August 1 may be remembered for two significant events for the Diocese of Fond du Lac. In 1999 Matthew P. Payne started with the diocese as Diocesan Youth Coordinator and Communications Officer. 25 years later, August 1, 2024, he will retire after serving as Lay Canon for Administration, Business Administrator and Human Resources Manager. “Over two years ago, Matthew shared a desire to retire from the diocese,” Bishop Matt Gunter shared with the Board of Trustees recently. “We started planning for a transition, then reunion discussion began.” With possible reunion of three dioceses, “Matthew decided to continue until there was some resolution.” Following the initial reunion vote last October, “Matthew let me know the time had come.”
Payne was hired by Bishop Russ Jacobus in two combined part-time positions. Changes in the diocesan office in the early 2000’s saw him in a full-time position overseeing management of all things diocesan including operations, finances, and property. Bishop Gunter had Payne continue with the diocese after becoming bishop in 2014, though with a little different focus. Anticipating coming retirement, Payne’s position became ¾ time in 2023. Events management and communication duties shifted to a full-time Office Administrator position held by Lisa Baltes.
“Because of my family blessings, good planning, and a mentor who ‘forced’ me to start saving for retirement when I was 22, my wife Maggie and I have been thinking about our next chapter in life,” Payne shared recently. “We are ready to turn the page and thankful to be able to make the change.”
According to Bishop Gunter, “Matthew has been a much-appreciated fixture in the life and ministry of the Diocese of Fond du Lac for the last 25 years. And he has been an invaluable colleague and trusted counselor to me in my time as bishop.”
Payne continues until August 1, 2024, and will be in the diocesan office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. He will also work remotely. In the remainder of that year, he will consultant with the transition in whatever form it takes. “I appreciate Matthew’s willingness to continue, allowing us to tap into his extensive institutional memory, which will be essential to any change,” Gunter commented, “whether as a reunited Diocese of Wisconsin or continuing as the Diocese of Fond du Lac.”
Payne plans to continue in his part-time role as Director of Operations for the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church which he began in 2014. He serves as Secretary to the Board of the DeKoven Center in Racine and looks forward to committing more time to its work. He recently began collecting glass insulators, plans to expand his collection, and attend insulator shows around the country. Matthew and Maggie have purchased a house in Mineral Point, Wisconsin to be closer to their grandchildren and he will be bi-locational until August.
“It has been a delight to serve the Church through the Diocese of Fond du Lac,” Payne shared, “especially the camping program and leadership in congregations. Retirement at my age is not the norm but working for the same employer for 25 years isn’t either!” Noting the mission and ministry of the diocese will continue without his presence, Payne plans to “pray it will continue to strengthen in sharing the Gospel with the world.”