Episcopal Church finalizes merger of 3 Wisconsin dioceses amid declining membership

All Saints' Cathedral of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which serves as the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee.
All Saints' Cathedral of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which serves as the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee. | Screengrab: YouTube/All Saints' Cathedral Milwaukee

The Episcopal Church has approved the merger of three Wisconsin dioceses into one regional body, concluding a process that began about three years ago.

At the 81st General Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, the denomination approved last week the merging of the Episcopal dioceses of Eau Claire, Fond du Lac and Milwaukee to form the Episcopal Diocese of Wisconsin.

“The timing was absolutely right, and we paid attention,” said the Rev. Jana Troutman-Miller, a deputy from Milwaukee, after the vote, according to Episcopal News Service.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

“Please pray for us as we go from here to begin the real work of this reunion; the living into this call that we have been paying attention to.”

The merger was technically a reunification, as the three regional bodies were originally part of the same diocese when it was formed in 1847, being gradually divided over the course of several decades, noted ENS. In the past decade, membership across all three dioceses was down about a third. 

The reunited Diocese of Wisconsin currently includes 101 congregations and approximately 11,500 baptized members, with Bishop Matthew Gunter serving as its leader.

The reunification effort began in 2021 when a steering committee convened task forces to investigate the possibility of a merger amid declining membership.

Gunter said in an April 2022 video that “the world is changing” and that “the Church, as we are right now, is not ready to engage with the realities and the people shaped by them.”

“We need to adapt,” Gunter stated. “With two of the bishops of the dioceses in Wisconsin retiring at the end of 2020, we have an opportunity to take a fresh look at how we are organized.”

“To become one diocese, not just to create a bigger version of what we have been, but to look at what it might mean to reconfigure ourselves and organize ourselves as a diocese, so that we can be about mission.”

The three dioceses separately approved a resolution at their annual conventions last October.

The resolution passed in Eau Claire with 91.5% support and in Milwaukee with 92% support. It was less popular in Fond du Lac, where the regional body leadership held a roll call vote in which 61.2% of the laity and 76% of the clergy voted yes.

In May, the dioceses of Eau Claire, Fond du Lac and Milwaukee held a joint special convention in Baraboo, where clergy and lay leadership voted overwhelmingly to reunify, sending the proposal to the 81st General Convention.

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles