Canon for Congregational Development and Leadership & Rector, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Diocese of Olympia, TEC (M.Div., M.B.A., M.A., B.A.)
Phone: 206 291 5001
Curriculum Vitae: Melissa Skelton.pdf
My call to the Episcopacy comes from a combination of what feels like an internal “push” born of my own prayer life and increasing scope of experience in the Church combined with an external “pull” born of many in my life affirming that they see me functioning as a Bishop within the Episcopal Church or within other parts of the Anglican Communion.
For the past three years, I have had the sense that I was being nudged beyond my current roles as priest, rector, creator and director of training programs and Canon for Congregational Development and Leadership toward something else that in a sense put all these roles together in a new way. At the same time, my own bishop, those I work with in the Diocese of Olympia and in the Diocese of New Westminster, and those involved in other Episcopal election committees in the United States have confirmed that they see gifts for the episcopacy in me.
The gifts they have identified include: a prayerfulness and a grounding in Christ that are essential to the office of Bishop, a natural and engaging leadership style, gifts of preaching teaching and relationship building, a love of being with and serving across a diversity of individuals and groups (many cultures, many ages, diverse styles of life and life circumstances, many religious and spiritual backgrounds) and, finally, an ability to foster a sense of unity through listening deeply in community and then focusing resources to support the unity that deep listening often discloses.
I have accepted being nominated for the episcopacy in New Westminster for a number of reasons. In my most recent work as Director of the new Diocesan School for Leadership in the Diocese of New Westminster, I have encountered a thirst and enthusiasm for the leadership and congregational development programs I have developed and taught in the Diocese of Olympia and in other US dioceses. For me, this has confirmed the connection between my basic approach to strengthening the life of congregations and what appears to be need for leadership in this same area in the Diocese of New Westminster.
Additionally, in designing and facilitating the November, 2012, Synod meeting, I experienced both an interest in and a willingness to engage in a listening process that, from my perspective, was a first step toward the restoration of a sense of unity in New Westminster. This willingness spoke to me in that these very same listening processes would be a cornerstone of my approach in the creation of unity that is part of the role of Bishop.
Finally, I believe myself to be called to the traditional roles of Bishop as pastor, teacher and apostle in the broad region of Cascadia, itself—a region that I have come to love. Though I have lived in many different places, Cascadia has become my home. To serve as Bishop in this strange and wonderful part of the world is in many ways the fulfillment of all that I have been and done before. To serve in Cascadia and in Canada would be energizing and new for me.
I believe I bring the following attributes to the Office of Bishop in New Westminster:
- I see my life as a life lived in response to the loving initiative of God towards me and all humanity in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Out of this, I do my best to be faithful in prayer and worship, to engage in some form of ongoing study, to nurture my own social and family life, and to be involved in some form of Christian action in the world. Having come to the Episcopal Church in my twenties from no real church background, I have come to love and to rely on these touch points for the Christian life that sustain and enrich me within the inevitable ups and downs of daily living.
- I have proven experience in working in a congregational setting to deepen its life and to grow its attendance through strengthening its Anglican identity while at the same time more powerfully connecting it to its context. My time as Rector at St. Paul’s, Seattle, has been all about drawing on the best part of a traditional Anglican liturgy while helping that traditional liturgy become more accessible to newcomers. The result has been that St. Paul’s is one of the fastest growing parishes in the Diocese of Olympia. I would bring this experience to functioning as a Bishop with the responsibility for support and oversight of many congregations.
- I have an engaged, energetic and relational leadership style. I genuinely enjoy creating and sustaining relationships with others. Whether with a staff, with other clergy and parish leaders or with people from the broader church, I am essentially a relational being who delights not just in getting work done but in the joy of working with others to accomplish something.
- I think systemically and have experience creating a diocesan system that focuses on priorities that mean something to clergy and laity alike: healthy and attractive congregations. In the Diocese of Olympia I created the College for Congregational Development (The Diocese of New Westminster’s Leadership School), reinvigorated and focused the congregational consulting group, renewed our congregational grants program, revived our Evangelism Commission, created a new approach to clergy days and initiated a specific colleague group for clergy who are in charge of parishes and missions for the first time.
- I delight in learning about and functioning within new contexts. Though I did not grow up in the West, I have come to relish the challenges and joys of the Cascadian context. I understand the “spiritual but not religious” character of the region, its multi-faith and multi-cultural character, and its Aboriginal/First Nations context. And, I would say, I am forever open to learning more from those who have more experience than I do in any of these areas.
I am deeply grateful to be able to engage in this discernment process with the Diocese of New Westminster. I pray for the companionship of the Holy Spirit in all that we do in this election process. And I pray for all the people and churches in The Diocese of New Westminster.
If you have any questions about me or any of my materials, I would be happy to answer them by phone or by email.