• Time to be a Gracious Loser ✓
    Vital Posts
    I planned to be a gracious winner the week after the election.  I wasn’t going to rub it in the faces of folks who had been Donald Trump supporters. My social media presence would be demure, and while I expected to dance a little jig inside, …
  • Building Strong Teams: A Tool for Identifying and Addressing Five Common Areas of Dysfunction ✓
    Tools
    ECF Vital Teams consultant Rosa Lindahl believes a leadership team’s capacity to move into the future depends on its ability to function effectively. What can we, as congregational leaders, do to discuss more openly and honestly the ways in which o…
  • Vestry as Body of Christ ✓
    Vestry Papers
  • Avoiding the Quick Fix ✓
    Vestry Papers
    The greatest gift vestry members can give their churches is creative, positive challenge and support of their rector(s).
  • Elephants in the Sanctuary ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Conflict. It’s inevitable. It occurs every day, in every facet of our lives.
  • No More Parking Lot Conversations ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Highly functioning, fruitful vestries are built on transparency and respect.
  • Walk Humbly with Your God
    Vital Posts
    I don’t know all of the particulars about who and how the lessons of the lectionary were chosen, but it seems to me they must have been thinking about Annual Meetings when they chose the ones for Sunday, January 29, this year. From Micah: “…
  • Fear of the "Other"
    Vital Posts
    The news was frightening – and frighteningly familiar. An attack on students at Ohio State University. Accounts of an active shooter turned into active assailant who by all counts purposefully plowed into a group of students and professors, and t…
  • Prayer First
    Vital Posts
    Today, we vote. And hopefully, we pray. I have heard time and again from people that they’re so frustrated with this election season, with the vitriol and mud slinging, that the only thing that’s left to do is pray. And I agree. Except on o…
  • The Not Forgetting
    Vital Posts
    Years ago, in a pastoral liturgy class at General Seminary, I learned what is still one of my favorite words. Anamnesis is the name for the part of the Eucharistic prayer where we tell the story of how we came to be saved through Jesus’ death an…
  • When Words Fail, Pray.
    Vital Posts
    When Facebook feeds are filled with political vitriol, when newscasts are rated NC-17, when loved ones who espouse a different opinion want to convert you, pray. This election season, perhaps like no other in recent memory, has left many speech…
  • Stuff We Can’t Fix
    Vital Posts
    The fall equinox is here. Days are growing shorter, and even drought-scorched Los Angeles is showing signs of cooling down. It’s been an overwhelming summer. The unrelenting violence around the nation and the world has gotten to me. Police sh…
  • UnCivil Wars
    Vital Posts
    The insults are fast and furious, quick as fingers can type. Disdain drips from comments. There’s unfriending and dismissal, with malcontents and earnest disagreement getting mixed into a giant slurry of an uncivil war. This political season …
  • Independence Day Reflection
    Vital Posts
    Two hundred and forty years ago, representatives of the thirteen English colonies in North America declared their independence. They took this action on the second of July. We celebrate the day of its signing: July 4th. Of course, fireworks lit the…
  • On Building Walls, Offering Peace, Brexits, and the 4th of July...
    Vital Posts
    There are so many different ways to imagine a country. In the US, we often focus on politics and power. Who’s the president? Who’s in Congress? Who are our friends and enemies? How can we make deals that are good for us? How strong is our econo…
  • Leadership Confidence And Confidentiality
    Vital Posts
    Shortly after arriving at St. George’s, nearly nine years ago, I had lunch with the extended supply priest who preceded me. “One thing I really worked hard on while I was serving there,” she said that afternoon, “was to confront and, I thin…
  • Church and State
    Vital Posts
    The dinner conversation was light and fun, sharing jokes and stories of work, until my dad turned to me. “Richelle, you’re smart in so many ways, but you’re also naïve when it comes to politics.” I braced myself. This wasn’t my f…
  • Jesus is a Chaos Muppet
    Vital Posts
    I’ve finally figured it out. Jesus is a chaos muppet. Bear with me. For those of you who are uptight about taking the Lord’s name in vain, I’m not really suggesting that Jesus is a muppet, not in any literal sort of sense. Though there is…
  • April 2016 Editor’s Letter: Conflict
    Vital Posts
    Conflict may take several forms. Many times it has to do with an imbalance of power or a sense that everyone is not being treated fairly. It may be visible to all or more subtly, be building bit by bit despite the best efforts of those deter…
  • First steps in leading change
    Webinars
    Leading change can be one of the most rewarding - and challenging - aspects of lay and clergy leadership in Episcopal congregations. This webinar focuses on general principles and best practices for leading a change process effectively. The presentat…
  • Conflict Resolution from a Referee
    Vestry Papers
    What can a church learn from a soccer referee? In “title” Scott Peterson, priest and a soccer referee, draws our attention to the ways an experienced referee, in the heat of the moment restores order and engenders trust in his/her decisions. He o…
  • The Courage to Speak
    Vestry Papers
    Speaking up is important in congregations headed down the path of – or embroiled in – conflict and angst. In “The Courage to Speak” Bonnie Anderson reminds congregational leaders of the promise we made in our baptismal covenant to respect the…
  • Overcome Being Conflict Averse
    Vestry Papers
    Are you conflict averse? Most of us learn at an early age to sometimes give the expected answer – rather than a truthful answer - as a way to avoid conflict. In “Overcome Being Conflict Averse” Rich Simpson names this phenomenon and invites l…
  • When Something Goes Wrong
    Vital Posts
    “No comment” is not the answer to poor planning. In a decade as a diocesan communicator, I was the point person on several occasions when something went wrong and the media wanted information. I also spent eight years as the one asking the …
  • March 2016 Editor’s Letter: Conflict
    Vital Posts
    What is it about human behavior that lends itself to conflict? As followers of Christ, rather than pretending differences or bad behaviors don’t exist, can we break the cycle and instead learn new ways of building up the beloved community? …
  • Getting Along in a Really Strange, Big Family
    Vestry Papers
    Can we learn new ways of dealing with conflict? Kay Collier McLaughlin’s “Trying To 'Get Along' In A Really Strange, Big Family” offers an approach to help congregational leaders identify destructive behaviors and replace them with healthier al…
  • Conflict: Is Everyone Being Heard?
    Vestry Papers
    “One size fits all” never fits anyone well. Anna Olson identifies two dominant norms for managing conflict that, given the cultural context of a congregation, may undermine attempts to support healthier communication.
  • 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.
  • Factions to Families: Lessons from 1 Corinthians
    Vestry Papers
    We start by looking back to the early days of Christianity. In “From Factions to Families: Lessons from 1 Corinthians,” C.K. Robertson reminds us that Paul’s advice to the Corinthians has stood the test of time. He suggests we have a choice: Un…
  • “They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love.”
    Vital Posts
    The campfire song goes, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” I’ve never heard the lyrics with substitutes, like, “They’ll know we are Christians because we’re right.” Or because the other person was more wrong (at least …
  • Telling the Difficult Stories
    Vital Posts
    It’s easier to avoid the difficult stories. We know this in our personal lives, of course: no one really likes to talk about their divorce, or the time they got fired. It’s also true in communities: we don’t talk about the families who left b…
  • Norms & Covenants: Tools to Strengthen Your Team
    Vestry Papers
    Effective teams need a safe and open work environment where all members can openly share their ideas, concerns, and hopes. In “A New Year, A New Vestry” Nancy Davidge looks at how norms and covenants can help a vestry create that safe space.
  • Other People’s Beautiful
    Vital Posts
    My kids learned a phrase at summer camp that has come in handy during many family meals: “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.” In church, yum-yucking is probably less of a problem than at summer camp. There’s usually enough food on the p…
  • Spirit of Power
    Vital Posts
    Passengers gathered at the gate in the Midwest city airport. We were calm, normal Americans, getting on with business or vacations or whatever. I was reading Morning Prayer on my iPad when I heard voices from the overhead television offering divers…
  • Paris
    Vital Posts
    My grief for this broken week in the world caught up with me during church on Sunday, as our associate rector led a beautiful and gentle children’s sermon about hearing scary news. The sermon ended with our kids carrying candles to place on the a…
  • The Importance of Failure
    Vital Posts
    We failed. Not a big, catastrophic failure. Nothing that will change the future of humankind, the nature of the neighborhood, or the flavor of the church. But a fundraiser idea that I pitched and planned two years ago has died. Essentially, I…
  • Let's Drop the 'Us vs. Them'
    Your Turn
    As the 'official' presidential campaigns nears, it is imperative that followers of Jesus do whatever necessary to change the climate of 'us vs. them'.
  • Lessons from My Dog: Letting Go
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes my dog barks. I know, this is not unusual, but I wish he wouldn’t. We have neighbors. Sometimes he startles me. But he’s a dog so he barks. In fact, he does all sorts of things I wish he wouldn’t. He growls at other dogs, li…
  • Manny the Mystery Dog
    Vital Posts
    About a week ago, my wife, Denise, and I adopted a dog. He looks a bit like a cross between a tiny sheep and an Ewok (he’s probably a Shih Tzu), and he brings with him a lot of questions: Like, how do I put his leash on him when he is jumping up …
  • Demons
    Vital Posts
    The pleas are urgent: If you’ve seen Joe, contact us immediately. No one has heard from him in two days. Cell phone is dead. Joe, a high school classmate, has fought the demon of alcohol for years. No one knows if he’s back in its grip. B…
  • Loving Thy Neighbor
    Vital Posts
    The clubhouse was bigger than we anticipated. Our plan was to have the guys build the clubhouse in the woods behind our house. We had cleared a flat space and put in some railroad-tie steps down the incline. But the builders nixed the idea. T…
  • The Surprising Power of Sorry
    Vital Posts
    What do we do with broken history? There is no going back and fixing the atrocities of the past, nor denying that they play a powerful role in shaping the present. None of us can disentangle as individuals from stolen land, enslaved lives, su…
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Resources for Conflict in Congregations
    Vital Posts
    Conflict in Congregations In this month’s Vital Practices Digest, we’re sharing 5 ways congregations can address or manage conflict while also building trust and well-being. Our 5th resource is offered to help congregations…
  • Who's in Charge Here?
    Vital Posts
    Alleluia! Gosh, it feels good to say that again. From the darkness of the Easter Vigil it suddenly rang out: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” The victory is won! We are bold and jubilant. This is so different from the Friday before when we qu…
  • Tearing Down the Church, One Tweet at a Time
    Vital Posts
    Can Twitter reflect the health of our Church? It may not be a far-fetched idea. NPR ran a story a few days ago about research that indicates a strong correlation between the number of angry tweets and the incidence of heart disease in a communi…
  • Scratch-and-Sniff Stickers
    Vital Posts
    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 e…
  • Civil Discourse
    Vital Posts
    The shrill, my-opinion-is-the-only-opinion way of talking, isn't working.  As a society at large and in the wider church as well as our local congregations, we too often divide into like-minded factions, erecting barricades and resentments agai…
  • Dealing with Anger
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes I swear at my computer. When, for example, it freezes up while I am rushing to get something done, I say things to it I would not want anyone else to hear. I don’t feel too bad about this, however (in fact, there is some evidence that s…
  • Thoughts on Ferguson
    Vital Posts
    I grew up on the line between black and white in St. Louis County. Michael Brown was killed less than ten miles from my childhood home. Although I haven’t lived in St. Louis for two decades, I know firsthand the deep, persistent, and toxi…
  • Confronting Clergy-Congregational Conflict
    Vital Posts
    Christ Church in Anytown, USA is an Episcopal congregation with an average Sunday attendance of around 75 and an annual budget of about $150,000 with an aging but beloved physical plant. The parish is facing the usual challenges of finances, and he…
  • Managing Conflict Gracefully
    Vital Posts
    Congregations need leaders who can offer more than just a quick fix.  Is the temperature heating up in your congregation? And not in a good way? While it is unlikely that conflict will ever disappear, the way we respond may make the differen…
  • Letting Go
    Vital Posts
    I'm sitting on the beach, as my niece and daughter sift for seashells. They find treasure in the triangle of a broken sand dollar, in the top slice of a conch shell, in the marble smooth fragment that conjures God as artist.  My son and nephe…
  • Spirals, Rather than Circles...
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes I feel as if I am reading and participating in the same conversations about theology and the Bible and the future of the church and sexuality and gender I’ve been reading and participating in for years now. It’s as if we are going in …
  • Speaking Up
    Vital Posts
    “Preach the truth as if you had a million voices — it is silence that kills the world.” – St. Catherine of Siena I came across this quote while reading this article about a Catholic nun who ministers to the transgender community, in spit…
  • The Circle
    Vital Posts
    As I write this, my fiancée, Denise, is reading over something else I wrote, marking it up. She’s got a big black pen (no red pens on hand at the moment) and she’s even doing some rewriting. It’s a little nerve wracking. But I also know that…
  • Take a Deep Breath
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes you have to count to 100. Or even 1,000. We all know the rule about emailing when we’re mad. Take a deep breath. Pound out the email with all of your frustrations. Then delete the draft, count to 10 (or 100 or more), and rewrite t…
  • The Newsletter Rant
    Vital Posts
    To print or not to print is beside the point, at least for today. More importantly is the type of content contained in the newsletter. Church newsletters should never be seen as a private conversation among parishioners. Instead they should be …
  • 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 …
  • Division
    Vital Posts
    Having an argument in public is always a little embarrassing. Whether it’s disagreeing with your girlfriend about something while at dinner with friends or it’s a public disagreement within your church, you’d rather these things happen in pri…
  • Covenant of Courtesy
    Vital Posts
    At my first visit to a new dentist, I had to fill out paperwork. Among the reams was a surprise: this page asked me questions about my likes and dislikes at the dentist. Do I hate sound of the drill? Do I have a low—or high—tolerance for pain? …
  • Editor's Letter May 2013: Leadership in a Time of Crisis
    Vital Posts
    When I began working on the May Vestry Papers - focusing on leadership during a time of  crisis - it never occurred to me how timely this issue might be. The recent tragedies in Boston and West, Texas, as well as the continuing violence and natural…
  • A Ritual of Reconciliation
    Tools
    A Service of The Holy Eucharist and Healing A Ritual of Reconciliation developed as part of ‘Holy Conversations,’ a process developed in the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington to help congregations paralyzed by conflict, anger, grief, and/or fear beg…
  • Suwa Bona… I See You, I Hear You
    Vestry Papers
    “Suwa Bona… I See You, I Hear You” by Kay Collier McLaughlin introduces ‘Holy Conversations,’ a process developed in the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington to help congregations paralyzed by conflict, anger, grief, and/or fear begin the healing…
  • Crisis Communications: Managing In
    Vestry Papers
    “Crisis Communications: Managing In” by Linda Hanick and Nathan Brockman offers congregations practical recommendations for managing the sometimes overlooked aspect of crisis communications: how and when you communicate within your own organizati…
  • Come and See
    Vital Posts
    A few things have reminded me recently of how inextricably connected we all are, and how easy it is to forget. The first was a visit from the Rt. Rev. Oge Beauvoir, suffragan bishop of Haiti, to Trinity Wall Street. He told us about the challen…
  • Running for Our Lives
    Vital Posts
    “Run with perseverance the race that is set before you.” This quote from St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews sustained me the one year I ran the Boston Marathon — in 2008. Along with the supportive crowds along the entire 26.2 mile course, thi…
  • Patriot's Day 2013
    Vital Posts
    Patriot’s Day Weekend had been going so well. Old North had opened a colonial chocolate shop on Saturday to rave reviews and large crowds. Our Annual Lantern Ceremony on Sunday was virtually flawless. Dr. Jill Lepore’s keynote speech about Benj…
  • Change and Growth
    Vital Posts
    Recently I’ve been watching the West Wing, a show I watched religiously when it first aired. It’s an idealistic, if not particularly realistic, show. Frequently, characters are persuaded to change their minds, often after someone makes a partic…
  • Open and Honest Conversations
    Vital Posts
    Recent postings on Episcopal Cafe remind us of the value of establishing open and honest lines of communication within a congregation and certainly between the vestry and clergy. In each post, the author – a priest or a lay leader – shares what…
  • Giving Peace a Chance
    Vital Posts
    Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Then he goes on to say a bit later to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your father in heaven.” With …
  • Death by a Thousand Cuts
    Vital Posts
    Congregations die for lots of reasons. The most insidious cause, perhaps, and the most common is death by a thousand cuts. I love how Wikipedia defines the phrase: “Creeping normalcy, the way a major negative change, which happens slowly in…
  • Managing Change
    Vital Posts
    I figure the joys of managing change land somewhere between trying to hold onto a block of Jello and being thigh-high in quicksand. I’m in the midst of leading a project – an annual event for our diocese that has been carried out in simil…
  • Don’t Compromise: Collaborate
    Vital Posts
    My husband doesn’t’ t like compromise: He prefers to collaborate. His reasoning? Compromise is giving something up. Collaboration is working together to create something new. Semantics? I used to think so. I’ve since come around to hi…
  • Criticism and Confidence
    Vital Posts
    Many of you have probably read the recent articles in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times about General Convention and about the future of the Episcopal Church. While I think these articles are flawed and problematic, they have generated…
  • Leaving Church
    Vital Posts
    My church is in the midst of making some big decisions about governance, and a member of our advisory committee gave us some helpful advice. He pointed out that individuals who are not fully committed to the community sometimes can have an inordina…
  • I didn't sign up for this.
    Vital Posts
    Over the past ten years of working on various committees and church groups, there have been a few critical moments when I've found myself thinking “I didn’t sign up for this.” Please note: I’m not proud of this fact. For me, this is a boiling…
  • Back to Africa
    Vital Posts
    So it begins. I am on sabbatical for the first time and returning to Africa after 25 years. My time begins with a formal visit to our sister church in Uganda, St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Nakiwogo near Entebbe. In 1987 I traveled to Niger…
  • Richard Hooker on Conflict
    Vestry Papers
    The name Richard Hooker rings no bell for most vestry members. More than a few clergy haven’t heard of him, either.
  • Entrenched
    Vital Posts
    Whether this has happened in your congregation or not, all of us have seen disagreements escalate. It’s a familiar pattern: a disagreement takes a turn for the worse; accusations heat up and nuances are thrown out the window; someone, feeling par…
  • Small Changes, Big Impacts
    Vital Posts
    With the start of 2012, many people - including myself - are considering ways to improve their health and well-being. Resolutions will be made and, if research on New Year’s resolutions is any indication, nearl…
  • What I Didn’t Learn in Geometry, I Learned at Church
    Vital Posts
    Triangulation. It’s the classic killer of many ministries. Person A tells something to Person B, and Person B takes it to Person C. The problem is exponentially exacerbated when Person C actually holds court in the first place with Person B. Ther…
  • Conflict and Decline
    Vital Posts
    Here’s a set of numbers that should give us pause. According to the 2010 Faith Communities Today Survey conducted by the Episcopal Church’s Office of Research, we are a conflictive church. In that survey 61% of Episcopal churches reported that…
  • Wisdom Gathered, Lessons Learned
    Vestry Papers
    There ARE crises that come along that you have to meet.
  • Vestries: Catalysts for Healing
    Vestry Papers
    “What do you think is going to happen?” is a question I hear often in discussions of the aftermath of the sexuality decisions of the 2003 General Convention.
  • Fit to Go the Distance
    Vestry Papers
    Don’t read this piece if you are looking for some McGod off the shelf, for religious leadership in uncertain times is not about a quick fix.
  • When Conflict and Hope Abound
    Vestry Papers
    Conflict and controversy are intrinsic to the church, even if many of us would prefer to live and worship in communities that never disagreed about anything.
  • Bringing Wounds and Blessings
    Vestry Papers
    Conflict can be difficult, especially in the church.
  • Skeletons in the Sacristy
    Vestry Papers
    Skeletons in the sacristy? We have one — figuratively, at least — in our church.
  • Thanks, Netflix: A Lesson in Communication and Change
    Vital Posts
    We should send a thank you letter to Netflix.  After all, the company is providing a great example of what happens when there’s no communication plan. To catch you up: Basically Netflix, a mail-order DVD rental company, made huge change…
  • Shooting Stars
    Vital Posts
    Every diocesan office, every church staff has some superstars. They are creative thinkers – and doers – with boundless optimism and energy. Their job is a ministry, a calling, and they pour both their ability and heart into the work. And it…
  • Handling Blowback: When Social Media Gets Mean
    Vital Posts
    So you've posted a link to your sermon on Facebook and now the comments section reads like the bathroom graffiti in a college bar. What do you do? First, relax. This kind of blowback has been going on since Luther posted his 95 Theses on the doors …
  • Blowing off Steam
    Vital Posts
    The air conditioner repair guys were lazy. They took the shortest distance to install the exhaust pipes – straight from the basement to the outside wall, right beside the entrance.  Don’t be alarmed: this is being fixed. Today. The…
  • Making Room
    Vital Posts
    Why are we so uncomfortable with people who disagree with us? How and when do we learn to ‘shut out’ voices whose opinions are different than our own? And, why are we so sure that we are ‘right?’ These questions are on my mind as I’ve…
  • 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.…
  • Mass: A Conversation
    Vital Posts
    The parishioner just couldn’t accept the word “mass.” In a long, terse letter to the rector, he decried the use of the term Mass. It’s a worship service, he said. We’re not Roman Catholic. We shouldn’t be using their terminology. "S…
  • Listening Across Difference
    Vital Posts
    I’m always surprised. I’m referring to the discussion that takes place at my monthly book club meeting. Each month our group of 12 selects and reads a book, then meets to discuss it. And, each time, I am surprised both by the different ways…
  • Kindness of FB friends
    Vital Posts
    Blanche DuBois relied on the kindness of strangers, but I am thankful for the kindness of Facebook. Already this morning, dozens of people from across every stage of my life have taken a moment to wish happy birthday on Facebook. On the surfa…
  • 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…
  • Tone Matters
    Vestry Papers
    In “Tone Matters,” Scott Gunn looks at how poor communications can cause hurt feelings and offers steps you can take to minimize misunderstandings and create an environment of truthfulness and love.
  • Certain or Stuck?
    Vital Posts
    Most mornings when I wake up, my husband brings me a cup of coffee. When I’m at a hotel by myself, I make the coffee right after waking up. My first morning in Memphis, I was mildly annoyed when I noticed the pot was missing from the coffee m…
  • Knee-deep: The tough work of being church
    Vital Posts
    The 10-ton truck was no match for a long-forgotten septic tank. The delivery of gravel for the driveway was on course until the truck reached the last section. The weight bore down and crushed the old metal lid. The tire sank into the hole, an…
  • Divvying Up the Loot
    Vital Posts
    Having recently finished reading Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, and currently reading A Tale of Two Cities, I’m thinking a lot about the divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots;’ a divide that has existed for centuries…
  • Mommy's a Good Multi-tasker
    Vital Posts
    We were running late to church. I applied the eye shadow at one stop light, mascara at the next. Now to find the lipstick. I rummaged through my purse with one hand. My 9-year-old started scolding. Mommy, stop. Keep both hands on the whe…
  • February Update: New Vestry Papers Content
    Vital Posts
    As promised, ECF Vital Practices continues to add to its January/February Vestry Papers themed content with two new articles: Covenants in Congregational Life In his role as the Episcopal Church’s Missioner for Church Planting, Ministry …
  • Triangulation: vestries be mindful
    Vestry Papers
    In human interactive terms, a triangle occurs when each of two opposing parties seeks to join with a third party against the other, with the third party finding it necessary to cooperate now with one and now with another of these opposing parties.
  • Renewing Our Baptismal Covenant
    Vital Posts
    In the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a campaign event in Arizona, two Facebook postings caught my attention. The first, John Donne’s familiar poem, a favorite since college: "No man is an island, entire of itself; …
  • Emmanuel
    Vital Posts
    I want to write about losing inches from my waist and straightening all of my closets – or at least my sincere plans to do so sometime in 2011. But I’ve just returned from the funeral of a priest who committed suicide four days after Christ…
  • Crisis of Church
    Vital Posts
    I am having a crisis of Church. No, not a crisis of faith. My faith is strong and for that I am thankful. However, I am taking some time off from church. Not my parish, not the Episcopal Church, but THE Church. You see, I believe The Church is i…
  • Behaving Badly (and Publicly)
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes people behave badly - and the media (willing participant or not) gives them a platform to advertise the bad behavior. In a recent situation, a former parishioner and church employee was interviewed by a local newspaper. She misled the…
  • Conventional Wisdom and Gene Robinson's Retirement
    Vital Posts
    Last week in my blog I held up our General Convention as an object lesson in applying human reason as a theological authority. With the announcement of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson’s retirement I am remembering the most meaningful example of this I…
  • 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…
  • Church and State
    Vital Posts
    The separation of church and state is a key cornerstone of the U.S. government. At the same time, everyone at my noonday meeting on Tuesday had cast their vote in a local church. This juxtaposition struck me today as we move from one of the most…
  • 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…
  • A warden’s guide: Surviving the process
    Vestry Papers
    Think of this time as the longest Advent season you have ever experienced.
  • Caring for Clergy and Congregations
    Webinars
    The Network of Episcopal Clergy Associations (NECA) has partnered with ECF to offer a panel presentation on the difficult topic of clergy calls that end badly, not in celebration but in heartache. Panelists include: Bonnie Anderson, Dennis Fontinos, …
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