It was reported in October that members of the Diocese of Fond du Lac responded generously to the appeal for our companion Anglican Diocese of Masvingo. An additional $5,000 was received in October and November and been sent to the diocese. Over 115 people responded to the appeal raising nearly $25,000 to assist with the need of our companion diocese. This special appeal exceeded funds raised during 2019's Bishop Appeal and reflects the commitment of the people of the Diocese of Fond du Lac to support the broader church beyond our local community. Gifts will continue to be received and forwarded.
The Rev. William L. Bulson has accepted a call to serve as Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Sheboygan.
Originally from Kentucky, Bulson has degrees in Russian literature and Slavic linguistics from the University of Kentucky in Lexington and The Ohio State University in Columbus. This included brief study in Moscow with the Pushkin Institute. He received his Master of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary, and has served parishes in Appalachia, Minnesota, and Japan, mostly in multi-ethnic and multilingual congregations. With the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota Fr. Bulson co-translated the Book of Common Prayer into Hmong.
Fr. William served as Rector most recently at St. Alban’s Anglican-Episcopal Church in Tokyo, Japan. He has been an Oblate with the Order of St. Julian of Norwich in White Lake, WI since 2008.
Fr. Bulson’s first Sunday presiding at Grace was the First Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2020.
Grace Episcopal Church is a parish church of the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac, established in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 1847 in the Anglo-Catholic tradition . It is a worship community of 200 baptized members with an average Sunday attendance of 100. Located on Sheboygan's lakeside just north of downtown, its members are dedicated to "to bring all persons to the knowledge and love of God, and to respect the dignity and freedom of every human being."
Learn more about Grace here.
Read the letter to the congregation about Fr. Bulson's call here.
Bishop Matt has released an update letter on the status of the pandemic and its impact on in-person worship in the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac
The Task Force has released a 15-minute video with an overview of its work in advising the Bishop in developing guidelines for the congregations of the diocese. The video explains how the Task Force works with three criteria: medically safe, theologically sound and pastorally sensitive. Hear from Bishop Gunter, Dr. Lauderdale, Fr. Arnold and Mthr. Burkert-Brist as they provide information on the response to the pandemic.
The Executive Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac has released the approved 2021 Clergy Minimum Compensation and Benefits schedule which provides a 1.5% increase to the base. The schedule provides minimum compensation for clergy working full-time. Two scales are provided: one for clergy who live in church provided housing and the other for clergy providing their own housing. The compensation increases with the cleric's years of credited service. Congregations with clergy working less than full-time are encouraged to provide for compensation on a proportional basis.
In additional to details on clergy compensation and benefits (pension, insurance, etc...), comparison information is also provided. The Finance Committee reviews key compensation information when preparing a recommendation to the Council including federal poverty guidelines, Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), and national Episcopal clergy compensation reported by the Church Pension Fund. Based on the best information available, clergy of the diocese receive adequate compensation, although slightly below the national median.
While specifically for minimum compensation, many congregations follow its recommendation adjustment to change compensation for their cleric. Each diocesan congregation does meet the minimum with a majority exceeding them. The impact of the pandemic on giving in most congregations has been minimal in 2020, though it may impact giving more in 2021.
Download the scale and information here.
Each week, the diocesan Covid Task Force receives an informational update on the status of the pandemic in Wisconsin compiled by one of the Task Force's doctors. This report captures information from many sources. To allow comparison with other states and countries, the new case number is converted to cases per million. To help our clergy and congregations be as fully informed as possible, this report will be made available each week on the diocesan Covid webpage at diofdl.org/covid.
Bishop Matt Gunter is calling the people of the Diocese of Fond du Lac to pray for the election taking place November 3rd. A Season of Prayer resource offers a new prayer each day starting October 9th. To download this resource, as well as other voter education resources for people of faith, visit diofdl.org/votingresources.
The sharing of blessings was bountiful as members of the Diocese of Fond du Lac responded to the appeal for the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo. In late August, Bishop Godfrey Tawonezvi reached out because his diocese was "struggling financially under the current circumstances of economic meltdown in the country coupled with the pandemic of COVID19." Bishop Matt Gunter immediately launched an appeal. In less than a month, 100 people responded, raising nearly $20,000 to assist with the need of our companion diocese.
"It is amazing how the people of this diocese respond to need," Bishop Matt noted. "It is encouraging that when our brothers and sisters ask for help, we respond in a way that shows a high level of caring and reflects a love of God and our neighbor."
Gifts to the Masvingo Appeal continue to be received and an additional international wire transfer will be made at the end of October.
Following consideration by the diocesan Covid Task Force of the increased rates of infection along with a variety of other factors, Bishop Matt has determined a strengthening of pandemic related limitations for congregations. These changes go into effect on September 29, 2020, will be temporary, with details published in a revised Back to the Buildings policy document.
The significant change is in returning to the limit of 4 persons being physically present in congregations who offer in-person worship. Such in-person is limited to Sunday services only. "Returning to 4 participants at Sunday worship is intended to make the safest environment for our members while continuing to offer the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist," Bishop Matt noted. "As our Prayer Book notes, the Holy Eucharist is the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord’s Day, and this small assembly is able to represent the whole congregation at the Altar."
Not all congregations may offer in-person worship and that is perfectly acceptable. In-person participation is strictly voluntary and no one, including our clergy, should feel, or be made to feel, obliged to be physically present. A number of diocesan congregations livestream their in-person services so praying with them is encouraged. Those who do offer in-person services are encouraged to integrate additional participants virtually, as able.
Another change is that all other in-person church activities are suspended. The church office may remain open as long as the guidelines in the policy document are followed.
An addition to the policy is being made. Permission is now given to Reserve the Blessed Sacrament in the form of consecrated bread. This allows clergy to be able share communion when it is pastorally appropriate, such as at the time of death.
Bishop Matt offers these words of encouragement to the diocese: "As we continue to grapple with the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic, let us not become discouraged. Let us acknowledge whatever anxiety, frustration of loss we are experiencing. We can offer all of that at the feet of Jesus asking for his healing and peace. We know that he is with us. Trusting him and encouraging one another we can continue to make our way together through this season of challenge. By the Holy Spirit, Jesus is with us. Jesus is with you. The way before us is not straightforward or altogether clear. But Jesus goes before us to prepare a way. If we keep our eyes on him, he will see us through."
The Rev. Dcn. Dale Hutjens has announced, and Bishop Matt Gunter has accepted, his resignation from active ministry as a Deacon of the church. Resigning is the canonical term, but is similar to retiring. He continues to be a Deacon, but will not be assigned to a particular congregation or ministry by the bishop. He was assigned to St. Anne's, De Pere since 2003. He also worked for a time with the people of St. Paul's, Suamico while their Vicar was ill.
Hutjens was received into the Episcopal Church at St. Anne's, De Pere in 1993. He became an active lay leader. He served as a lay reader, lay eucharistic visitor, a number of outreach programs and served on the Vestry. He was active in maintaining the building and grounds. After completing the diocesan School for Christian Studies, he was ordained a deacon on August 30, 2003.
As a Deacon Dale continued to serve at St. Anne's and was active in diocesan ministry. He was on the Deacons Council, Companion Diocese Task Force and worked on Happening for High School Youth. After retiring from his secular job in 2014, he pedaled his bike 4,253 miles across America on the TransAmericaTrail to raise awareness of Episcopal Relief and Development. He recently biked from De Pere to the Diocesan Office in Appleton for a visit.
He and his wife, Winnie, continue to live in De Pere and will continue to be a part of the life of St. Anne's. They have two adult children.
Dear brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Fond du Lac,
The shooting this past Sunday of Jacob Blake in Kenosha places violence, racism, policing, protesting, rioting, and looting in front of us again. There is a lot we do not know, and we expect there will be a full and just enquiry into it all. But any shooting is tragic. And given what we have seen in recent months a black man being shot in the back is disturbing.
It is also disturbing that out-of-state armed vigilantes were allowed to wander the streets after curfew, leading to the killing of two people and the wounding of another. That the shooter was white and able to walk away without interference from the police is troubling.
We know that police work can be dangerous. And most police officers intend good. Still, there are policies for the legitimate use of potentially lethal force. When we see repeated examples of excessive use of force, disproportionately toward people of color, we sense that something must change. We can appreciate and support the work that police officers do while also seeking reform for better policing practices.
Our African-American brothers and sisters report a pattern of violence and mistreatment by too many police officers. This causes grief, anger, outrage, and fear. We can disapprove of rioting, violence, and looting while also supporting legitimate protest against mistreatment. Sadly, the stories of their own experiences of mistreatment are not hard to come by from people of color. For the sake of truth and love, we need to listen to their stories.
There has been progress in race relations in our society, yet racism remains pervasive. Our diocesan Mosaic Task Force continues to work to help us listen, learn, and better understand the persistence of racism. We must reflect with rigorous honesty upon our own racial prejudices – as we do with every sinful tendency.
Whatever else we know about Mr. Blake, he is a child of God, beloved by Jesus. As Christians we are called to love him. We pray for him.
Whatever else we know about Officer Sheskey, he is a child of God, beloved by Jesus. As Christians we are called to love him. We pray for him.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to pray and to love. We are called to be people of the truth – even when it is inconvenient. We are called to care and to seek justice – especially for the people society does not seem to care about. I call on us to commit ourselves to being such a people. Pray for peace; pray for justice.
This year's Bishop's Annual Appeal calls for diocesan members to give to their congregation beyond normal giving, give to the United Thank Offering (UTO), and to pray. We are grateful for those who have given, and renew the appeal to give as you are able. We will announce the UTO gifts received at the diocesan Eucharistic Festival August 29 so encourage you to give to the United Thank Offering online. You may identify your diocese and congregation. Help us exceed any past totals and give to UTO today!
St. John's Episcopal Church, New London has released its profile in the search for its next Vicar. The profile is at diofdl.org/newlondonsearch and may be downloaded as a PDF or read on the page. Additional information about New London is also available.
The Covid Task Force of the Diocese of Fond du Lac released "Back to the Buildings" with guidance for congregations for in-person worship. The guidelines limit the number of participants to 10 with additional directions for reducing the risk of transmission to provide the safest worship environment we are able to. These include social distancing, face coverings, use of hand sanitizer, and one-way traffic to name a few. Some congregations have started in-person worship, many have chosen to wait, and some are still considering the course of action they wish to take.
When the number of new cases of Covid-19 in the State of Wisconsin trends down over a two-week period, the Task Force will determine if the number of persons for in-person activities will increase.
Why two weeks? Many factors impact trends, but based on past numbers, it appears two weeks is a long enough window to see a trend as compared to day to day variations.
Why Wisconsin (and not counties)? More data results in better reliability. County by county numbers can be helpful for determining hot spots, but not as reliable in determining trends. There are limitations for trend determination from population size and that people don't limit travel and interactions to those only from one county.
This criteria of a two-week trend does not mean we increase immediately. It means it is the point when the Task Force will examine the various factors to determine if moving is warranted. For example, if new cases doubled each week over 4 weeks followed by a slow decrease over 2 weeks, it is unlikely the limit would change because the total number of people with the virus would be much higher than it is today. Another example: if the rate declined over 2 weeks, but the death rate and hospitalization rate increased, these increased might lead the Task Force to decide not to change the 10 person limitation.
The Task Force recognizes there is a desire to worship in-person. It also recognizes doing so should not create unnecessary risk to the health and well-being of those worshipers. Please be assured that members of the Task Force consider these factors as it continues to deliberate the best course of action for the congregations of the Diocese of Fond du Lac.
Grace Episcopal Church, Sheboygan, has released its profile in the search for its next Rector. The profile is at diofdl.org/sheboygansearch and may be downloaded as a PDF or read on the page. Additional information about Sheboygan is also available.
The Rev. Erin Kirby, Rector of St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Minocqua has announced acceptance of a call to serve St. John's Episcopal Church, Marion, North Carolina. Mthr. Erin has served as Rector of St. Matthias since 2015. She has been active in the community and the diocese, serving as Chair of the Mosaic Task Force and on the Executive Council. Her final Sunday with St. Matthias is July 26. May God continue to bless Erin in continuing to serve in ordained ministry.
God was willing and the people consented. On Saturday, July 18, 2020 the Right Reverend Matthew A. Gunter, Eighth Bishop of Fond du Lac, ordained Nicole Misoni Beeck to the Sacred Order of Deacons in Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The ordination service took place at Grace Episcopal Church, Sheboygan and was livestreamed and may be viewed here. As Bishop Matt noted on Facebook, "We have a new deacon! Congratulations to the Rev Deacon Nicci Beeck. Except for this picture and the actual laying on of hands we maintained proper physical distance throughout"
Deacon Nicci began her discernment towards ordained ministry when she attended a Circles of Light, a discernment process of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. After receiving the needed affirmations, she began the diocesan Deacon School, completing coursework, retreats, and field education and outreach/pastoral care community experience. She was ordained a deacon following approval of the Commission on Ministry, Grace, Sheboygan's Vestry and Rector, Standing Committee and the Bishop.
Bishop Matt has assigned Deacon Nicci to serve at St. Paul's, Plymouth under the authority of Archdeacon Michele Whitford, Vicar. She continues to work as parish administrator of Grace, Sheboygan.
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter, diocesan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac, has been nominated by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Eau Claire to become its Provisional Bishop, pending the election at the Diocese of Eau Claire’s diocesan convention in November 2020. He is the only nominee following Eau Claire’s discussion with its four neighboring dioceses. The nomination was made with the assent of the Standing Committee and Executive Council of the Diocese of Fond du Lac and Bishop Gunter has accepted the nomination.
The leadership of both dioceses have begun discussion of specific details for the continuation of Gunter as Bishop of Fond du Lac while serving as Provisional Bishop of Eau Claire. The arrangement of a diocesan Bishop serving as Provisional Bishop of a neighboring diocese is not unknown in the Episcopal Church. Planning will involve both dioceses to provide for a healthy balance for Bishop Gunter while serving the Episcopal needs of the Dioceses of Fond du Lac and Eau Claire.
It is appropriate to acknowledge that over the past 50 years, the dioceses have engaged in conversation and action about shared ministry, including the possibility of junctioning in 2011. It is important to note that while Bishop Gunter will serve both dioceses concurrently, the nomination is made independent of such discussion. Rather, it is made following an intentional transition process developed by the Diocese of Eau Claire, anticipating the retirement of the Rt. Rev. William Jay Lambert, III in November. This does not preclude the possibility that such discussions may occur in the future, but it should be understood that each diocese will remain fully separate, yet continue to walk alongside one another in spreading the Gospel as we have for more than 90 years.
“It is my hope and prayer,” Bishop Gunter shared, “that as a bishop of the Church, I am able to guide and lead each diocese in a way that will strengthen the mission and ministry of the Church in living out the Good News. How each diocese does this will be different, but the goal of spreading the Gospel is the same.”
Additional details will be communicated as they are determined.
The Diocese of Fond du Lac maintains a companion diocese relationship with the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo in Zimbabwe. In late May, Bishop Matt and Bishop Godfrey enjoyed a Zoom conversation prior to Companion Diocese Sunday (watch here). Recently, Bishop Godfrey sent a report about the diocese during the pandemic. The report includes information about the Transfiguration Skills Centre which was supported by the Bishop's Annual Appeal in 2019. Since the relaxation of COVID19 regulations, activities have just started. Production of pigs is already underway. Planting of vegetables in the garden has started. Chicken rearing and egg production will be resumed shortly. There is a vision to have the capacity to supply the surrounding boarding schools with farm produce. Read the complete report, with pictures here.
Prayers are asked for the repose of the soul of the Robyn Meyer who died July 6, 2020. She was 83. Robyn is the wife of the Rev. Canon Robert "Bob" Meyer, retired priest of the diocese, who served St. Mark’s, Waupaca, St. Olaf’s, Amherst , Christ the King, Sturgeon Bay, Holy Nativity, Jacksonport and as a supply priest after retirement in 1995. The Meyer's resided in Tremont, Illinois and she died at Pekin Manor after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
She was born May 10, 1937 in Cook County, IL to Edwin C. and Joy Bacon Witwer of Niles, MI. She married Dr. Robert B. Meyer on February 3, 1962 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Niles, MI. He survives along with one daughter, Valerie (James) Moore of Tremont; three grandsons, Nate Danz, Matthew Moore, and Jason Moore, all of Tremont; and her twin brother, Scott Witwer of Niles, MI. She was preceded in death by her parents and one infant daughter, Albion Gabrielle.
She attended school in Niles and Kemper Hall, Kenosha, WI from which she graduated in 1955. She attended the University of Michigan, Colorado A & M College, where she was a member of Delta Zeta Sorority, and received her B.A. from Western Michigan in 1962.
When her husband left teaching at Monmouth College in Illinois to enter Seminary in New York City, Robin obtained a job with Manufacture Hanover Trust in their International Department as one who “floated” among their various branches in Manhattan. During this time, she foiled two attempted bank robberies. After leaving New York, she worked successively at Community Bank and Swearington Wholesale in Canton, as a receptionist in the Fulton County State’s Attorney’s Office, Lewistown and as the librarian at Lewistown Grade School. When they lived in Missouri, she worked as a “Homemaker for the Elderly” through an entitlement program held by an area nursing home. This proved to be her favorite job as she found her special gift of working with the elderly. She later became a member of the Waupaca County, WI Commission on Aging.
She was an avid reader, enjoyed fishing, and being with her grandchildren. She made Cursillo in 1976 in Peoria and was on teams in Peoria, Western Missouri, and in the Diocese of Fond du lac, WI, where she was Rectora of Monarch Cursillo #16. She was a member of the Rebecca Circle at First English Lutheran Church and a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Peoria, where services will be held after Covid-19 restrictions allow. Visitation will be held at the church prior to the service. Davis-Oswald Funeral Home in Tremont is assisting with the arrangements.
Burial of cremains will he at a later date in Union Cemetery, Oak Harbor, OH.
Memorials may be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Peoria, First English Lutheran Church in Peoria, St. James Episcopal Church in Lewistown, Tremont Rescue 702, the Alzheimer’s Association, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
A special thanks goes to the staff at Heddington Oaks and Pekin Manor for their loving care.
For some, understanding the history of racism in America is hard to grasp. In a recent clergy virtual gathering, Bishop Matt shared a 20-minute video from the creator of Veggie Tales which has informed him about that history with a broader understanding. If you are looking for a better understanding, this video, "Holy Post -Racism in America" is recommended viewing.
The diocesan Covid-19 Task Force has released "Back to the Buildings" here. It provides direction and guidelines for the first stage of in-person gatherings for our church buildings. Congregations need to prepare, so vestries and clergy will need to review the document, determine if they plan to re-open when approved by the Bishop, then determine how to best implement the guidelines and directives in their local context.
No date of return to the church buildings has been decided, but will be no sooner than June 28. This target date allows vestries the time to do the homework, plan, and prepare (for example, getting a supply of hand sanitizer).
The goal is to have gatherings which reduce the risk of transmission as much as possible to create the safest environment for the in-person gathering of the Body of Christ. The document is downloadable here or may be viewed online below.
The Rev. Tyler C. Richards has accepted a call to serve as Rector at St. Anne's Episcopal Church, De Pere.
Fr. Tyler is originally from Alabama. He received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Alabama. He completed a Masters of Divinity at from The School of Theology at The University of The South (Sewanee) currently serves as Rector of Transfiguration Episcopal Church in Indian River of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan.
St. Anne's Episcopal Church has served the De Pere area since 1935 with roots as a worshipping community dating to as early as 1849. It is a worshiping community of 250 baptized members with an average Sunday attendance of 100. Located on De Pere's east side near De Pere High School, it's members are dedicated to being “a Family Living and Growing in Christ.”
Fr. Tyler, his wife Colleen, and their baby daughter Emery will join the St. Anne’s family as soon as circumstance allows, hopefully in July.
Learn more about St. Anne's here.
It was March 16, 2020 in response to the directives from the CDC and governmental agencies that Bishop Matthew Gunter suspended in-person public worship in the Diocese of Fond du Lac. Today, together with the diocesan Covid Task Force, he has released Celebrating Eucharist During the Covid Pandemic to provide direction during the current pandemic situation. The document provides direction by which the Eucharist may be celebrated in a congregation. Offering the Eucharist in this fashion is optional.
"The intent is to allow for the Eucharist, with a small community gathering in-person to represent the congregation as a whole" Bishop Gunter commented. "It is not a return to our regular worship, but the Church providing the opportunity to have Eucharist given our current circumstance." Conditions for the Eucharist include only 3 or 4 persons present for the service who maintain social distance. The directions are within Wisconsin's Stay Safe at Home order and are at least as safe as going to the grocery store.
It is expected that congregations who exercise this option may livestream or record it for online distribution. Those participating online may be using a form of spiritual communion in the Christian tradition: when one is unable — because of some unavoidable exigency — to participate in the Eucharist and/or to physically receive the Sacrament. St Thomas Aquinas once defined Spiritual Communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and in lovingly embracing him as if we had actually received him.” St Teresa of Avila wrote: “When you do not receive communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you.” St Jean Vianney, the Curé d’Ars, wrote “A spiritual communion acts on the soul as blowing does on a cinder-covered fire which was about to go out. Whenever you feel your love of God growing cold, quickly make a spiritual communion.”
"We know God is present in the Sacrament. These directions allow the people of Fond du Lac to worship in a different way, but one recognizing the presence of the Holy Spirit in the world." Bishop Matt added. "This is not what we are used to, and it may be comfortable. However, we know the sacrifice and offering of the Eucharist, and with it “ourselves, our souls, and bodies” to God by the Church, even in a small assembly, is a spiritual good in itself."