like to nominate Duchess Wall for a Bishop’s Shield award. Duchess has been a stalwart of youth ministry in the Diocese of West Missouri for the more than 30 years I have known her. She has seen all the changes in youth ministry in the diocese, from the early days of Cliff Springs Camp through the early days of Happening being introduced in the diocese. She has continued to be involved as youth ministry participation has risen and fallen through the years. She continues to be involved to this day as a chaperone at youth events. Her ministry of presence for those she refers to as “my kids” has never lagged. I know that I would not be the person I am today without her ministry of presence in my life, both as a youth participating in the diocesan youth ministry program in the 1980s and early 1990s and as a someone still involved in youth ministry today. All of this work is in addition to her ministry at her local congregations of All Saints, Kansas City, and now at St. Peter & All Saints, Kansas City.’

Curtis Hamilton, Secretary of the Diocese & member of Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City

Congratulations, Duchess, and thank you for your many years of caring for and nurturing the youth of West Missouri. Your Bishop’s Shield is well deserved and fully earned. May God bless your future ministry in the name of Christ Jesus.

The Rt. Rev. Martin Scott Field (Bishop Marty) is the eighth bishop of The Diocese of West Missouri.

Installation of Fr. Jos Tharakan at St. James’, Springfield

Fr. Jos Tharakan Five-minute read.   Resources

Fr. Jos Tharakan was installed as the new rector at St. James’ Episcopal Church, Springfield, Missouri on December 1, 2017 Image credit: Gary Allman

Fr. Jos Tharakan was installed as the new rector at St. James’ Episcopal Church, Springfield, Missouri on December 1, 2017.


About Fr. Jos Tharakan

Fr. Jos Tharakan Image credit: Gary Allman

I was born in Kerala, India into a Roman Catholic Family. I went to a Capuchin Seminary at the age of 15 and was ordained a priest at 30. I then served in many congregations in Kerala and northern India before being called to serve in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas in 1997. I served in Fort Smith until 2001.

I came into the Episcopal Church in 2004 after completing two years of Clinical Pastoral Education in San Antonio, Texas and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. After being received into the Episcopal Church, Bishop Larry Maze appointed me as Missionary Chaplain to Christ Church, Mena. Later on, I was called as the rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Russellville, Arkansas. Where I served for ten years. 

While I was at All Saints’, I founded the House Of Blessings Foundation, a retreat and renewal center in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I also founded a Clergy Vacation Home, for pastors in active ministry so that they can take a few days of rest and renew themselves and their families. It is free for any priest/pastor in active ministry.

I love art, music, and design. I’ve developed several educational programs, composed music, and designed websites. My educational program called, CAMPaM: A Complimentary Alternative Method for Pastoral Ministry is approved for continuing education for chaplains, pastors and other healthcare professionals through the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. I presented this innovative program to the National Conference of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains in Kansas City, Kansas. 

I also produce Episcopal Daily, an aggregation of news, articles, stories and videos suggested by Episcopal bishops, clergy, and laity from across the world. It is available by email and online for anyone interested in knowing what Episcopalians are doing around the world.

I have two children. Asha (a girl, Hope, 13), Amrit (a boy, Divine Nectar, 9). They attend school in Springfield and are involved in youth programs in the Southern Deanery and children’s ministries at St. James. 

I believe in ‘God in all things, and people of all kinds,’ a Thomistic Theological conviction I coined as a slogan for the Episcopal Church’s attitude towards the world when the Rt. Rev. Katherine Schori visited Little Rock after she was elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. My motto in ministry is “Passionate personal Love for Jesus and His people.” I’m excited to be the rector of St. James, a community that lives the gospel and loves the people. 

Fr. Jos is rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Springfield.

Installation of Fr. Jim Lile at All saints’, Nevada

Gary Allman One-minute read.   Resources

The Installation of the Rev. Dr. James Lile, Jr. as Rector at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Nevada, Missouri Image credit: Gary Allman

The Installation of the Rev. Dr. James Lile, Jr. as Rector at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Nevada, Missouri took place on Sunday December 3, 2017.


Gary Allman is Director of Communications with The Diocese of West Missouri.