Western Kansas Bishop will be a Rector

The Living Church reports that the Rev. Michael P. Milliken will remain rector of Grace Church, Hutchinson, when he becomes the Bishop of Western Kansas, a model of ministry that the Episcopal Church hasn't seen since it's earliest days.

Because of financial challenges faced by the diocese, Milliken’s compensation package will be half that of his predecessor, the Rt. Rev. James M. Adams, who has become rector of Shepherd of the Hills Church, Lecanto, Fla.

Milliken plans to remain rector of Grace Church and move the diocesan office 62 miles southwest to Hutchinson from its current location in Salina. Christ Cathedral, Salina, will continue as the focal point for diocesan worship.

“We’re going to be trying a new paradigm where you have a bishop who’s also a parish priest,” Milliken told The Living Church. “We think it may be an idea whose time has come again.”

When asked about Bishop Dean Wolfe's recent overture to reunify the Diocese of Kansas with Western Kansas, Bishop-elect Milliken told us this:

At the present time...reunification does not seem to have much support in Western Kansas. However, our two dioceses have agreed to work toward a closer relationship in finding ways to share resources, ministries, and events. There is now a working group composed of members of each diocese that will begin exploring ways that Kansas and Western Kansas can work in concert with each other as sister dioceses. Bishop Wolfe and I have talked a little about this, and we are both very excited about working together to proclaim the Gospel in Kansas.

More on the election here.

Comments (5)

Axios! I have long supported the notion of smaller (and more numerous) dioceses with a bishop as pastor of one of the congregations. Such a model re-personalizes the ministry of bishop and roots it in a real-life worshiping community. (cf. Zizoulos)

People have said I'm a dreamer, but it looks like this may be a shared dream...

Yes Tobias -grounded in real life of the congregation - also cross diocesan sharing of resources. We are looking into sharing resource people for Title IV proceedings.

Ann, Title IV not the happiest thought -- but practical. I'd hope also for many shared resources for ministry development, communication, stewardship... the list goes on once one gets away from "Power of their Glory"-days models of what a "diocese" has to be!

Tobias' comment reminds me that, long long ago in a galaxy far far away, Nicholas Radelmiller and I (before we went to the Order of the Holy Cross; he stayed, I didn't) wrote an article in (of all things!) the American Church Union News, in which we advocated a very similar structure -- small dioceses, each led by a bishop-pastor. In some cases the bishop might also be rector of a major parish, probably with an associate rector to assist in parish ministry when the bishop was elsewhere. No staff other than a secretary. These dioceses would be grouped in archdioceses or provinces, at which level the typical resources and staff would be structured. It seemed like a good idea at the time, though of course it went nowhere. But apparently it's not quite dead!

Excellent! I'd rather have a pastor as a bishop than a politician, an administrator, or a CEO. Congratulations to the good bishop.

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