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During the period of January 23-25 the Diocesan Council, Bishop’s Council (Council of Deans) and the Mission Development Committee held important meetings. Each of the meetings resulted in important decisions for Diocesan parishes and for a stronger future for the Diocese.

Mission Development Committee Expanded to “Mission AND Parish Development” 

In recent years the Mission Development Committee, consisting of the Archbishop, Chancellor, two deans, and two members of the Diocesan Council, has overseen the work of the Diocese’ 12 missions and three mission stations. This includes reviewing reports from Missions, providing guidance and feedback and defining practices for keeping good order in the Diocese’ efforts to plant missions that grow into healthy parishes.  This group also determines the amount of annual support grants to be provided to missions during the upcoming July to June period.

At the January meeting the following actions were taken and recommendations offered:
  • All five mission support grant requests were approved.
  • This committee also recommended to the Diocesan Council that the mission development and parish development efforts of the Diocese be merged into one cohesive unit.
  • The focus of the Mission Development Committee should be expanded to include Parish and Mission Development and that the committee be renamed to reflect this focus and the Diocesan budget item labeled "Missions" would be then be used not only for Mission funding but also for various parish development efforts.  This decision will allow the Diocese to continue the Parish Health Grant effort begun in 2008.
  • The Diocese’ “Mission Endowment Fund”, a fund separate from the Diocese’ operating budget, be designated as the Parish and Mission Development fund. The Diocesan Council would have authority to use up to 10% of the principal per year for Diocesan needs. 
  • Fr. Thomas Mueller, dean of Chicago Deanery, will become the coordinator of the reformatted committee which will now oversee mission development as well as serving as an advisory body for the Diocese’ Parish Health Ministry.
Parish Health Inventory
Parish Health Inventory
Parish Health Inventory
Bishop’s Council Strongly Encourages Use of Parish Health Inventory

The Bishop’s Council, an advisory group to the Archbishop, made up of the six District Deans, met with Archbishop JOB on Tuesday January 27.

One important matter discussed by the Bishop's Council was the recently completed Parish Health Inventory Model which was a product of last summer’s Parish Health Summit held in Wheaton IL. The Council expressed the feeling that the model is a helpful tool for parishes and enthusiastically recommended its use by parishes throughout the Diocese.

In concurrence with these discussions Archbishop JOB strongly encourages each parish to review its life in the context of the eight focus areas presented in the model and to use the model to identify one or two key priorities and action areas as the focus for renewal efforts for 2009 and beyond.

Diocesan Council Sets Agenda for Strategic Plan

In addition to endorsing the above mentioned recommendations of the (renamed) Parish and Mission Development Committee, the Diocesan Council meeting on Wednesday Jan 28 also took up the need for expressing a healthy hopeful future vision and plan for the Diocese.

The importance of expressing a future direction for the Diocese was discussed at the 2008 Diocesan Assembly in Willow Brook IL along with the need to prepare for an effective and smooth transition to a new Diocesan Hierarch after the announced retirement of Archbishop JOB on or about 2011.

Additionally the recent decision by the Orthodox Church in America to build an OCA Strategic Plan was felt to be an important driver encouraging our Diocese to explore its future vision. Considering vision topics in parallel with OCA efforts would enable the Diocese to productively contribute to the OCA planning effort and to align the Diocese' vision with the emerging OCA plan.

The Diocesan Council decided to begin a vision definition effort for the Diocese. The last such effort had been undertaken in the Diocese in 2003 and focused primarily on reformation of the Diocesan budget.

The following schedule was established.
  • During the period from February through May the Diocesan facilitator will collect inputs from Diocesan and Bishop’s Council members concerning targets for the vision effort – namely “what are the key issues we are facing” and “what important questions should be answered by our vision and planning efforts”.
  • At the May 2009 meetings of Diocesan and Bishop’s Councils and the Parish/Mission Development Committee substantial portions of each body’s agendas will be dedicated to the vision and planning topic.

  • Based on the results of these discussions, subgroups may be commissioned to explore key issues and efforts will be undertaken to engage deaneries in the discussion and exploration process as well. 

A target of being able to present “important progress”  on this at effort at the October 2009 Diocesan Assembly was adopted.
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