The Anglican Council of General Synod has approved the Primate’s nomination of the Interim Executive Officer from the Diocese of Ontario who is also an expert on stewardship to the position of General Secretary.
Archdeacon Michael F. Pollesel, 56, who described his diocesan duties as similar “on a smaller scale” to the responsibilities of the General Secretary, will succeed Archdeacon Jim Boyles who retired last summer.
The General Secretary of General Synod is the church’s chief operating officer responsible for the day-to-day functioning of Church House and for managing a General Synod staff that numbers more than 100.
One of the key features of the position is presenting the work of General Synod to the church’s 30 dioceses and to the public at large. In recent years, the General Secretary was also the key person involved in negotiating a settlement with the federal Government over residential schools litigation that, at one time, threatened to bankrupt the church.
Archdeacon Pollesel, who began his church career as a curate in Toronto, has been Stewardship Education Coordinator in the Diocese of Ontario since 1999, and Interim Diocesan Executive Officer since last May.
Among his duties as Executive Officer was interpreting to different church constituencies the vision of the diocese, the bishop and the diocesan synod.
As Stewardship Education Officer, he has been responsible for planning, promoting and delivering stewardship resources to congregations across the diocese as well as preaching, writing and offering workshops and seminars on stewardship themes and topics.
Archdeacon Pollesel’s confirmation follows a lengthy and complicated search process that involved interviews by a special search committee with national representation, the presentation of a short list of candidates to the Primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, and the Primate’s submission of one name for confirmation by the Council of General Synod (CoGS.) CoGS is the church’s highest legislative body in years when the General Synod itself does not meet.
Among other duties, the General Secretary also serves as the secretary of General Synod and its Council and as liaison between the Council and its standing committees.
In an interview, Archdeacon Pollesel said that assuming the General Secretary’s position is a daunting and enormous task. “I see myself as a servant to the church in its national expression,” he said. “My hope is to grow into the position and I hope to be able to draw on advice from Jim Boyles from time to time. I hope to be a conduit for communication and dialogue among our various constituencies and will do what I can to further this as we go through our current challenging times.”
Archdeacon Pollesel was educated at Laurentian University in Subdury, Ont., and at Carleton University and St. Paul’s University in Ottawa. He obtained a Master of Divinity from Trinity College, University of Toronto, and a Doctorate of Ministry in 2005 from Colgate-Rochester Crozer Divinity School. His doctoral thesis was entitled Holistic Stewardship: Living Into God’s Dream.
He was ordained deacon in the Diocese of Toronto in 1979 and priest a year later. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian and French.
Archdeacon Pollesel was a member of the General Synod in 2004 and 2001 and is currently a member of the Financial Management and Development Committee. He served as a parish priest in Toronto, Scarborough and Belleville, Ont., before moving to the synod office of the Diocese of Ontario in Kingston, Ont.
In a vision statement he wrote when he applied for the General Secretary’s position, Archdeacon Pollesel said his two principal goals in the position would be to enhance links between the General Synod and dioceses and to rebuild the morale of General Synod staff which has been bruised by the residential schools crisis and by financial crises.
“The former will require finding ways to develop a renewed sense of relationship among all Anglicans within our country,” he wrote. “The General Secretary can play a vital role in helping to build bridges between and among our various constituents, thereby strengthening and perhaps even renewing relationships which are now somewhat fragile.
“The second focal area, morale among national church staff, can be linked to the first area of concern, which has resulted from decades of declining numbers in our denomination. This has had an impact on national church staff, many of whom are often left wondering about the long-term stability of their positions. I would suggest that this area of concern can be conquered by renewing relationships with the dioceses, as well as by seeking to support and assist national church staff in various ways as they carry out their diverse ministries on behalf of us all.”
Archdeacon Pollesel is married to Gini, a human resources manager with Health Canada. They have five adult children. He will begin his duties at Church House in February.
For more information, please contact Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Director of Communications, 416-924-9199, ext 306,[email protected]
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