October 20, 2017 by Sarah Townsend Leach

Last weekend, as I do several times per year, I was standing in front of a group of parishioners at an Episcopal church introducing the process ECF uses to guide a faith community in deciding if a capital campaign is in their future. As the rain poured down outside the window behind me and my PowerPoint presentation shined into the dim room, a man in the back row asked a question I hear from someone at almost every church I visit: “But, what will happen to our annual stewardship pledging if we hold a capital campaign? Won’t it go down? We can’t afford to have our annual stewardship pledging decrease!” This fear is common among so many congregations because, often, adequate time has not been spent talking and educating about the different ways we can give to the church.

The short answer to his questions is, if we (the campaign leadership from your parish supported by me, your ECF capital campaign consultant) do our jobs right, the total given through annual stewardship pledges will not decrease over the course of a capital campaign.

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October 19, 2017 by Linda Buskirk

Already stores urge us to “prepare for the holidays” – as if the whole season depends on us choosing a new color scheme for our Christmas decorations. Right now.

Episcopal sensibilities resist this, of course. We are too busy getting back into the swing of Sunday School, reviving outreach ministries, and conducting annual giving campaigns. Before we know it, the last pot will be scrubbed after the annual community Thanksgiving meal. Dry your hands, sit down, take a breath. Welcome Advent.

Here are five ways to get ready to experience a meaningful Advent.

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October 18, 2017 by Brendon Hunter

This month we offer five resources to help your congregation with different generational aspects to giving. Please share this digest with your parish leadership and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and the monthly digest.

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Topics: Stewardship, Finance
October 17, 2017 by Anna Olson

My parish is a busy place. Multiple communities – with varying degrees of involvement and investment in the religious life of the congregation – use church space for a wide range of beneficial purposes. Kids play basketball and learn instrumental music and traditional dance. Korean drums vie with tuba-driven banda rhythms. The food for festivals and fundraisers is prepared in the kitchen – everything from specialized triangular tamales (the claim to culinary fame of one small town in the mountains of Oaxaca) to a Japanese American take on manju pastries filled with a delicious paste of sweetened lima beans.

It all sounds amazing and beautiful and it is… until someone leaves a mess. Dancers find crumbs on the stage. The basketball team finds discarded plates of tamales in the parking lot. A door gets left open. The trash doesn’t get taken out. In a place as busy as ours, it’s all bound to happen at some point.

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Topics: Hospitality
October 10, 2017 by Jerry Keucher
October 6, 2017 by Richelle Thompson

In the midst of the tumult surrounding the NFL and whether to kneel or stand for the National Anthem, our priest quietly practiced his faith.

A former parishioner is in the midst of the Crucible, a grueling three-day endurance test required before becoming a Marine. Our priest offered special intentions on his behalf (and all the recruits going through the Crucible). During Morning Prayer, the priest wrote down the young man’s name on a card and laid it near a candle on the altar. And he shared the picture on Facebook with the parents.

Surely this is the type of kneeling that all people of faith, regardless of political opinion, can embrace.

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October 3, 2017 by Alan Bentrup

All over Houston, private citizens pulled their fishing boats behind pickups. They launched their vessels at the water's edge, which could be anywhere that a street became a bayou.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett put out an extraordinary call in the midst of the storm. He said the fire department, Coast Guard and police are overwhelmed — they needed people to help their neighbors. And folks responded.

The boat that evacuated my family belonged to four fishing buddies from Virginia, who drove through the night to come help. Ordinary citizens, they responded and teamed up with a county constable and starting rescuing people.

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Topics: Mission
October 2, 2017 by Annette Buchanan

At my home parish, St. Augustine Episcopal Church, Asbury Park, New Jersey, we have been truly blessed to have a Music Director, Gladstone Trott, who began with the church as a child prodigy at age 13 and remained for over 45 years until his recent death after a long illness.

As a tribute to Gladstone’s long tenure there are many wonderful behaviors he practiced that congregations can embrace to ensure a successful music ministry. They are as follows:

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Topics: Worship, Outreach