• Be Prepared; Save a Life ✓
    Vital Posts
    Coming to church saves lives. Literally.  At least it did in our congregation on Christmas Eve. If you read only one blog, read this. If you’re going to follow the advice of only one best-practices column, let it be this one. …
  • Fearless Finances - Parish Budgets ✓
    Webinars
    Fearless Finances - A Practical Approach to Parish Budgets (ECF/Lilly Financial Literacy Series) Fall is a critical time for parish budgeting and congregational leaders often feel overwhelmed. Take a deep breath – you are just one step away from l…
  • Senior Warden Ministry: Mission Impossible? ✓
    Webinars
    “Your Mission, potential senior warden, should you choose to accept it…” Serving as senior warden can be one of the most spiritually rewarding experiences for a lay leader. This one hour webinar is designed to present practical tips and consid…
  • Tools for Healthy Communities ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Using the monastic Rule of Life as a guide, Br. David Vryhof shares how vestries and other leaders can develop a covenant to both form and function well as a group.
  • Sharing Audits ✓
    Vital Posts
    Summertime means audit-time in the life of congregations of The Episcopal Church. The Canons [I.7.1(f)] state the standard accordingly: “…All accounts of parishes, missions, or other institutions shall be audited annually by an independen…
  • Pledging: Should Clergy Know? ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Opinions vary as to whether or not ordained leaders of faith communities should be familiar with what parishioners are pledging. Erin Weber-Johnson reached out to her church campaign colleagues and asked them to share their experiences, pro and con.
  • Audits: Practicing Internal Controls ✓
    Vestry Papers
    It's valuable for congregational leaders to have – and practice – good internal controls. Martha Goodwill offers four specific actions every congregation should adopt.
  • Accounting Software: Finding the Right Fit ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Phyllis Jones offers descriptions of the three most popular packages in the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey and shares what congregations should consider when making this decision.
  • Lessons from a Rookie Treasurer ✓
    Vestry Papers
    As a new treasurer, Tyler Schleicher quickly discovered that he needed to get up to speed quickly and, at the same time, find ways to make the role more manageable .
  • Annual Giving Campaign Tools ✓
    Tools
    Does your congregation think about and talk about stewardship only during the annual funding campaign? If so, you’re missing year-round opportunities for formation. Not sure how to start? These two tools may help.
  • Living Into Our Ministries ✓
    Tools
    This guide is for conducting effective mutual ministry reviews in one's congregation. It was collaboratively developed by the Episcopal Church Foundation, the Episcopal Church Center's Offices for Ministry Development and Deployment and many diocesan…
  • What Does a Rector Do?
    Vestry Papers
    With his own job about to change, Greg Syler explores what the role of a rector is from perceived expectations to the church-wide Canons.
  • Vestry Covenants: A Great Start to 2017
    Webinars
    A covenant can be a powerful tool for helping a vestry or other leadership team to establish group expectations and accountability. By establishing shared norms and expectations after the new vestry convenes each year, a vestry can lay a foundation f…
  • Developing Your Communications Plan
    Webinars
    Too often, congregations, dioceses and other Episcopal organizations jump straight into communications tactics (What should we put on our website? What kinds of articles should we put in our newsletter?) before thinking through their communications s…
  • Electronic Voting for Dioceses: What worked for us
    Vital Posts
    In April of 2016, I put out a request for help to the Episcopal Communicators Facebook group on best practices and recommendations for electronic voting at our bishop election convention in Central New York. As a way to say ‘thank you’ to this …
  • One Bulletin, Multiple Services
    Vital Posts
    This post is about efficiency, for sure, and it’s about a pretty small, seemingly insignificant part of congregational life, but I’m also a believer that paying attention to the little things – and with an eye toward greater efficiency – is…
  • Old-School Church Directory, 2.0
    Vital Posts
    I have always loved looking through the church directories. As a kid, I would flip through them between commercials or get distracted by the photos whenever I was looking up a phone number. Seeing each picture both as an individual unit (whether fa…
  • A Ministry of Space
    Vestry Papers
    Sharing our buildings with others can tax a congregation’s resources. “A Ministry of Space” by Louise Fortuna shares how, on a shoestring budget and without a sexton, this downtown church has become a true community hub.
  • Summer Sprucing
    Vital Posts
    Editor’s note: Years ago, I worked for the Girl Scouts. Each summer one day was dedicated to cleaning the old mansion that housed our offices. Mornings were spent clearing common and storage areas, afternoons, individual offices. For today’s su…
  • Registrar, Clerk, Or Secretary?
    Vital Posts
    Our by-laws stipulate that one of the officers of the vestry is a person called ‘registrar.’ This person records minutes of vestry meetings and makes them available to the group. “[S]hall keep or cause to be kept true and accurate minutes of …
  • Spending Rules and Investment Allocations
    Webinars
    Do you know the laws that govern your endowment? Do you know if you are prudently managing your endowment assets? The Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA), a state law, addresses how to invest and spend from your “true” …
  • The Perfect Fit?
    Vital Posts
    I've spent quite a bit of time looking for the perfect to-do app – something I can download onto my Smartphone to help me keep track of everything I have to do. I want it to be simple and easy to use, but also to have all the intricate and advanc…
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Treasurer Basics for March
    Vital Posts
    In the March Vital Practices Digest, we offer 5 treasurer basics every parish leader involved with finances might use, with the 5th a resource to help develop year-round stewardship in your congregation. It’s easy and free to connect wit…
  • Tenants and Friends
    Vital Posts
    Are your tenants your friends? Is that even possible? What is the relationship with the people who use your church’s space? So many of our churches these days have tenants. It’s practical, mostly. We often have more space and less money t…
  • Treat the Disease, Not the Symptom
    Vestry Papers
    Leadership and finances are the areas most cited by Episcopal churches as sources of conflict. Jerry Keucher shares why leaders need to address the underlying problem(s) fueling that conflict.
  • Vital Practices Digest: Vestry 101 Resources for February
    Vital Posts
    Looking for practical, spiritually grounded resources for your congregation? Subscribe to ECF Vital Practices for articles, tools, and resources by and for congregational leaders. With a subscription, you’ll receive 12 issues of Vestry Paper…
  • The Consent Calendar
    Vestry Papers
    Are your vestry meetings too long? Is too much time taken up on routine business? Ron Byrd’s introduction to using a consent calendar at General Convention convinced him to propose this approach to his vestry.
  • Reboot Your Reporting
    Vestry Papers
    Do the things your vestry measures and reports on reflect the mission- and vision-driven aspects of your congregation?
  • Year-End Pastoral Care
    Vital Posts
    Our parish administrator’s office is a bit more cluttered than usual these days, the top of her desk buried under piles of papers and boxes. Not only has she been pushing out the giving envelopes for the year ahead, she’s also printing and deli…
  • Project Management: Do You Have a System?
    Vital Posts
    Too many cooks in the kitchen describes a lot of my projects. Collaboration is a vital component to a successful organization but it can sometimes devolve and create headaches. Surely you’ve been there too. Imagine you’re planning a fundrais…
  • The Data Shows: Invite and They Will Come
    Vital Posts
    Last December, the Acts 8 Movement released a video which could be customized and shared via social media to proclaim the gospel and invite people to worship. After it came out, I posted a tutorial about how to do just that, providing video for…
  • 3 Great Things You [Likely] Missed in 2015
    Vital Posts
    The 4th of 4 posts - see below for the other three articles. I can often predict whether an article, resource, or webinar will do well when pushed out in an email or posted on Facebook or Twitter. Then there are those times that something…
  • December 2015 Editor’s Letter: Practical Matters
    Vital Posts
    Advent: A time of preparation; a time of waiting. And, for our congregational leaders, especially those responsible for parish administration, time to make a master list and check it twice. First, for all of the seasonal events and services, next f…
  • Why Policy Matters
    Vestry Papers
    Lisa Meeder Turnbull invites congregational leaders to consider the stewardship of structure and governance as a framework supporting the mission and vision of your congregation.
  • Managing Resources, Part 2: Administration
    Vestry Papers
    Nancy Davidge and Susan Elliott focus on the administrative aspects of congregational leadership, looking at topics such as insurance, reporting, property management, human resources (employees and volunteers), and safeguarding our communities.
  • Administrator’s & Treasurer’s Lunches
    Vestry Papers
    Growing out of the popularity of the annual diocesan church administrators and treasurers’ conference, Nancy James and Ann Turner share a roadmap for how they setup networking events for administrators and treasurers in their diocese.
  • Strong Administrator = Strong Church
    Vestry Papers
    Do you ever think of your parish administrator as a primary part of your community’s root system?
  • An Annual Gathering Of Disciples, More Than An Annual ‘Meeting’
    Vital Posts
    My memories are probably very slanted because even as a boy I was a pretty serious church nerd, but I remember how much I looked forward to one of the latter Sundays in January. Lots of people would turn out to the one worship service my church had…
  • Make Your Money talk. Or at Least, Your Budget.
    Vital Posts
    Vestries are working on their budgets for the next year. It can be a daunting task, whether or not resources are limited. Money—and talk of it—is uncomfortable for a lot of people. But giving voice to the line items of a church budget is a v…
  • November 2015 Editor's Letter: Practical Matters
    Vital Posts
    Happy Birthday ECF Vital Practices! We’re celebrating five years of ECF Vital Practices. To date, we’ve published 60 Vestry Papers issues online (that’s 240 articles), plus thousands of Vital Posts blogs.  The best part? We couldn’t do …
  • Walking the Road of Relationship
    Vestry Papers
    In “Walking the Road of Relationship” Sarabeth Goodwin talks about her burning call to plant a Spanish-speaking congregation at an English-speaking parish, the obstacles they faced, and the success they have had as they keep walking el Camino tog…
  • Supporting First Responders
    Vestry Papers
    Disasters happen. In “Supporting First Responders,” Bruce Barnes shares how during a major fire, Church of the Redeemer quickly opened a cooling shelter for first responders due to the hard work of his congregation’s disaster team. At the end o…
  • Shared Calendar = Less Conflict
    Vestry Papers
    Many congregations share space with others and, even with good coordination and clear lines of communication, there may be times when conflict arises over use of space. In “Shared Calendar = Less Conflict,” Ann Mellow identifies several key areas…
  • Managing Resources, Part 1 Finances
    Vestry Papers
    “Managing Resources, Part 1” by Nancy Davidge and Susan Elliott, offers an overview of the Vestry Resource Guide’s chapter on finance and administration. Part 1 takes a broad look at the vestry’s role in financial management including budgeti…
  • Ignore These Details and You Might Lose Your Church's Website
    Vital Posts
    All websites need a domain name and a web host. These are easy to acquire, but sometimes churches have a hard time keeping track of them – and end up losing them, with dire results. They could find themselves locked out of their own website, or t…
  • The Cost And Benefits Of Discipleship
    Vital Posts
    Autumn’s annual return means that most congregations are starting to put together financial plans for next year. The annual fundraising campaign or pledge drive is about to begin. Alongside this work, and at the same time, vestries and finance co…
  • Nitty Gritty
    Vital Posts
    ECF Vital Practices and our new Vestry Resource Guide provide helpful insights on strategic planning and direction for congregations and dioceses. It’s uplifting to witness congregations as they identify their ministry strengths and then prayerfu…
  • Pledge Drive & Plate Offering Analysis Worksheet
    Your Turn
    If you were to analyze giving and pledging trends in your congregation, what trends and patterns would you realize? This worksheet may help you begin this process.
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Resources for Buildings and Grounds
    Vital Posts
    Maintenance or Mission? 5 Resources for Buildings and Grounds Buildings and grounds upkeep can be an overwhelming, thankless task. In the July Vital Practices Digest, we’re sharing five resources to consider when thinking about managing your…
  • Alcohol & The Church, An Update From General Convention
    Vital Posts
    In addition to all the other very exciting things happening at General Convention there’s a lively conversation on an important, sensitive, and timely topic – our church’s relationship with alcohol, addictions, recovery, substance misuse, and…
  • Thinking Personally and Systemically
    Vital Posts
    For the past several days I've spent more time than I probably should following General Convention on Twitter. We're trending! For those who don't tweet, this means our hashtag, #gc78, which basically links all the various tweets about conventio…
  • From Secretary to Administrator
    Vital Posts
    A few weeks ago, I finally got caught up on compiling the time-sheets our church’s parish administrator fills out every week. I know it doesn’t sound like much, nor does it sound very exciting, but it’s all part of a larger shift we’ve been…
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Resources on Episcopal Governance
    Vital Posts
      An Orderly Chaos - Episcopal Governance For the June Vital Practices Digest, we’re sharing five resources on how governance works – or can work – in our Church, from General Convention to your parish vestry or bishop’s com…
  • SWEEPS Out Burnout
    Vestry Papers
    The vestry at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church was in danger of burning out. Something had to give. In “SWEEPS Out Burnout,” senior warden Jeff Bartee shares the steps church leaders took to reframe vestry leadership, drawing on the SWEEPS model …
  • Nice People and Criticism
    Vital Posts
    Most of us are nice people. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, least of all those of our employees or volunteers. Yet criticism is a necessary part of management. From time to time I’ve had to manage people: interns, volunteers, and…
  • Lawn-Mowers, Leaky Pipes, And Prayers
    Vital Posts
    I knew why he was calling so I picked up the phone. I was glad to get an update on his friend’s health condition: Some good news, some not-so-good news. (His friend is also a parishioner.) Prayers were shared. Prayers continue, I reminded him. Wh…
  • Big Data and Small Data
    Vital Posts
    Like communicators everywhere, Episcopal communicators need data to evaluate their effectiveness. But what kind of data: big or small? It’s relatively easy to get numbers: How many people visit the website, how many followers we have on Twi…
  • Local Temperature Control
    Vital Posts
    The clerk shrugged apologetically.    Sorry, it’s a little warm in here, she said. Our corporate office controls the thermostat.    So we shopped, a sheen of sweat on our foreheads. The sweet wind of spring was outside.    Oh, and did…
  • Three Blogs on Stewardship: #3 Buy the Numbers
    Vital Posts
    Okay, so my last post about paid and unpaid, professional and amateur Christians sparked some discussion. I need to be clear about something from the beginning. I am not a cynic. I know that it is tough to discern tone from prose, but am not jaded,…
  • 3 Blogs on Stewardship: #1 Year 'Round Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    I have to be honest, I agonized about the apostrophe in the title of this post for much longer than I should have. I share this with you to show just how much I still have to learn about stewardship (particularly stewardship of time). Take this pos…
  • Revamping The Parochial Report
    Vital Posts
    It’s that time of year again in most Episcopal congregations – time to fill out the parochial report. There’s a lot of good to this report and, in general, I like having reasonable metrics and a disciplined pattern of going through the bo…
  • Wardens’ Work
    Vestry Papers
    In “Warden’s Work,” Neva Rae Fox lifts up the warden’s role as evangelist, sharing stories from conversations with current and former wardens in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.
  • Simplify Scheduling and Sign-Ups
    Tools
    Two easy and free tools to make scheduling a meeting and doing sign-ups online much easier and more flexible for everyone involved.
  • Lessons From a Busy Fall
    Vital Posts
    This has been an unusually busy fall for me. For several weeks, I was working on two issues of Trinity News, the magazine I edit for Trinity Wall Street, at the same time. During these weeks I learned several lessons in patience and project managem…
  • Weaving Story Into All We Do
    Vestry Papers
    Impressed by the warmth, friendliness, and joy found throughout the Grace-St. Luke’s website, I invited Lucy Owens to share their approach with our readers. In “Weaving Story Into All We Do,” Lucy describes a congregation that recognizes sharin…
  • Critical Feedback
    Vital Posts
    Whether we want to hear it or not, paying attention to feedback – solicited or unsolicited – is critical. When we listen for – and to - how others see us, it opens a window on how we, or our ministries, are perceived by others. This month in …
  • Collaboration: 4 Tips to Increase Effectiveness
    Vital Posts
    I always hated group projects in school. Other people were too unpredictable and I never knew what to expect. But give me a to-do list and my own desk in a quiet room and I’ll get things done. Unfortunately, life is not a string of solitary t…
  • Empowered Volunteers
    Vital Posts
    Sharing Vital Practices Over 6,000 church leaders have subscribed to ECF Vital Practices to gain ideas, tools, and resources for building up vibrant ministry. As our congregations start back into the program year, connect your congregation to th…
  • What Do The Numbers Mean?
    Vital Posts
    This past week I signed up for something called SoulPulse. It is designed as both a large research study and a personal resource to help you measure your spiritual life. Twice a day for two weeks, SoulPulse sends you a survey about what you are doing…
  • Summer Sprucing
    Vital Posts
    Spring cleaning is a pipe dream for most congregations. It’s too busy, with Easter and end-of-the-year celebrations. Summers tend to be a little slower and thus a better time for “spring cleaning.” Here’s one place that almost always …
  • Red Flags: Staff Dependent Churches
    Vestry Papers
    Things may seem okay, but there are warning signs of potential decline lurking in many seemingly successful congregations that are staff dependent. This article helps Identify issues and steps to help get started with changes.
  • Steps to Restructuring
    Vital Posts
    Right-sizing the structure of your church is a critical element to its health (and maybe to your sanity as well).    In an earlier blog, I talked about how structure needs to change to support the realities of the congregation. A growing church…
  • Do the Job Descriptions Match the Job?
    Vital Posts
    Summer officially began on Saturday, and your church will probably be a quieter place as programs take a summer break and people leave on vacation. This may be a good time to look at workflow and job descriptions for your church’s staff. I’ve …
  • Restructuring Structures
    Vital Posts
    The announcement was deceptively simple: Sign up to host "Cookies under the Tree." But the path to the announcement was long and winding. Church growth doesn’t just affect Sunday attendance and the bottom line. It also requires a syst…
  • June 2014 Editor’s Letter: Finance and Administration
    Vital Posts
    As congregational leaders, we seek to find the right balance between tending to the temporal matters of our churches and working towards our hopeful vision of what God is asking us to do in our communities. Having the right tools in place helps us …
  • Help When You Need It
    Vestry Papers
    Whether a broken stained glass window or a storm takes the roof off the church, here are recommendations for vestries to consider when evaluating property and casualty insurance plans.
  • For Things Done and Left Undone
    Vestry Papers
    Regular evaluation of all of a church’s insurance policies is an important part of the vestry’s responsibilities. This article looks at types of liability insurance that every congregation should consider
  • Who Can You Call?
    Vestry Papers
    How the Diocese of Massachusetts actively links volunteer consultants with business, financial, or leadership experience with congregations in need of assistance.
  • Finance, Administration, and Leadership Resources
    Your Turn
    Guides, model policies and procedures, financial forms, and other resources to assist congregations, developed by the Congregational Consultants group from the Diocese of Massachusetts.
  • On Being a Stickler (or Not)
    Vital Posts
    Early on in my first job as an office manager, I was pretty easy going. It was a small nonprofit and everyone was busy, so if a coworker needed some help getting his or her timesheets together or forgot to get a receipt, I was not a stickler. I’d…
  • You Need It: Policy & Structure
    Vital Posts
    Policies, structures, and procedures every church needs to think about. Are you swimming naked? In his Vestry Papers article “Swimming Naked,” Ken Quigley notes congregations with endowments may have trouble below the surface that no one …
  • May 2014 Editor's Letter
    Vital Posts
    Thank you.  While this may seem an odd way to start an editor’s letter, I’m eager to show my appreciation for all of the ECF Vital Practices and Vestry Papers bloggers and contributors, Facebook and Twitter followers, readers and subscriber…
  • Electronic Giving Card: For Offering Plate
    Your Turn
    If parishioners give electronically, how will their offerings get blessed? "I give electronically" cards may be the answer.
  • Church Administrators are Saints
    Vital Posts
    Thank, equip, and empower our unsung heroes. As Richelle Thompson writes in her blog post, “Holy (and Heck) Week,” “the intensity of this week is one of the privileges of the vocation, but imagine if the Academy Awards carried on for ei…
  • What is a Church?
    Vital Posts
    Fifty years ago -- even twenty -- that might have seemed a bizarre question. But these days, many things are up for grabs. How regular is regular worship? What constitutes preparation adequate for church leadership? Instruction of young? With walls…
  • Spring Cleaning: Make Room for the Future
    Vital Posts
    Forget the future. We don’t even have room for the present. When you have something that needs to be put away, is there an empty drawer or closet shelf handy? Active files in temporary boxes, plastic tubs of art supplies out in the open, piles of…
  • Sunday School in a Box
    Vital Posts
    I’m a big fan of out-of-the-box thinking, but a new way of doing Sunday School at our church has me thankful for in-the-box preparation. Our congregation is program-size, with an average Sunday attendance of 200. But we’re not quite at th…
  • Volunteering Shouldn't be a Life Sentence.
    Vital Posts
    Yet, in many of our congregations, agreeing to chair a fundraiser or organize an outreach project all too often becomes a lifelong appointment. For people other than Mother Theresa, this inescapable clause eventually engenders bitterness and resent…
  • Consent Agendas
    Your Turn
    Looking for ways to make your meetings more productive? Consider adopting the practice of using a consent agenda.
  • A New Year's Gift? Move the Annual Meeting
    Vital Posts
    Once the calendar hits late August, the rest of the year feels, like such a rush: Going from the late summer organization of the program year, to the autumn stewardship drive, then finding yourself generally unprepared to “be prepared” during A…
  • New Year’s Resolutions
    Vital Posts
    As 2014 approaches, many people, including us at ECF Vital Practices, are busy preparing for Christmas, tending to tasks to close out 2013, and considering personal and professional resolutions and goals for the coming year. In this midmonth digest…
  • A Brave New World
    Vital Posts
    “Who’s your IT person?” A few months ago I asked the vestry this, after I recognized that almost every small business in America seemed to have an ‘IT guy.’ During the weeks before that conversation, we’d been dealing with some, sha…
  • Giving Thanks & Getting Ready
    Vital Posts
    The Christmas frenzy is already taking over and steamrolling Thanksgiving and the period of preparation that is Advent. In this midmonth digest, we offer ways to slow down, to give thanks, and, at the same time, bring back some of ECF Vital Practic…
  • Surprises
    Vital Posts
    Last week was a week of surprises, and not the pleasant kind. There were network issues and train delays and last minute changes to a project I was working on, and while it all worked out just fine, the week didn’t exactly conform to my plan. I …
  • Kitchens and Relationships
    Vital Posts
    There’s a really great cartoon by Dave Walker called ‘The Church Kitchen.’ (Check him out at www.cartoonchurch.com, by the way, and make sure you click on the link ‘Using Cartoons’ and support his work.) It’s a simple line drawing of a …
  • Discretionary Funds: Guiding Principles
    Your Turn
    Principles for managing clergy discretionary funds.
  • Beyond Average Sunday Attendance (ASA)
    Vital Posts
    In all the talk about church growth and new ways of doing church, there’s one statistic that’s impossible to quantify: the number of people impacted by a parish’s online ministry. For some time now, the gold standard for measuring church …
  • Affordable Care Act: Resources
    Tools
    The Medical Trust offers information and resources to help church employers learn how healthcare reform affects them.
  • Prepare, Practice, Test. Repeat.
    Vital Posts
    September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program equips Episcopal dioceses in the United States to prepare for local disasters, mitigate their impact and help the vulnerable make a full and s…
  • Bylaws & Shared Ministry, Part 3: Entrusting and Empowering Parish Staff
    Vital Posts
    This is third post in a three part series, read Part 1: Unburdening the Vestry here and Part 2: The Difference Between Vestry and Congregation here.  Decentralized leadership and shared authority, as I’ve written in previous posts, are crit…
  • The “ABCD’s” of Asset-Based Disaster Response
    Vital Posts
    September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program equips Episcopal dioceses in the United States to prepare for local disasters, mitigate their impact and help the vulnerable make a full and s…
  • Fall Cleaning?
    Vital Posts
    This weekend we had a party at my apartment and so I spent a bit of time cleaning the apartment, tidying up before and after the party. At work, too, as I’ve become busy and my desk has slowly been engulfed by paper printouts, I’ve had to make …
  • Assessing Risk to People and Property
    Vital Posts
    September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program equips Episcopal dioceses in the United States to prepare for local disasters, mitigate their impact and help the vulnerable make a full and s…
  • Valuing Volunteers
    Vital Posts
    This Saturday I spent some time putting together a mosaic at Charlotte’s Place, Trinity Wall Street’s community center. This is part of an ongoing art project in which parishioners and staff and even tourists who stop by can help create a mosai…
  • Trapper Keepers for Back-to-Church
    Vital Posts
    I want a Trapper Keeper. And folders with pockets, wide-ruled notebooks, and gallon-size bags for the class to share. I secretly like back-to-school shopping: it gives me a sense of organization that feeds my inner control needs. What I wish …
  • Beer and Liturgy
    Vital Posts
    Over the weekend I made beer, or what I hope will become beer. This involves hops and yeast and cooking mash and pots full of something called wort and a lot of temperature taking. I tend to get a little anxious about getting the measurements j…
  • Who Gets Keys?
    Vital Posts
    Who gets the keys to the Kingdom? Thankfully key distribution for the Kingdom of God isn’t up to us, but church keys sure can be a source of conflict and anxiety. Just as the disciples trip over themselves asking who gets to sit next to …
  • New Tools For Summer
    Vital Posts
    Now that we're in the middle of summer, many congregations are enjoying a more relaxed atmosphere with combined services and programs on break until Labor Day. This month, we're sharing tools and resources to try out this summer, with an e…
  • Just Ask
    Vital Posts
    I know New York has a reputation for being filled with rude, unfriendly people, but I have discovered that New Yorkers love to give directions. Giving directions is a chance to demonstrate that we’ve lived here awhile and know our way around. New…
  • Who's Responsible for What?
    Vital Posts
    Budget setting time! Does it bring up feelings of excitement and anticipation for the year ahead--or feelings of dread at the arguments and tension to ensue? Some tension around budget setting does have to do with the reality that money is no…
  • The Gift of Volunteers
    Vital Posts
    At first blush what could be better than a group of people willing to give their time and energy to support various facets of your work for free? In times of tightened budgets and downsized staffs, such individuals are invaluable assets for keeping…
  • Photo Release Form
    Your Turn
    When you post photos, especially of children, it's important to have permission. Sample photo release form - in English and Spanish
  • Radical Budgeting
    Vital Posts
    The parish was ahead of its time. In 2002, it was well on the way to making LGBT-inclusive, multicultural, bilingual urban church a reality. At the same time, it was already facing realities still a few years down the road for parishes in more afflue…
  • In Case of Disaster....
    Tools
    In the face of devastating loss, what are some of the key things a church community needs to do?
  • Sweating the Small Stuff...
    Vital Posts
    Good administration is good pastoral care. This is something a pastor I know likes to say. If you’ve ever gone to a meeting without an agenda or received a message about an event that didn’t include the date and time, you probably know it’s t…
  • What's the Plan?
    Vital Posts
    Do you have the tools you need? In the May and June issues of Vestry Papers, our theme is Leadership In a Time of Crisis. We have seen that when a natural disaster strikes, scandal occurs, or community conflict erupts, vital and healthy congreg…
  • In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash!
    Vital Posts
    How Trust is Often Undermined PART 1: Email Etiquette I saw this sign hanging prominently in a tattoo parlor: “In God we trust, all others pay CASH.” At the time, I thought it was funny. But after reflecting on it, I realize that the sign w…
  • Disaster Prep: Before, During, & After
    Tools
    Every parish has the potential of a devastating disaster. Are you prepared? These resources may help.
  • Bulletins, Telephones, and Databases... oh my!
    Vital Posts
    Let’s face it - it’s a tough job being a church administrator. Whether an employed staff of dozens or a solitary volunteer, this is a vital part of our mission and ministry. How many ways have you been grateful for the ministry of your administ…
  • Explain Why, or People Will Leave
    Vital Posts
    The other day I attended a fire and emergency safety training at work. The instructor, who has many years of experience as a New York City fireman, talked to us about which staircase to use in case of a fire, what to do in case of an earthquake (st…
  • Tech Tools We Use Everyday
    Vital Posts
    Recently, I've had several conversations with heads of Episcopal organizations in which they discussed their efforts to work more efficiently through technology. Because of these conversations, I thought I would create a short list of the tech tool…
  • Priest as CEO? A Response
    Vital Posts
    Jeremy Sierra’s “Priest as CEO” blog post raised the question: “is the Church preparing them for this role?” and generated the following comment:  "A question or two ... are priests to personally embody all of the roles/functions that…
  • Priest as CEO...
    Vital Posts
    ... is the Church preparing them for this role? I know a lot of Episcopal priests. My father and my close friend are priests, I’ve worked at three Episcopal Churches and been involved in several others, and I’ve met a lot of seminarians. Jus…
  • Managing Volunteers? Remember these 9 Tips
    Vital Posts
    Creating something is never easy, whether it’s publishing a newsletter or planning a dinner. It’s even harder when those working on the project are volunteers. Any work that gets done has to be accomplished between work and time with family and…
  • A Suggested Order of Meeting (for Vestry Meetings)
    Tools
    In this new era the vestry and all leader groups will seek to give the congregation the gift of missional leadership. The governance functions in this agenda are concentrated, allowing greater time for the development of an atmosphere of discipleshi…
  • Crisis Preparedness: Making a Plan
    Tools
    Is your congregation prepared for a crisis? Do you have a written, easy to access guide for dealing with a crisis? Are your staff and congregational leaders familiar with/trained to deal with a crisis should it arise?
  • Calendaring
    Vital Posts
    I was in utter disbelief when I heard Christmas anthems being played on my friend's computer. He had been planning for Christmas Eve services as far back as August, while at that time my mind was focused on a busy September lineup of fall programs.…
  • Advent: Are You Ready Already?
    Vital Posts
    For our November mid-month email blast, we have a collection of articles and resources for you to use this Advent season as a time of preparation and in this spirit to prepare the way for those occasional and new visitors alike.  We hope in a hectic …
  • Help for the Holidays
    Vital Posts
    I love the holidays. I enjoy Advent candles and the Christmas decorations, picking out a tree, the midnight service on Christmas Eve. And, I occasionally find them stressful. There’s always a lot to do. As an employee of the church I’ve had to …
  • Saving One Tree
    Vital Posts
    One tree makes 8,333 sheets of paper. So says Yahoo! Answers. So I’m estimating that our nearly paperless diocesan convention earlier this month saved, drum roll, please, … one tree. And maybe a thick branch too. At 2-cents a …
  • Policy, Schmolicy
    Vital Posts
    Very few of us can get excited about policy. The “committee on governance” rarely suffers from over-subscription. Even I catch myself apologizing when I include it in a vestry retreat outline. Policy isn’t just a snore. It intrudes on our…
  • Screencast
    Vital Posts
    We rolled out a new online registration system for diocesan convention. The confusion and questions started almost immediately. We want to offer good customer service, to be helpful and responsive to parishioners. But we also wanted to find…
  • Using Doodle for Liturgical Scheduling
    Vital Posts
    It was a comedy of errors admittedly – I was still relatively new to my position as a parish administrator and the person in question had been out of town and out of email communication. Unfortunately, we were also less than 48 hours to Christmas…
  • Is your calendar a circus?
    Vital Posts
    Managing calendars shouldn't be akin to running a three-ring circus.  But at both the parish and diocesan level, keeping track of myriad events can sometimes require the skills of juggler, trapeze artist and flamethrower. All too often, at…
  • Doodle your way to Simpler Scheduling
    Vital Posts
    It’s Friday afternoon, well after reminders were sent and bulletins were printed, and you get the dreaded email: “I can’t serve this Sunday.” And no substitute has been arranged either. Similarly, your Budget Committee is meeting with the B…
  • Narrative Budget Template
    Your Turn
    Have you thought about building your congregation's budget around your mission story? Here's a template to help you get started.
  • Procedures: A Vital Practice
    Vital Posts
    September is here, which means that many churches are kicking off the program year. It also means new volunteers, full of energy and new ideas. This can be a blessing for church staff, but the amount of work involved can also be overwhelming, parti…
  • Managing Volunteers
    Vital Posts
    As an administrator at a nonprofit and later a church, I was often seeking volunteers. However, it turned out that sometimes volunteers actually created more work. I’d occasionally have to refold the bulletins, or sometimes there was plenty of wo…
  • Incarnational vs. Functional – A Search Process
    Vital Posts
    My worst surprise returning from sabbatical was to find that my bishop had hired away my Director of Children and Youth Ministries to become the chaplain at the University of Washington. He now owes me a curate and two deacons to be named later, be…
  • So, You Only Work One Day a Week?
    Vital Posts
    As I have re-entered after my sabbatical, I have become painfully aware of what a priest with oversight of a congregation actually does with their time. I am also aware at how much of this is subterranean in its aspects with regard to the wider kno…
  • June 2012 Editor's Letter
    Vital Posts
    As July approaches, and with it our church’s 77th General Convention, I find myself looking forward to the 10 days I plan to be in Indianapolis. My first General Convention was 2003 in Minneapolis and, despite having taken an “Introduction to G…
  • Episcopal and Baptist Governance
    Vestry Papers
    As a teenager David Perkins was called as a Baptist minister. Years later, he joined the Episcopal Church, in part because of its governance.
  • Connecting the Dots
    Vestry Papers
    Bonnie Anderson 'connects the dots' from our revolutionary roots to today's vesty.
  • Defining the Gobbledygook
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes the bend of my learning curve has been more like an arrow: the amount of knowledge I have on a subject can only go up. When I interviewed for my job at the diocese, I told them it was great that we'd have two people in communications--I…
  • Babies, Bathwater, and Structure
    Vital Posts
    There's a reason you don't throw the baby out with the bath water. I've been thinking about this adage through the extensive discussions about structure -- both on the church-wide level and within dioceses and congregations. It's clear tha…
  • Learn About General Convention
    Tools
    Trying to describe the Episcopal Church's General Convention? These resources can help...
  • Being Prepared
    Vital Posts
    What does being prepared have to do with laundry? Not much except… This morning, with a favorable weather forecast after days of rain and drizzle, I threw my down comforter in the washing machine, with plans to dry it outside on the portable …
  • Technology: Tools for Churches
    Vital Posts
    My girlfriend and I have been watching Downton Abbey, which you may have heard about if you live in the Western hemisphere. In the last episode of season one, set in 1914, the Earl’s country house gets a telephone. Some of the staff wonders whom …
  • Silence in the Office and the Meeting Room
    Vital Posts
    For the first time in my life I have my own office. In the past I’ve shared offices, sat at the receptionist’s desk, which was basically in a glass box, and had a desk in the office lobby, where I never knew when my boss would pop out of his of…
  • Copyright Guidelines for Churches
    Tools
    Linda Grenz writes in her Vital Posts blog, "Churches often fail to observe copyright laws, or even the basics of courtesy. We have this unfortunate habit of thinking that just because it is "for the church" it is OK..."
  • Do the Right Thing!
    Vital Posts
    Churches often fail to observe copyright laws, or even the basics of courtesy. We have this unfortunate habit of thinking that just because it is "for the church" it is OK if I make a few copies of this or that. So, Sunday School teachers photocopy…
  • Knowledge is Power
    Vestry Papers
    In “Knowledge is Power,” William Doubleday introduces congregational leaders to the resources available to them in Canon 7: Of Business Methods in Church Affairs.
  • Being on the Same Page
    Vestry Papers
    “Being on the Same Page” by Ron Pogue, reminds us of the value of our congregation’s governing documents and how they can be a useful tool for decision making.
  • From Above or Below?
    Vestry Papers
    Alberto Cutié shares key differences in governance between the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches. Available in both Spanish and English.
  • Our Story
    Vestry Papers
    “Our Story” by Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook explores the roots of our democratic style of governance and invites us to consider ways to balance an organization’s need for order with its equally important need for creativity and risk-taking.
  • Emailing vs. Spamming
    Vital Posts
    When does email cross the line and become spam? Using email as part of your congregation’s communications strategy requires collecting email addresses. What’s our responsibility regarding stewardship of this resource? Last week, this questi…
  • Christlike Conversation
    Vital Posts
    Este artículo esta disponible en español aquí. We’ve all been in one of those meetings: a meeting that goes on and on, in which people repeat each other or seem to speak just to hear themselves talk or in which strong emotions inhibit th…
  • The Blurry Line Between Personal and Professional
    Vital Posts
    Though we often try to keep them separate, work life and personal life intermingle in any job. For the staff of a church this is especially tricky. The church is deeply personal for members of the community. It’s a community made up of relationsh…
  • Small Groups
    Vital Posts
    I have served on vestries and participated in men’s Bible studies and groups for young adults. All of these groups have defined boundaries – not everyone can join them. There is a part of me that is a bit uncomfortable with a group in which membe…
  • Manual of Business Methods in Church Affairs
    Tools
    A comprehensive, user-friendly manual which supports the increasingly complex work of all treasurers and parish administrators. Available in English and Spanish.
  • Taking Care of Business
    Vital Posts
    I've been getting email inquiries about money. Not scams urging me to wire funds to needy causes abroad, nor do I mean grant requests. These come from parish leaders wrestling with money and finances. Some of the questions are fairly straightfo…
  • Being Nice or Not
    Vital Posts
    I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between being nice and being kind. In my experience, it’s a distinction that church leaders often struggle with as well, especially staff. This may not be true in every church – we all know that some peop…
  • Editor’s Letter - February 2012
    Vital Posts
    Greetings. One of the joys of my role as editor of ECF Vital Practices is the discovery of resources to share through this website. Each day I comb through email messages, online publications, Facebook, as well as a variety of websites and prin…
  • Parity in Healthcare
    Vestry Papers
    In 2009 the Episcopal Church’s 76th General Convention voted to require equal access to and funding of health care plans for eligible clergy and lay employees by January 1, 2013.
  • Sample Job Descriptions: Parish Administrator
    Tools
    Looking to update your parish administrator's job description? Take a look at these examples.
  • Providing Pensions to Your Lay Employees
    Vestry Papers
    The Episcopal Church has encouraged congregations and other institutions to provide pension benefits to lay employees for decades. And in 2009, the 76th General Convention made it a matter of canonical law.
  • Managing Staff: 7 Things To Consider
    Vestry Papers
    Churches are often full of secrets. Nothing sinister, just quirks you wouldn’t notice unless you spent a lot of time sitting at the receptionist’s desk or in the parish administrators’ office.
  • Administrator as Minister
    Vital Posts
    While I was working at an Episcopal Church in Houston, I’d often spend hours listening. I’d listen to the homeless men and women who came in the door, I’d listen to people who called up with messages for the priests, and I’d listen to paris…
  • Interruptions
    Vital Posts
    I worked at a church in which the fire alarm would occasionally go off. There were never any fires, just a little too much incense or something like that. I was the parish administrator, and occasionally I’d be working on the service and the ligh…
  • 13 Bosses: Supervising the Parish Administrator
    Vital Posts
    The rector would like a printout of the leaflet by Thursday. The choir director needs a few checks written for musicians playing at a concert on Friday. The treasurer is requesting a report, the senior warden needs to schedule some roof repairs, a…
  • Our Very Own Christmas Special
    Vital Posts
    Here's a guilty pleasure: Christmas specials.  I like them on TV (Rudoph the Red Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas come to mind) and I especially like them as desserts. "I'll have five of Santa's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, tha…
  • Feeling Connected
    Vital Posts
    Editor's Note: ECF Vital Practices welcomes Jeremiah Sierra who will share his thoughts, experiences, and recommendations related to our churches from his vantage point as a parish administrator. It’s a funny thing when someone asks you not to…
  • Beyond Functions: An Incarnational Ministry Fair
    Vital Posts
    With Kick-off Sunday under our belts, many churches turn to the Ministry Fair to jumpstart recruitment for all the numerous parish ministries needing warm bodies to keep their mission going. Many times these look like this: a parish hall set up wit…
  • Be Ready
    Vital Posts
    Two nights ago I arrived home to find no power on the property. So much for plugging in the laptop and writing a blog post! But I got the flashlight, managed to warm up some dinner on the gas stove, then went to bed early. The power outage is a…
  • Avoid Unhappy Surprises
    Vestry Papers
    I’m the new warden of St. William’s in the Woods. The Deep Woods.
  • Taking it to the Streets
    Vital Posts
    Members of another urban congregation are picketing the second service of St. John’s in Columbus, Ohio. The service is Street Church, where for the past five years, the Rev. Lee Anne Reat presides over a full Eucharist on a street corner in…
  • Tax Credit?
    Vital Posts
    Today’s blog post might just save your congregation some money. Last week, Bishop Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina learned that two of the congregations in his diocese were eligible for a tax credit through the Health Care Act of 2010. …
  • Program Year Start Up Checklist
    Vital Posts
    This time of year, I feel like my old elementary school principal. It was his job to get old Boardman School whipped into shape for the school year. It was an old, old building but when the kids arrived on the first day of school it smelled new. Ne…
  • Taking My Leave
    Vital Posts
    I am five months away from the first sabbatical of my 30 year priesthood, not too early to start planning for my leave time and what will go on at the parish while I am gone. I am very blessed to have two of my priest associates on board to take o…
  • Volunteer Accountability
    Vital Posts
    It’s tough being a volunteer or lay leader. Volunteers are often under-appreciated, over-worked, and mis-managed. It can be equally difficult when a volunteer drops the ball. Sometimes volunteers don’t show up because they had something els…
  • Hard Decisions, Winning Strategies
    Vital Posts
    I’ve been musing about an article in Newsweek by Jack and Suzy Welch. Jack Welch was, of course, the chairman and CEO of General Electric for 20 years, leaving in 2001. He wrote the book, Winning, with his soon-to-be wife, Suzy, amid some controv…
  • Annual Review
    Vital Posts
    This morning I took the cats to the vet. Not my favorite thing to do, as my two cats are experts at eluding capture. Yet, over time I’ve learned ways to make ‘herding the cats’ into their carriers an easier task. I haven’t, however, figured…
  • Administrator as Minister
    Vital Posts
    When I called Gwen at 9:15 Monday morning the parish office was already abuzz. Gwen, our parish administrator, had just returned from a week vacation yet still took time for a long conversation with me. The purpose was a bit unusual – an intervie…
  • The Next Meeting Tango...
    Vital Posts
    You're at the end of a long meeting. Significant issues have been discussed, weighed, and finally decided. Then the next-meeting tango begins. Out come the Blackberries, iPhones, Droids, and the seriously un-flashy, but always reliable paper calend…
  • Hard Times/Courageous Change?
    Vital Posts
    Yesterday started on a good note. I got two promising leads for new clients and won the drawing at the Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast. Later in the morning I met the woman I’ll be collaborating with on a project for a current client.…
  • The Church Website Through the Ages
    Vital Posts
    It all started back on October 23, 1995. That’s the first record of a conversation in which a member of the congregation asked the minister during the coffee hour “Do you think we need a homepage on the World Wide Web for our parish?” Th…
  • Summer as its own Liturgical Season
    Vital Posts
    This week we enter one of my favorite seasons of the church year. I don’t mean the Season of Pentecost. I mean the Season of Summer. While not strictly its own color-coded calendar section, the liturgical Season of Summer probably represen…
  • Introducing the Denominational Health Plan
    Vestry Papers
    In July 2009, the 76th General Convention passed Resolution A177, establishing the Denominational Health Plan (DHP), a Church-wide program of health care benefit plans requiring equal access to and funding of health care plans for eligible clergy and…
  • What's your Impact?
    Vital Posts
    Could anyone have anticipated the impact of the resurrection? Talk about long-term outcomes! Jesus had a plan in mind, but the disciples seemed surprised and amazed by the early impact of their ministry with him. Feeding more than 5,000 people,…
  • Editor's Letter: Caring for Each Other
    Vital Posts
    Our congregational life is a common life, complete with the joys and challenges that come from being in relationship. As congregational leaders, our role involves managing the sometimes ‘sticky wickets’ of relationship that hamper our work of b…
  • Valuing Lay Employees
    Vestry Papers
    This article readers to the church-wide lay employee pension system.
  • 10-Minute Rule
    Vital Posts
    If the church is on fire, tell the rector. Otherwise, in the final 10 minutes before a service starts, try to resist peppering your priest with questions or reports about some failure of performance – people or facilities (or both). I…
  • Backbreaking Meetings
    Vital Posts
    So far this week: eight meetings in three days. Whether I like it or not, meetings form the backbone of my day, vertebrae linking ideas, people, and action. Yet one-third of all meetings are considered unnecessary by the people who attend them.…
  • Google and the Human Touch
    Vital Posts
    Leading a team is really hard. Can Google help? Two weeks ago, the New York Times ran an article on Google’s 8-Point Plan to Build a Better Boss. The 8-Point Plan was the fruit of a two-year project in which a team analyzed Google performance…
  • State of the Church Part 2
    Vital Posts
    How do you summarize the state of the Episcopal Church in one 20-page report? What status reports are most helpful for the church-at-large as it seeks to live out its mission in the world? How do you crunch a sea of statistics into a usable form fo…
  • State of the Church Part 1
    Vital Posts
    I am currently at a meeting of the House of Deputies State of the Church Committee in Atlanta where we are preparing the 67th report of this committee. Since 1808, every three years our report has been submitted to the General Convention of the chu…
  • Trialability
    Vital Posts
    Podcasts, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook. We hear continually how churches need to embrace the new social media to help share our good news. Yet so few of us do it, or it takes forever to get it going. What’s going on? Trialability. …
  • Responding to the Call, Part 2
    Vital Posts
    Back in November, I wrote about forming the fourth mutual discernment group in my four years as rector as another member of our church seeks clarity on a call to priesthood. In the intervening months our bishop and Commission on Ministry have draft…
  • New Ministry Celebrations
    Vital Posts
    I have attended the new ministry celebrations for two absolutely amazing women priests who have now become rectors in the Diocese of Olympia. Rachel Taber-Hamilton is now in charge of Trinity, Everett, and Carla Pryne is the new pastor for Holy Spi…
  • A Tapestry of Ministries
    Vital Posts
    It was a week of snow, ice, wind, and rain. Numerous flight cancellations and airport closures laid havoc across the country. Add to this job layoffs, pay cuts, and budget struggles. Not to mention planning for Lent and preparing a Sunday sermon. …
  • Proceed with Caution
    Vital Posts
    The front page photo shows a car buried in snow. TV news reports tell stories of collapsed roofs, frozen pipes, and hazardous travel conditions. In my neighborhood the snow piles are getting smaller. Walking home from an appointment, I saw de…
  • What’s Your Church’s Economic Worth?
    Vital Posts
    When St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Waco, Texas closed their school in 2006, it impacted both the congregation and the community. Students and families needed to find new schools. School faculty and staff were unemployed. The empty school buildi…
  • Snow Days...
    Vital Posts
    Eastern Massachusetts is in the midst of its fourth or fifth ‘major’ snowfall since Christmas. The governor has asked all ‘non-essential’ workers to stay home; the TV crawl is filled with notices of closed schools and organizations, includi…
  • New Kind of Potluck at the Annual Meeting
    Vital Posts
    An announcement of the annual meeting can be as welcome as the postcard reminder of your  dental appointment: You know you’ve got to do it, but you’re not going to enjoy it.  Often, it seems, annual meetings stick to the same-old agenda -- …
  • Per your request
    Vestry Papers
    I recently received a phone call from a rector seeking information about what to pay her staff.
  • Three Time-Savers
    Vestry Papers
    The agenda and the treasurer’s report should be distributed to vestry members a week in advance of the meeting.
  • Thanks for Sharing
    Vital Posts
    In High School my friends and I would sometimes say “Thanks for sharing!” in a tone that only high schoolers can truly pull off: sarcastic and sing-songy at the same time. Directed at a friend, it became both a loving tease and dismissal, as sh…
  • Who’s New and Who’s Missing
    Vital Posts
    This article is also available in Spanish here. Este artículo está disponible en español aquí. Each Monday for a half-hour four of us gather and go through an exercise called “Who’s New and Who’s Missing.” It is a quick check-…
  • Statistical Data on Episcopal Congregations
    Tools
    Do you know your congregation's statistics? Information is available: use this data to enhance your knowledge about your diocese, congregation, and local community.
  • My December To Do List
    Vital Posts
    I tried to switch my calendar, address book and To Do Lists to my iPhone to help organize my life but it just didn’t work. I have switched back to my trustee Daytimer with two pages per day for appointments and lists. It is the same system I have…
  • In the Beginning was the Word
    Vestry Papers
    In the beginning was the Word. To me, although there is opinion to the contrary, tat makes communications the oldest profession in the world.
  • Making a List....
    Vital Posts
    Yesterday, on a day off, I felt caught in a strange place between endings and beginnings. I had my usual list of personal tasks to accomplish in limited hours. Yet it had the strange aura that only comes at this particular time of year. Encroaching…
  • New Year's Resolutions
    Vital Posts
    The Church year has just begun with Advent I so now is a great time to make some resolutions that will make parish ministry more manageable in the year to come. Here goes: 1. Making a list and checking it twice. Buckle down and get all the data…
  • Advent Parish Checklist
    Your Turn
    Parish "to-do's" before the holidays and year-end.
  • Wardens as Stewards: A Call for Excellence
    Your Turn
    This is an essay I have compiled for the new wardens workshop I have done for the Diocese of NY for many years.
  • And the Gold Goes to ...
    Vital Posts
    E-mail addresses are gold. By Olympic award standards, the bronze medal goes to snail mail addresses. Cell phone numbers snag the silver. But e-mail addresses rise to the top of the podium. Managing the database for a congregation…
  • The Balance Between Crazy and Amazing
    Vital Posts
    My diocese is not known to have many money problems.    But when a committee started drafting the 2011 budget, they realized we were facing a shortfall. Like every church organization, we’ve tightened our belts, frozen salaries, and made toug…
  • Is your vestry 'committee of the whole,' leaving a hole?
    Vital Posts
    Haga clic aquí para leer una traducción al español de este artículo. Does your vestry try to do it all in monthly slugfests where every issue the church faces is pulled out on the carpet and discussed? Does most of the thinking come off …
  • I do my filing once a year whether I need to or not....
    Vital Posts
    I just booked the cottage at our diocesan retreat center on the Olympic Peninsula for my annual Advent filing marathon retreat. In a 36-hour period in a beautiful relaxed setting accompanied by French-roast coffee in the morning and a good red wine…
  • Handcuffed by governance?
    Vital Posts
    Do you believe the Episcopal Church's system of governance helps or hinders your congregation's ability to carry out God's Mission? During her remarks at the Executive Council's first plenary session, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori chal…
  • Spending Rules for Endowments
    Webinars
    Using proper spending rules with your endowment is key to maintaining confidence and trust with your congregation and a key component of proper endowment management. Participants will learn about policies and practices to protect, manage, and grow yo…
  • Year Round Stewardship
    Webinars
    Looking to move from a basic annual appeal to a year-round, holistic theology of stewardship in your parish? How does a parish's leadership do this in easy, practical ways? What are the benefits and what can you expect for volunteer support? In this…
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