January 8, 2014

January 2014 Editor's Letter: Vestries: Listening to God’s Call

Welcome 2014! 

That beginning of a new year offers a clean slate: A chance to start over, to rid oneself of unproductive habits; an opportunity to be more of those things one would like to be more of, and less of those things that weigh us down. In 2014, my resolution is to minimize the stress I create for myself – to pay attention to the ways I can unnecessarily complicate things, to teach myself to recognize the triggers, and to learn how to keep things simple.

For many congregations, January brings annual meetings and vestry elections. Changes in leadership teams bring opportunities for new ways of looking at the familiar challenges related to congregational finances, membership, and mission. As new vestries form, fresh perspectives emerge as the group begins their work together to discern what God is calling them to do.

In our January Vestry Papers, we share stories and experiences of congregations and vestries who are facing – and successfully navigating – the realities of a changing world while remaining faithful to God’s call.

Here are their stories:

Doing things the same way is unlikely to produce different results, yet often organizations are unsure about how to break out of old patterns. In “Adapt or Die,” Ken Howard shares the process congregational leaders at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Germantown, Maryland use to live into a more incarnational Christianity.

As annual meetings and vestry elections approach, some congregations find it difficult to recruit nominees for vestry and other leadership positions. When John Mark Wiggers learned this was a challenge for his new congregation at St. James Church in Knoxville, Tenn., he saw an opportunity to explore a different method of vestry selection. “Apostolic Selection? Choosing Vestry Members” is the story of what’s working for St. James. This article is available in both English and Spanish.

Making people feel valued and welcome is key to building community. In “Feeling Valued,” high school senior Ariana Gonzales-Bonillas invites congregational leaders to reflect on the ways youth are valued – or not – in their congregation.

Imagine if every vestry included a member who helped everyone keep Christ at the center of every conversation. In “Why Not, if it is for Christ?” Denis C. Brunelle shares a practice vestries can use to deepen their own discernment skills, one he learned from a man named Roy.

These new Vestry Papers articles represent just a small portion of the resources available on the ECF Vital Practices’ website. Use the Topics index on each page of the site to find other resources related to serving on the vestry including past Vestry Papers articles, blog posts, and the many resources found in our Your Turn and Tools sections.

What else is new this month? If you are interested in seeing our Spanish language content, please visit our new, searchable index for our Spanish content here; then click on the "ECFVP en Español" button on the right side of the page. 

As your congregation welcome new vestry members this month, please remember to share this issue of Vestry Papers with them and to invite them to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices and Vestry Papers. Subscriptions are free; visit ECFVP.org and click on the Subscribe tab on the upper right hand corner of this page. New subscribers are asked to fill out a short registration form to have Vestry Papers and ECF Vital Practices content delivered twice a month to your email inbox.