Superintendency Administrative Assistants reconfiguration
March 29, 2023 / By UNY Communications
The Upper New York Extended Cabinet shared today, March 29, its plan to reconfigure how administrative support is provided to its districts. Beginning July 1, 2023, the current structure of eight part-time and two full-time administrative assistants serving districts will be replaced by six full-time Superintendency Administrative Assistants, each serving two districts as well as working collaboratively on the superintendency support team.
The new configuration of district administrative staff aligns with the reconfiguration of the Cabinet announced in January by Bishop Héctor A. Burgos Núñez. In his letter, Bishop Burgos identified the need for “focus and flexibility… to navigate the ‘in-between times’ we are facing as we continue navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, a season of disaffiliations, and the upcoming General Conference in 2024.”
This new configuration seeks to address the new demographic, financial, and denominational realities facing local churches, districts, and the Conference. “As we emerge from three years of a global pandemic, and as we navigate this season of disaffiliations and denominational transformation, we know the business as usual just won’t do,” said the Rev. Mike Weeden, District Superintendent of the Northern Flow District and Dean of the Cabinet. “We need to realign our structures with these new realities so we can maximize our capacity for ministry.”
Rev. Weeden was quick to acknowledge, “We know these changes directly impact our current district administrative assistants. These are good, faithful servants and colleagues.” He shared that current staff has been urged to consider applying for the new positions. “These folks are a gift. Whatever direction they discern God might be leading them in the future, we are deeply grateful for the number of ways they have made a difference. We owe them a debt of thanks for their exemplary service to this Conference.”
The new configuration aligns job responsibilities with the new demographic realities on each district. Since 2010, when the current 12 districts were created, the number of pastoral charges per district has declined due to church mergers, closures, and disaffiliations. While most of the current district administrative assistants serve a single district, four districts have been served by two full-time administrative assistants. The “one administrative assistant per two districts” model aligns with these new realities and has proven very effective in meeting the needs of district churches. “The churches of both the Albany and Adirondack Districts have someone they know whom they can call to get help,” said the Rev. Debbie Earthrowl, District Superintendent of the Albany and Adirondack districts. “This way of doing things is working for us.”
The new configuration also reflects what has been learned about the value of collaboration and teamwork. For several years, Mary Bradley, the Episcopal Office manager, has met regularly with the district administrative assistants (AAs) to increase morale, share best practices, and work collaboratively on projects. “The district AAs know how to help each other and are always willing to lend a hand when needed,” Bradley said. The new configuration builds on this foundation by further leveraging the combined wisdom, skills, and gifts of each administrative assistant as they meet regularly as a superintendency support team. The superintendency support team will develop consistent administrative policies and practices to ensure equity and efficiency across the Conference.
Finally, the new configuration seeks to address current and future financial realities faced by the Conference. Shared ministries’ support collected from local churches was again below expectations in 2022. The Upper New York (UNY) Council on Finance and Administration predicts this trend may persist over the next several years as churches recover from the impact of the pandemic and UNY recovers from the impact of church disaffiliations. To reduce costs in the short term and ensure Conference finances are sustainable in the longer term, the new administrative structure envisions a transition from an office-based to a work-from-home model.
By Jan. 1, 2024, it is anticipated all Superintendency Administrative Assistants and District Superintendents will work from home and all district offices will be closed. In this new arrangement, each district will still have a dedicated administrative assistant assigned to them. The Conference will provide needed office equipment, internet access, and phone service. Even after these initial investments, significant cost savings are anticipated which will take pressure off the budget and allow funds to be redirected to other ministries.
The Conference will begin accepting applications for the six Superintendency Administrative Assistants beginning April 10.