Using the Internet to Help People Pray

by Jamie Coats on November 21, 2014

Our phones, we love them and we hate them. Can we pray with them?

I work for the Brothers of the Society of Saint the Evangelist who in their Rule of Life talk about being “Men of the moment, up to the mark of the day.” This Advent the Brothers are inviting people worldwide to celebrate Advent through prayer, meditation and by contributing to a global Advent calendar.

Each day for Advent the Brothers are sending out by email a daily word, meditation and beautiful image. The emails are “time warped” so that they arrive at 5am wherever a person is on the planet. To subscribe visit

“5:00 am is about the time we get up to pray. Of course you can look at your email after 5:00 am,” said Brother Jim Woodrum, SSJE, “People maybe surprised to know that monks have cameraphones too and we are showing people how to pray with their phones this Advent. If you are inspired please snap a picture and Instagram it.”

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Faith Connections

by Janine Hand on November 20, 2014

Most Friday afternoons the office at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Del Mar, California, is a quiet place. Locals head out of work early to hit the beach, but get stuck in a jam on the freeways. Though we staff the front desk lest the phone ring or an email comes in, no calls come through; no emails pop up. It’s warm, sunny, and breezy, on a Friday Del Mar day.

This particular Friday was no different. The busyness of the workweek was over. Bulletins were printed; updated announcements were posted to the web site. St. Peter’s was ready for weekend worship. I sat quietly wondering what I could do next.

Fairly new to California, missing home, friends, family, and my home congregation, it dawned on me if I familiarized myself with the church’s pictorial directory, I might recognize a friendly face in my new community if I ran into someone here or there. I could put names and faces together, and make connections.

What seemed like a lot of time that passed was really not. Done with the directory, I thought I’d see if our web pages were user-friendly, eye-catching, and chock-full-of-information. I decided they flowed logically one to the next, were accurate, and timely. You could learn where the church is located, when we hold worship services, and all particulars for upcoming special events. You can browse photos, old newsletters, and select a sermon or two to hear. You can even choose how you’d like to serve the church and surrounding community. Why would the phone need to ring or an email be sent with such an effective tool? It wouldn’t!

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Hospitality, Pastoral Care

Outreach 101: Relationships and Transformation

by Brendon Hunter on November 19, 2014

“Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world,

This month in the ECF Vital Practices mid-month digest, we share articles and resources focused on how outreach can be a catalyst for relationships and transformation.

“Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Are these resources helpful in your ministry? If so, we invite you to share ECF Vital Practices with others in your congregation and diocese. Please forward this email to your church colleagues and friends and invite them to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices.

“Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
– Teresa of Avila

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How Many Episcopalians Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?

by Greg Syler on November 19, 2014

Over the past several years, we’ve been updating our parish hall at St. George’s, Valley Lee. We stripped some walls bare and fixed the masonry, where needed. We’ve insulated walls and above the ceiling. While we were tightening things up, hopefully cutting down on energy usage, we also decided to add nicer finishes: wood flooring in the offices where there previously was linoleum; tile in the restrooms and drywall in the classrooms where there used to be cement block; nicer lighting in as many spaces as we could, and less expensive light fixtures, too – thank God for LED lights. Project by project, the parish hall is starting to look and function a lot better. 

Like many churches, we inherited a set of facilities built by – and, largely, for – the inhabitants of a previous congregation and, indeed, world. With the exception of our historic church, our buildings aren’t that old. Built in the 1960s, they are young enough to be functional but old enough to be costly. They were built with little and, in some cases, no insulation (energy costs apparently weren’t a serious consideration back then) and featured small, tight, dark rooms designed for that mythical Sunday School of 200+ kids. Until we started these more intentional renovations a few years ago, the best this congregation had done, to date, was re-paint and keep up those Baby Boom-era spaces.

Meanwhile, the world changed. This meant different patterns and expectations of church – including the purpose of church buildings.

And in our case, the church was starting to operate and function in new ways. Today, we are a very different community than the one which built our parish hall. The best part is, with some intentional leadership, we’ve been able to have the conversation about our goals and values today, and how these goals are different from those of previous generations and why those differences matter. We started to update our church spaces not because the world had changed but because the church was changing; because, for instance, we needed to pay greater attention to IT issues and build a 21st century office infrastructure; because, we discerned, the overall presentation of the spaces matter, and new leaders were bringing new and good questions about why things go where.

This is when and where we started to get into the conversation about change.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Buildings and Grounds, Change

Scratch-and-Sniff Stickers

by Richelle Thompson on November 18, 2014

Wouldn’t it be great if we had an easy way to gauge when our churches were in trouble?

Our local utility company sent a letter this week and included a scratch-and-sniff sticker. Yes, you read that right. Scratch-and-sniff sticker. The text encouraged people to smell the sticker so folks would be familiar with the pungent smell of natural gas. This pre-emptive measure would alert people to danger because they would be familiar with the odor of gas.

Before we move onto how to apply the same methodology to our churches, let’s take a second to applaud the creativity of this company. I can only imagine the person who came up with the idea, perhaps hesitantly raising his or her hand, in a squeaky, uncertain voice, recalling the bygone days of sticker books and trading, and offering the suggestion, “Perhaps we can create a scratch-and-sniff sticker.”

Though I wasn’t in the room, I suspect the idea was not initially met with widespread applause and backslapping. After all, it’s a little silly. Except that it’s also kind of brilliant. I scratched the sticker. And so did my kids. And now they’ll know to speak up if they ever smell that stench again.

I wish I could summon the same brilliance pixies and pitch a similarly wacky but targeted solution for our congregations. But I can’t (at least not yet!). 

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Permalink  |  1 Comment Conflict, Leadership

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