A Message from our CFO

Dear Friends, 

As we approach July 1, the second anniversary of my full-time work as CFO of the diocese, I would like to thank all of you for your support, and for sharing your thoughtful ideas of how we can be of greatest service to you. 

I would particularly like to thank Dennis Burton for making my transition to this new role as seamless as possible. 

Many of you have commented on the work of the Commission on Finance, and its new narrative budget format that was approved at Convention in October for fiscal year 2024. Our objective is to build on that foundation to make our finances more transparent, and in so doing, to make our spending priorities more intentional and impactful. 

You will find many similarities between your congregation’s budgets and our own, particularly in the opportunities and challenges of expanding our sources of revenue beyond standard forms of traditional support.  We can all become stronger if we adjust our models to reflect changing patterns of giving due to demographic shifts.  At the diocese, we remain firmly supportive of your many and vibrant ministries. 

Succession planning is one of the most critical dimensions of institutional well-being, and we are pleased to be able to announce that effective this month Joan DeCelles, our long-serving finance director, will be joined by Mark Hartonchik, CPA, as controller (pictured).  While Joan initially indicated that she would be retiring mid-year, she has agreed to serve on a half-time basis beginning July 1. Barbara Stevenson will continue to serve as part-time bookkeeper.

On the property side, Diocesan Council has mandated that a Diocesan Property Working Group (DPWG) “investigate, study, recommend action for and manage the process of the development of the Diocesan block on behalf of the Diocese.” Given the creation of a City of Providence Master Plan, this work is both timely and critical to our stewardship of this important property.  As previously reported, Lance Roberts now serves as director of diocesan property operations, and has been particularly helpful with the use of Hallworth House as a medical respite facility, the many capital projects at our camp — the Episcopal Conference Center (ECC) — and planning our renovation of 62 Benefit Street. Going forward, he will serve with me on the DPWG, and will also be engaged on the construction side of our solar farm at ECC, scheduled to be operational in 2025. 

In my role, I am particularly grateful to work with such a talented group of volunteers, from our chairs of, and members of commissions, to our Diocesan Treasurer Vicki Escalera, and to the wardens, treasurers, and vestries of our congregations. On the property planning side, Scott Avedisian has agreed to serve in the volunteer role of adjunct professor to me and to those others of us who are new to Rhode Island as we begin that important journey.  We look forward to welcoming Scott to Diocesan House.   

Lastly, if you are not yet volunteering in a leadership role within your congregation, I would ask that you consider serving.  For me, that was the door that led to the stairway to this opportunity to serve alongside all of you. 

In Faith,