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