Archdeacon Michael F. Pollesel, interim executive officer from the diocese of Ontario, is the new general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Council of General Synod (CoGS), the national church’s governing body between general synods, approved the nomination of Mr. Pollesel during its regular fall meeting.
Mr. Pollesel, 56, was described in a statement released by the Anglican News Service, the national church’s communications arm, as an expert on stewardship. He succeeds Archdeacon Jim Boyles, who retired last summer.
Mr. Pollesel was quoted as describing his new position as a daunting and enormous task.
I see myself as a servant to the church in its national expression, said Mr. Pollesel. My hope is to grow into the position and I hope to be able to draw 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.
As chief operating officer of General Synod (the church’s national office), Mr. Pollesel will be responsible for day-to-day operations and for managing a staff of about 100. ,p. 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, said the statement. 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.
His other duties also include being secretary of General Synod and its council, and liaison between the council and its standing committees.
Mr. Pollesel began working for the Anglican church as a curate in the diocese of Toronto. Since 1999 he has served the diocese of Ontario as stewardship education co-ordinator, and, since May, as interim diocesan executive officer.
Mr. Pollesel has described his diocesan duties as similar on a smaller scale to those of the general secretary. These included interpreting to different church constituencies the vision of the diocese, the bishop and the diocesan synod, said the press statement.
In a vision statement he wrote when he applied for the general secretary’s position, Mr. Pollesel said his priorities include improving links between General Synod and dioceses and rebuilding the sagging morale of national staff, which has been severely affected by the residential schools crisis and the church’s chronic financial problems.
The former will require finding ways to develop a renewed sense of relationship among all Anglicans within our country, wrote Mr. Pollesel. 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.
He added: 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.
Mr. Pollesel’s nomination was presented by the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, to CoGS during an in-camera (closed-door) session. His 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 and the submission of one name to CoGS.
Mr. Pollesel was ordained deacon in the diocese of Toronto in 1979 and a priest in 1980.
He obtained his master of divinity degree from Trinity College, University of Toronto, and a doctorate of ministry in 2005 from Colgate-Rochester Crozer Divinity School. He spent his undergraduate years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., and at Carleton University and St. Paul’s University in Ottawa.
Mr. Pollesel is married to Gini, a human resources manager with Health Canada; they have five adult children.
Mr Pollesel, who assumes his new position in February, is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian and French.
Meanwhile, CoGS also expressed its appreciation to Ellie Johnson, who has served as acting general secretary since Mr. Boyles’ retirement. Ms. Johnson will resume her post as director of the national church’s partnerships department in February.