Without much fanfare, my first anniversary in the diocese has come and gone. The time since my consecration on May 3, 2008 and now has marked a very good year, and Gretchen and I feel increasingly at home among you.
People often ask how I like my work or how we’re adjusting to Maine, so I thought a few reflections might be in order.
We continue to be very happy to be in Maine. We are continually discovering and rediscovering the beauty of Maine and the beauty of Maine’s people. Our churches are lively and, for the most part, happy. And even the recession has not dampened our enthusiasm for ministry. Gretchen and I love our home and are busy putting in new flower beds and a vegetable garden.
While I love the work of a bishop, the visitations are a special joy – although I miss not hearing our clergy preach. We have been warmly welcomed everywhere. Meeting with you and with your leadership never fails to deepen my appreciation for the challenges we’re facing and the creativity of our responses.
I have learned that a large part of a bishop’s job is just showing up. That leads to a very challenging schedule. Managing the schedule and the pace of my work is perhaps my greatest ongoing challenge. Saying “no” to requests for my presence is never easy.
Communication is a challenge as well. The diocese was well-adapted to the style of my predecessor. Every little change has a ripple affect. I’m learning whom I need to copy on correspondence, who needs to be informed of routine decisions, what groups need to be consulted, etc., etc. I haven’t dropped too many balls, but there have been some, and the learning can be painful.
New bishops are warned not to take too much on. I thought I was paying attention to that rubric, but I’ve taken on too much anyway. I’ve already agreed to do things that I haven’t been able to produce. And the recession, the state legislation on civil marriage, and the development needs of our congregations have all brought urgent demands. I’m trying to find the balance between thoughtful and timely responses, but that is clearly a work-in-progress. I’m deeply grateful for the dedication and hard work of my Canons, my Executive Assistant, and the Loring House staff who do a lot of heavy lifting for our diocese and for me.
It’s been a good year. The learning curve is steep, but considered all together, I am deeply grateful to God and to you for the call to this ministry. I’m having fun. I’m confident God will bless our life and work together.