Saturday, June 26, 2010

Haiti Loses Lauren Stanley

“So long, and thanks for all the fish”

I was dismayed to read this week from Episcopal News Service that the Rev. Lauren Stanley “is no longer to be involved” as TEC’s missionary to the Diocese of Haiti. Lauren posted the news here.

You will remember that Lauren Stanley was TEC’s missionary in Haiti. And you may remember her full-blown joy, as I do, as captured in the photo here.

Lauren Stanley is the person who–after the horrible earthquake in Haiti–has done more than anyone I know to spread news and advocate on behalf of Haiti. She has kept Haiti in our consciousness through her blog, and many of her reports were picked up by other news sites, parishes, dioceses, and individuals

Her accomplishment is not surprising.

Before her ordination, the Rev. Stanley was a journalist. She has used that skill set to great advantage since the earthquake … keeping us all aware of the situation in Haiti.

For understandable reasons, TEC hasn’t done that with the kind of single-minded focus that Lauren had. For equally understandable reasons, the Diocese of Haiti hasn’t done it. When others would not or could not, Lauren kept up a passionate drumbeat on behalf of the Diocese of Haiti … lest we forget our brothers and sisters there.

The ENS story explained that Haiti "needs a different set of skills" now, and Episcopal Café followed their lead. Perhaps Haiti has used Lauren Stanley as much as they can, and – now that they have asked TEC for $60 million – they now want someone who can design and oversee construction of buildings.

I hear through the grapevine that TEC is going to place two missionaries in Haiti, one of whose duties will essentially replicate what Lauren was doing. So what’s up with that?

I have some questions, which I posted at The Lead:

Just whom do you believe is going to leverage the $60 million that Bishop Duracin has requested for the rebuilding of the diocese? Lauren Stanley is a communicator, who has been the strongest voice for Haiti since the earthquake. God knows, TEC couldn't afford to have a journalist/advocate on staff devoted solely to Haiti advocacy. I dare say Lauren has been – and could have remained– the best marketing/PR/fund-raising/communications expert possible. But (for reasons that are a mystery to me) they have chosen to release her from service.

Having some sense of the paltry sums our missionaries get paid, I dare say that Lauren Stanley would have done that work for a lot less $$ than whatever bloated fee TEC may pay some "fund-raising consultant."

God knows ... and so do I ... that TEC's communications staff has been nearly decimated under the Watt regime.

Apparently, Lauren Stanley is to be replaced by some sort of architect or engineering type. No doubt, such expertise is needed, and I am glad that TEC is going to appoint another missionary to provide that expertise. But who decided it was "either/or" rather than "both/and"? Can we really only afford one missionary to work among the ruins of (arguably) the most devastated diocese of The Episcopal Church?

Did Linda Watt and our Executive Council fall victim to a “theology of scarcity”? One wonders.

Lauren Stanley’s termination was announced by TEC’s Chief Operating Officer, Linda Watt. Watt has so little credibility that, when I hear the words “Linda Watt says,” I translate it as, “You lie!” Watt has a record of getting rid of many of the brightest and best. She canned Father Jake, she let Jan Nunley leave (who was arguably the best journalist on the staff), and now Lauren Stanley. We recall how she fired the cleaning crew. Her record speaks volumes about a hard-nosed bureaucrat who works very far from the Baptismal Covenant.

Watt apparently announced Stanley’s dismissal at the Executive Council meeting, several days before the ENS story appeared. At what point was Lauren Stanley informed of the decision? From the timeline, it appears that the dozens of Executive Council members were informed before our missionary in Haiti was. And that is wrong. It violates decency. More important, it violates the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have seen how Linda Watt fires people from our church’s employment. Now we have another – a missionary, who apparently received little or no warning. No time to find other employment. No time to find other health insurance. One day, Lauren Stanley was a valued missionary employee of our church. The next day, she was sacked by Linda Watt.

As a paid-up Episcopalian, I would like to hear more about how, when, and why all this came down. If The Episcopal Church values transparency at all, they will make that information available.

I am in awe of the people who offer their service as missionaries to our church. Some years ago, when I visited the Diocese of Lui (in Sudan), I got a little taste of the life they live. They face many challenges. They work in very difficult situations. They work for very little pay. They don’t have running water, showers, or electricity. They work among people very different than us. But perhaps the most terrible challenge they face is Linda Watt, when she decides they are inconvenient ...

I would like to see Linda Watt spend 6 months living in those conditions … far away from the luxuries of midtown Manhattan … and on a missionary’s meager salary ... and -- preferably with no one to abuse.


Blogger +clumber said...

I'm just a dog, so maybe my bark doesn't count for much, but I agree with you, something smells about this whole thing. Your bringing forth a certain pattern of what appear to be reckless "business decisions" does indeed feel like decisions are being made based, as you say, on a “theology of scarcity”.

Good work, as usual Lisa!

6/26/2010 9:04 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, +Clumber. It does, indeed, stink ... as your well-attuned nose knows.

Believe me: I know more than I will dare to put on my blog. Episcopalians should jump all over this story, and not accept the "official story."

Big "woof" and ear-rubs to you, most esteemed bishop.

6/26/2010 9:12 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I think many have an uneasy feeling about this - the story is so "thin" -- use 'em and lose 'em seems to be the motto at 815 these days.

6/26/2010 9:35 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for that insight, Ann. It made lightbulbs explode all over my head.

Yes, I believe it's the "use 'em and lose 'em" management theory that is part of what has me so angry. I get more angry as I see more of my friends sacrificed on that 815 management protocol.

And isn't that management practice exactly the opposite of our baptistmal covenant??

Our Church should know better.

6/26/2010 9:56 PM  
Blogger Leonardo Ricardo said...

The whole thing lacks leadership has from the start and in my opinion smells of a know-it-allness/seat-of-the-pantsness that may charm, to appear to please, but is really more like passive aggressive illness on the prowl (passive aggressives are often very quick and bright and CONVINCING)...this is an area of the 815 that requires a overview (no matter who is protecting Linda Watt) immediately...someone is ignoring the disaster of despotic leadership in ¨operations¨ (and there are more examples than the one you have rightfully listed).

6/27/2010 11:58 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, Leonardo. I'm not qualified to diagnose the causes (psychological or other) of such actions. But I sure don't see the hand of Christ in them.

6/27/2010 1:02 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kaeton said...

The story smells of old fish - old stories of firings past.

Even our "friend" over at SFiF has raised the issue, saying he would have posted the story sooner but "had to wait for it to stop spinning."

Never mind about the rest of his nasty comments, or the fact that he has, apparently, changed the original headline after realizing that his 'gaydar' is hopelessly broken.

You know, when two people on opposite ends of the theo-political spectrum have the same reaction, something is going on.

We may never know. Thanks for posting this, Lisa. You are a champion of truth-telling in the name of justice.

6/27/2010 2:57 PM  
Blogger Leonardo Ricardo said...

Dear Lisa, I´m certainly no Psychiatrist, armchair or otherwise, sorry to give you that impression.

I´m an artist with a lifelong career background in retail/wholesale, product development, marketing and promotion...a free-for-all land of eccentric, self-willed and twisted/egodriven exposures to real life cunning players in the name of fashion business. As important, to me, in terms of experience is noticing ¨pridefilled¨ human torneados roaring through everyday lives. I´ve been active, daily, in recovery/support groups from substance abuse for over three decades now...often, very often, I´ve seen emotional/spiritual maladjustments in action (like everyone else I imagine)´s easy to spot active grandstanders running wild tangets of endless ¨know it all¨ missions...especially when the same, clever, ¨demanders¨ harm others (no matter what shrinks or professionals call it) and fail at task after task (and usually blame someone else)...everyday problem-makers that ought be challenged (both in and outside of the diplomatic corps/elsewhere) and be held responsible for ALL that they do.

6/27/2010 4:27 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, Elizabeth & Leonardo.

Quite often, I'm blogging about the red-hot news in TEC-land that we're all blogging.

Every now and then, I blog a story that doesn't seem to be on anyone else's radar. I believe this one warrants further exploration.

6/27/2010 9:27 PM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

...and aren't I tickled that I discovered they had changed the headline over at your favorite site! (Pats self on back.)

6/28/2010 8:47 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Sadly, Maria, it was Lauren herself who first alerted me to the "Lesbian Priest" headline at Troll Central. It's bad enough that they beat up on her. Worse yet that they ascribe adjectives that incorrect.

But you may recall that Melanie crowed a couple of years back that Bishop Barbara Harris had appeared in a Palestian scarf at a demonstration. It was days and days before he was persuaded that it wasn't her at all.

He's not a journalist. Nor are any of his cohorts. They are just bottom-feeders with a blog.

6/28/2010 9:36 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Dear friends, I am quite curious, and I hope someone might be able to help me.

This blogpost from Saturday had received little attention until mid-afternoon today (Monday). All of a sudden, it was getting visits from all over North Carolina. Soon thereafter, it was getting hits coming from Facebook. Do any of you know where it was posted/shared that it suddenly got all this attention?

6/28/2010 9:39 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Who know the "tipping point" when something like this "goes viral"?

7/01/2010 11:38 AM  
Blogger LMM/RDM said...

How sad, I just got this news. You would never know, she has not lost enthusiasm for life. Bless you Lauren. Rickey.

11/18/2010 10:12 AM  

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