To the Members of the Dioceses of Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, and Milwaukee
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. We hope most of you have heard by now that the three Episcopal dioceses of Wisconsin have entered conversation about the possibility of returning to our roots and reuniting back into one diocese. In the 21st century, the church faces a changing landscape; our society is becoming increasingly secular and commitment to the church is no longer a given.
One way or another, the church must adapt to better engage the world with the resurrection hope we have in Jesus Christ. What worked in one generation will not automatically work as well in this one and generations to come. Jesus is the same from generation to generation, but how we are organized to faithfully bear witness to the kingdom of God he proclaimed and how we worship the triune God might well change.
At the end of 2020, the Rt. Rev. Jay Lambert of the Diocese of Eau Claire and the Rt. Rev. Steven Miller of the Diocese of Milwaukee both retired, which resulted in two of the three dioceses of Wisconsin being without bishops. That presented what seems like an opportunity to explore the future of the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin. Indeed, we believe the opportunity is providential. Might the Holy Spirit be inviting us to look afresh at being the church in our time? How might our combined assets – financial and human resources – be used to support each of our existing congregations and encourage the beginning of new congregations or communities that might look more or less like church as we know it? Or perhaps even communities of faith that look quite different from the church as we know it today? How might we be better public witnesses and agents of hope in Wisconsin? The time is right to look at these and other questions.
A steering committee has been formed as well as several task forces have been appointed to explore different aspects of a possible reunion. The task forces will be addressing many of the practical aspects of reunion, such as addressing the constitutions and canons, working through all the financial details, and the culture and mission of the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin. Each of those task forces will be soliciting input and participation from members of each diocese.
We will continue to update members of the diocese with information about the process and opportunities for you to participate in this discernment. We are currently building a website hub for you to learn more about and engage in the process. We will share that with you soon.
We urge you to be engaged and participate in this process of discernment. Most especially, we encourage you to pray. Steeping our discernment in prayer will better enable us to hear what the Holy Spirit is calling us to be.
Faithfully in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter
Bishop of the Diocese of Fond du Lac
Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Eau Claire
The Rt. Rev. Jeffery Lee
Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Milwaukee