• Honor worshipers as the pilgrims they are this Christmas Eve ✓
    Vital Posts
    Episcopalians love processions. There’s something about the grandeur, of course, especially if such a procession includes all kinds of liturgical accoutrements, but even in a more humble parish church, such as the one in which I serve, a liturgic…
  • Models for Vestry Leadership of Faith Formation ✓
    Webinars
    So your vestry has a handle on the financials. But how are you doing as leaders and stewards of your church's faith formation ministries? In this webinar the Center for the Ministry of Teaching posits four "developmental stages" of vestry leadership …
  • On Christmas Pageants...and Chaos
    Vital Posts
    There’s no stink in most Christmas pageants. There’s none of the droppings from the sheep and cattle that were lowing, as we romanticize in song. If you’ve been in a barn lately, you know that they’re stinky, dirty, cobwebby places. Even …
  • A Missional Take on Ashes to Go
    Vital Posts
    Ash Wednesday is coming. For at least one day out of the year, we’re going to be reminded that we are dust, and that we’re going to die some day. Fun times! Over the past several years, this solemn fast day has been infused with a missional…
  • What a Ballpoint Pen is Teaching Me About the Future of the Church
    Vital Posts
    I’m a simple man, really. I like gadgets and such, but when it comes down to it I do most of my thinking with a paper journal and a ballpoint pen. So when I ran out of pens the other day, I walked into the store to buy my favorite brand.  Th…
  • Liturgy for Conclusion of Vestry Service
    Tools
    A short decommissioning service for retiring vestry members.
  • To Be
    Vital Posts
    My church didn’t have the usual children’s Christmas pageant this year, but we certainly did rejoice in evidence of God with us. The third Sunday of Advent included 5 Baptisms and 11 Confirmations, Receptions, or Reaffirmations! It was a bitter…
  • Work with Faithfulness & Devotion: In Praise of the Altar Guild
    Vital Posts
    This is a busy time of year both inside and outside the church. Someone said to me last week, “You must be so terribly busy,” and she was very kindly implying that there’s probably a great deal of work behind organizing our congregation’s a…
  • Strangers to Neighbors
    Vestry Papers
    The tradition of Las Posadas involves leaving the church walls, and going into the neighborhood for a time of shared tradition and hospitality.
  • Invitation to a Holy Advent
    Vital Posts
    As sure as Santa Claus directed the crowds into Macy’s at the end of the Thanksgiving Day parade, we can expect to be swept up into the rush of the “the holidays.”  On Ash Wednesday, we are invited, “to the observance of a holy Lent, by …
  • Wonderful Worship
    Vital Posts
    Who doesn’t like a good worship service? Fortunately our Episcopal liturgy allows us the flexibility to be very creative in our worship expression. While our clergy has the primary role in designing and delivering these worship experiences, the…
  • Reclaiming Morning Prayer
    Vital Posts
    The message heard loud and clear at our monthly UBE (Union of Black Episcopalians) meetings at different congregations throughout the Diocese of New Jersey was how difficult it was to fill all Sunday services with a clergy person. The reasons were …
  • The Bread of Life
    Vital Posts
    This Easter Day, once again, I explained the change to the congregation. “We’re using real bread today, and we’ll do so throughout this fifty-day-long season. For those of you more accustomed to wafers, you’ll see what we mean in this place…
  • Improv Worship
    Vital Posts
    Here’s what Sunday reality looks like on the ground where I am: increasingly unpredictable. Our English services -- representing the legacy congregation of our historic parish -- are getting smaller by the year. There are fewer people in the …
  • Tech Savvy in the Heartland
    Vital Posts
    “We see God in you!” proclaim the people of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lebanon, a small city in rural central Indiana. This “people of prayer uniting in one Spirit” live the Gospel through many ministries rooted in heritage, such as …
  • Worship Committee?
    Vital Posts
    At St. George’s, we have a worship committee. Actually, it’s in our by-laws, so I suppose it’s a capital ‘W’ – Worship Committee. Perhaps that’s not so strange, considering all the various things we’ve turned into committees over th…
  • Singing Our Song
    Vital Posts
    Every Sunday at St. Mary’s, at all our services that include music, we sing the same song. I hear that the associate rector even makes the 7:30am service sing it on occasion, and they never sing. We picked it up in Hawaii a few years ago, at a me…
  • Holy Week Explained (Videos)
    Vital Posts
    Holy Week, the seven days preceding Easter, commemorates the suffering and death of Jesus, as recounted in Christian Scripture. Like all Anglican churches, Trinity Church Wall Street offers a variety of services that have long history and tradition…
  • Substance & Beauty: Finding the Balance
    Vital Posts
    In recent weeks I’ve been baking bread in my free time. I’ve tried out French bread and some wheat sandwich bread and rolls. These recipes are from Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and require a lot of time and patience …
  • Ash Wednesday & Lent in Two Minutes
    Vital Posts
    If asked, how do you explain Ash Wednesday and/or Lent to friends? Our friends at Busted Halo are again sharing their video Ash Wednesday & Lent in Two Minutes. 
  • Grow Christians: Practicing Faith at Home
    Vital Posts
    I haven’t been intentional about bringing my kids to Ash Wednesday services. To be honest, I couldn’t fathom the idea of the priest—their father and my husband—crossing ashes on their forehead and saying, “Remember you are dust and to dus…
  • Phone Church
    Vital Posts
    Two weeks ago, in advance of winter storm Jonas, the forecasters in the mid-Atlantic began their steady drumbeat of winter weather analysis mixed with heart-stopping projections.  Meteorologically, they knew something was going to happen but, w…
  • Acting Out
    Vital Posts
    On the second Sunday of Christmas, the entourage of wise men were onewindow closer to the crèche at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Their journey started a couple of weeks earlier, on the window sill at the back of the sanct…
  • Christmas: Sharing the Good News with a Video
    Tools
    Want a 1 minute video sharing the message of Christmas that you can personalize for your church to add service times? A gift from your friends at the Acts 8 Movement.
  • The Case for Advent
    Vital Posts
    It’s Advent, we know. Some people found this out when they walked into a church bedecked in purple or blue on Sunday morning. The church, at least a lot of communities in the Episcopal Church, does a pretty good job of keeping the focus on Advent…
  • Advent Wreath Making and Prayers
    Your Turn
    Originally developed for children and their families, these Advent prayers and reflections were soon shared throughout the congregation.
  • Celebrating the Harvest: With Gratitude and Thanksgiving
    Vital Posts
    It’s harvest season here in the Pacific Northwest, a season to celebrate the abundance and generosity of God. The abundance from garden is always a little overwhelming at this season, inspiring creativity and generosity in order to cope. I love e…
  • Skipping Out on Holy Days
    Vital Posts
    Why celebrate the major holy days of the church? The Feast of All Saints is coming up on Sunday, Nov. 1, and many of us will mark the day with special prayers during worship. And of course, we’re in church for the Nativity of Our Lord on Chri…
  • Milestone Celebrations
    Vital Posts
    When the timpani rumbled with the first chords of the opening hymn, it was obvious this would be an extraordinary worship experience. The sweeping harp, the proclaiming brass, the richness of the strings, caught up the congregation in the powerful wo…
  • Keep on Singing
    Vital Posts
    How can I keep from singing? Singing is my very favorite part of church. I’m sure that my favorite is actually supposed to be Eucharist, and I do like that too...but I love to sing. I’m not a great singer. I have a decent voice, and can hol…
  • Tradition versus Traditionalism, Fresh Expressions for Real
    Vital Posts
    “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.” ― Jaroslav Pelikan, "The Vindication of Tradition: The …
  • Getting to Know the Daily Office
    Vital Posts
    The beautiful worship of the Episcopal Church can be a bit daunting for newcomers, especially those coming from nonliturgical traditions. But oh, once you get the hang of it, warmed by the inspiration, peace and teaching of our common prayers and c…
  • Screens In Worship
    Vital Posts
    When I wrote a post about the old battle between using service bulletins or The Book of Common Prayer, I knew I’d get feedback, pushback, and a whole lot of unabashed opinions. My predictions were spot on, but the responses I got were also toned …
  • Liturgy: Something Other Than Work
    Vital Posts
    The day’s events had me going from an early morning meeting, then answering several emails about an ongoing project, to a hospital call in the city, to, at last, an Evensong at the Virginia Seminary to kick-off their new Center for Liturgy & Musi…
  • Earth Day Resources
    Tools
    Earth Day resources for congregations focusing on liturgy, green congregations and climate change, and church gardens.
  • Working Theology(ies) Of Baptism
    Vital Posts
    This is really a book-length issue about which I’m only going to write a few hundred words. Underneath all of this is a library-full of information, plus an entire life’s journey and discernment. I’m thinking about baptism. It’s Easter, aft…
  • Share And Share Alike
    Vital Posts
    We were standing and talking in the entryway of his church as the afternoon light on this early spring day flooded the well-designed and beautiful, inviting space. His is a large church, a new church building and a congregation that just keeps grow…
  • Ingredients for Joyful, Inclusive Bilingual Liturgy
    Vital Posts
      Bilingual liturgy can be difficult, especially in our word-driven Anglican tradition. It’s worth doing when there is a clear community-building purpose behind it. Articulate that purpose. Don’t expect everyone to like it. Introducing…
  • Really, Prayers Of The People
    Vital Posts
    It happens just often enough to remind me of the power of prayer, that moment when in the course of a Sunday liturgy someone or even a few people give voice to real, heartfelt, genuine prayer. Just the other week, in fact, the husband of a woman wh…
  • Wait for the Lord
    Vital Posts
    Wait for the Lord. Patiently wait. Wait for the Lord. It’s the congregational response for the sung psalm we are using in my parish for the season of Advent. How do we wait in times like these? In an Advent where #blacklivesmatter and #…
  • What Am I Thankful For?
    Vital Posts
    A few weeks ago Sarah Weedon, a senior from the School of Theology at Sewanee and the seminarian assigned to Southside Abbey, preached at our Friday evening worship. By way of reminder, I will share a little of how our preaching works in our c…
  • Using the Internet to Help People Pray
    Vital Posts
    Our phones, we love them and we hate them. Can we pray with them? I work for the Brothers of the Society of Saint the Evangelist who in their Rule of Life talk about being “Men of the moment, up to the mark of the day.” This Advent the Brot…
  • Advent Devotional Calendar 2014
    Your Turn
    Thomas Mousin and Merry Watters share their 2014 Advent Devotional Calendar is here!.
  • Decoding Dinner Church
    Vital Posts
    I'd like to start this post with a joke. Q: How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb? A: Change!?! Why should we change? We like the old light bulb. The Edison family donated it in 1886. See the wall plaque beneath the o…
  • Sunday Morning Funeral
    Vital Posts
    "A funeral can be a profound expression of what we believe and what we hope. It can form or reinforce that hope where it may have grown thin. Not only does the Sunday morning context strengthen the experience of the funeral, then, but the funeral c…
  • Poetry and Prayer
    Vital Posts
    Every Sunday at St. Lydia’s we read a poem after prayers. I know, reading poetry at dinner church in Brooklyn sounds a little like your stereotypical hipster church, but I find that it is an authentic expression of our community. For example,…
  • Bulletin vs. Prayer Book
    Vital Posts
    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 Papers as well as the monthly Vital Practices Digest delivered to your inbox, all for fre…
  • Resources for Ascension Day and Pentecost
    Your Turn
    Each year it seems more congregations are looking for resources related to Ascension Day and Pentecost. Mustard Seed Associates of Seattle offers a variety of resources for congregations.
  • Pets: Resources from the Episcopal Network for Animal Welfare
    Tools
    September 2016 update: This page no longer exists. The Episcopal Network for Animal Welfare offers resources for animal advocates.
  • What is to Prevent Me from Being Baptized?
    Vital Posts
    Nota: Este artículo está disponible en inglés y español. Haga clic aquí para ver la versión en español de este artículo. The question posed by the Ethiopian Eunuch is phrased perfectly. What is to prevent him from being baptized? He h…
  • Speaking Frankly
    Vital Posts
    I need a frank case. I told my husband and fully expected him to offer assistance. Instead, he asked, bewildered: “What’s a frank case?” I explained that it’s a small bag in which you pack shampoo, toothpaste, and medicine. He i…
  • Holy Week Remixed
    Vital Posts
    For my entire life I have waved palm branches on Palm Sunday, washed other people’s feet on Maundy Thursday, attended services at noon on Good Friday, and spent Saturday night at the Easter Vigil. These liturgies are familiar to me and an important…
  • You Can Do It!
    Vital Posts
    Did everyone have a fun-and-pancake-filled Shrove Tuesday? Southside Abbey participated in the Shrove Tuesday events of a couple of Lutheran churches in our area. We came to a traditional church building to have a traditional pancake supper. That's…
  • Lenten Resources
    Tools
    Trying to remember where you saw that Lenten resource? ECF Vital Practices maintains a curated list of resources created by various faith organizations.
  • Snow Day?
    Vital Posts
    As the list of closures started scrolling across the bottom of the TV, I waited for the commentary from the couch. It didn’t take long. “I can’t believe all of these churches cancelling services!” To frame the discussion a bit, …
  • Many Ways to Do Church
    Vital Posts
    Yesterday I went to church three times for a story I am working on for work. At one service I joined others gathered in St. Paul’s, an Episcopal church that is almost three hundred years old, and prayed traditional Episcopal prayers. We also did …
  • Old Stories, New Light
    Vital Posts
    Each year since I was five or six I would attend the Christmas Eve midnight mass at the Episcopal Church where my dad was rector. Afterward we would open one present (almost always pajamas) before going to bed and, filled with anticipation of the…
  • Thoughts on Sundays #1: A Gift from God
    Vital Posts
    The Reverend Bob Castle entered into the nearer presence of God just over a year ago, at the age of 83. He was at my side as my rector when I was confirmed as an Episcopalian, and many aspects of his life continue to inspire my priesthood. Bob …
  • Advent Resources
    Tools
    Links to free Advent resources, calendars and devotions, reflections; St. Nicholas Day; and preparing for Christmas visitors at your church.
  • Remembrance
    Vital Posts
    Ninety-four years later, we still remember.  On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I officially ended. The tradition of Remembrance Day on November 11 began in England and has spread across the globe as a time to…
  • Advent Devotional Calendar 2013
    Your Turn
    A reproducible calendar with scripture readings and suggested devotions for each day of Advent.
  • Liturgy as Essay
    Vital Posts
    I recently read a speech by playwright Tony Kushner given to other writers, about how and why people write. One of the things he said was this: “We write to negotiate our own relationships with momentariness and permanence, to speak with the dead…
  • An Authentically Anglican Halloween
    Your Turn
    How does celebrating the Day of the Dead fit our Episcopal faith?
  • On the Street with Big Jesus
    Vital Posts
    Nota - Este artículo es disponible en español aquí.  Big Jesus is properly known as El Divino Salvador del Mundo -- the transfigured Christ, patron of the people of El Salvador. Calling him Big Jesus might border on sacrilege, but I just ca…
  • Funeral Planning Form
    Your Turn
    Helps an individual or family plan a funeral in the Episcopal tradition.
  • 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…
  • Retreat. And Advance.
    Vital Posts
    I like the multiple meanings of the word retreat. It is, of course, both noun and verb, a backing away, to withdraw. For our church this weekend, retreat is a time for fellowship, star-gazing, worship, and good food. It is a backing away, as we…
  • Create A Video That Inspires Like “The Celtic Service”
    Vital Posts
    Do you have an inspirational story or program that you would like to share with your community? Sarah Bartenstein, Director of Communications, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA gave me the story behind their most recent video, whi…
  • Celebrating Pentecost
    Vital Posts
    What if the Church threw a party and nobody came? Pentecost, one of the church’s great feast days, is on Sunday. It recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and other early followers of Jesus. My childhood church didn’…
  • Experiments with Compline
    Vital Posts
    Last week I was in Seattle, and on Sunday night I went to Compline at St. Mark’s Cathedral. They’ve been doing this for decades and the average attendance is 500. While the choir sang and spoke the Compline service, men and women of all ages sa…
  • Walking the Stations with my Seven Year Old Son
    Vital Posts
    I’m the pastor of a medium-size congregation in Madison, Wisconsin, St. Dunstan’s Church. On Thursday evenings in Lent, we’ve been walking the Stations of the Cross at 6:00 pm, before our potluck supper and Lenten program. It's always a small…
  • Resources for Lent - 2013
    Tools
    Here’s a collection of resources related to Lent. As we discover new resources, we’ll add links; if you have a link to share, please share it via a comment (below) or add it to our Your Turn page.
  • What ARE you saying?
    Vital Posts
    Often, the message we send is not the same as the message received. I was reminded of this recently when I came across this statement in a church bulletin: “[Name of church] is an Accessible [sic] Church. For assistance, please ring the doorb…
  • Pluck
    Vital Posts
    I’m not sure the Bible mentions the word pluck (other than a few pesky references to removing one’s eye), but Jesus is clear time and again that his followers should exhibit the values imbued in the word. Trusty Webster defines pluck as a…
  • Speaking the Call Out Loud
    Vital Posts
    On Sunday we celebrated St. Lydia’s. This is the church I attend, which combines liturgy and a meal. The gathered community blessed the ministry of St. Lydia’s, then installed our newly ordained pastor, and blessed the ministries of the new leade…
  • Editor's Letter: December 2012
    Vital Posts
    It’s Advent, the season of anticipation, preparation, and waiting. A time when Christians around the world get ready to welcome Jesus - as both the babe and the risen Christ - into not only our hearts but into our lives. At ECF Vital Practice…
  • 2012 Advent Calendar
    Your Turn
    This devotional calendar follows the liturgical season, beginning of the First Sunday of Advent and concluding on Christmas Eve. Each day features a scripture reading and suggested devotion.
  • Editor's Letter: November 2012
    Vital Posts
    Liturgy, Music, and Leadership When recent converts are asked why they chose to join an Episcopal Church, many share they were drawn by the beauty of the liturgy. As Episcopalians we gather regularly to participate in liturgies that back to the…
  • The Bible Challenge
    Vestry Papers
    Studies reveal that the number one factor by far in church growth and spiritual development is regular engagement with Scripture. This, however, has not been a strong suit for most Episcopalians.
  • Las Posadas: Hospitality & Evangelism
    Vestry Papers
    In Los Angeles, at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul, the sure sign that Christmas is nearing is the faithful observance of Las Posadas, a traditional evening procession and celebration with 400 years of history and a fresh approach for hospitality an…
  • Finding Our Voices
    Vestry Papers
    What does your voice sound like to you? To others? How well do you listen? How well do you hear? How do you nurture your voice to be of greatest benefit to the community? Are you able to ask for what you need, and offer what you have to deepen your s…
  • Follow Me
    Vestry Papers
    In 1987, my teenage daughter was attending a Catholic girls school in San Francisco, and she and her schoolmates were recruited to serve as ushers for Pope John Paul II’s Mass at Candlestick Park, the baseball stadium where the Beatles sang their l…
  • Late for the Party
    Vital Posts
    I enjoy church crashing. Or, to put it differently, I enjoy visiting different churches for Sunday morning worship. I love to worship through the unique lens a community has developed to seek and know God, to find out what mission and ministry …
  • R U a Rule Keeper or Breaker?
    Vital Posts
    I have friends who are quite passionate about grammar. I was reminded of this last week, when I was copyediting an essay and, in a moment of frustration, I posted something about the emdash on Facebook. I received an immediate response from a flurry …
  • Michaelmas
    Vital Posts
    Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name…  [The Book of Common Prayer, pg.362] It never gets old, does it? I …
  • Witnesses and Participants
    Vital Posts
    I went to a wedding this weekend at a small Episcopal Church in Rhode Island. It was a simple and short and lovely service. I wondered a bit today about the people participating in the ceremony who were not Episcopalian or Christian (including the …
  • 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…
  • Liturgies for Marriage and Blessing of Lifelong Covenants
    Tools
    PDF versions of "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage" and "The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage" as approved at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
  • [Not Always] Open Table
    Vital Posts
    (Overheard online ...) "Because they were rude to me and treated me like a semiconscious beast they'd shot down from a tree with a tranquilizer after I told them I was hearing impaired, I told them I wouldn't be coming back." Sounds like an exp…
  • Feeding the Five Thousand
    Vital Posts
    Every summer of Year B in our lectionary cycle we take five weeks to read one chapter of one book. The sixth chapter of the Gospel of John covers the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand and the debate it inspired. It is the primary teaching o…
  • Orienting our Lives
    Vital Posts
    Messing with tradition is dicey. For most of the 110 people on this weekend’s parish retreat, every place on the mountain is sacred. The diocesan conference center in the heart of Kentucky, at the top of a mountain, is a thin place, where t…
  • Telling Stories
    Vital Posts
    Don’t you get bored saying the same things over and over? My parents asked me that after they attended their first Episcopal worship service. When I was a child, we attended a United Methodist church with a fantastic youth group and tradition…
  • Baptism in Community
    Vital Posts
    The Quakers have a wonderful marriage tradition that my husband and I borrowed for our wedding nearly 15 years ago. States require the signatures of a couple of witnesses on the official marriage certificate. But in the Quaker tradition, ever…
  • A Perfect Time to be Unapologetically Episcopalian!
    Vital Posts
    Yesterday, The Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops to adopt a resolution which authorizes provisional use of the rite “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” starting Dec. 2 (the first Sunday …
  • Don't Be Boring
    Vital Posts
    St. Lydia’s, the church I attend in Brooklyn, is both experimenting and following in a long tradition. As I’ve written about here before, we combine liturgy and a meal. The practice is a very old one, but you won’t find many churches doing th…
  • Examples of Commissioning Services
    Your Turn
    Ken Garner, Director of Communications and Stewardship of Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr, PA, shares examples of their commissioning services.
  • What's Working at St. Mark's, Chenango Bridge, NY
    Your Turn
    Andy Pierce serves as the "web guy" for St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Chenango Bridge, New York. Here he shares a short list of what's working for them!
  • Outside Our Walls
    Vital Posts
    Yesterday's blog post, "Pulling the Plug," shared the experience of a congregation that made the decision to stop doing things that aren't working. Easy to say, harder to do, especially when you have an expectation of what church is 'supposed' to l…
  • Trinity Sunday
    Vital Posts
    This Sunday is the Trinity Sunday, one of the seven principle feast days of the year and the only one that addresses squarely what we believe as Christians. The tradition of the Sunday following Pentecost marking the Holy Trinity began when Thomas …
  • Creating a Blessing
    Vital Posts
    In 2009, General Convention passed a resolution to create resources for same-gender blessings. These resources are an attempt to create tools, including theological and liturgical resources, for those same-gender couples that feel called to form a …
  • Re-enter Dancing
    Vital Posts
    I somehow think that other rectors did not spend their last days of sabbatical crawling clubs in Chicago or dancing in front of the stage at Buddy Guy’s. But that is how my time away ended and I loved every minute of it. As I spend my first d…
  • 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…
  • Love in the Midst of Suffering
    Vital Posts
    I had a blog post almost ready to post before I went to church on Sunday evening. Perhaps that’s what a sacrament should do: engage and disrupt. At St. Lydia’s on Sunday evenings we prepare a meal together and participate in a simple and ancien…
  • Public Liturgy
    Vital Posts
    I spent Holy Week in the Diocese of Chicago trailing my good friend Dent Davidson, Missioner for Arts and Liturgy. Most of the week we participated with the people of All Saints, Chicago, in the unfolding mysteries of the walk to the cross and the …
  • Flowering the Cross
    Vital Posts
    One of the delights in being new is experiencing a church’s long-held tradition for the first time. On Easter Sunday, a day full of tradition and pomp, I was moved by our new church’s custom of “flowering the cross.” As the hand…
  • “Love One Another”
    Vital Posts
    Taking off your socks in a strange place is never particularly comfortable. What if the floor isn’t clean? What if your feet smell? We’d rather sit in our pews and stick to the rituals we know. Still, on Maundy Thursday Episcopalians around the…
  • Ritual and Creativity
    Vital Posts
  • The Fifth [Meatless] Friday of Lent
    Vital Posts
    Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others. Amen.  -The Blessing of a Marriage, the Book of Common Prayer I grew up thinking only nuns could be married to God. Now I think t…
  • Taize
    Vital Posts
    I have just completed a one-week retreat at the Taize monastery in south east France. I leave here rested, centered, and hopeful. My church hosts a Taize service each Sunday evening at 6 pm and as part of my sabbatical travels I wanted to come …
  • Creating and Communicating Silence
    Vital Posts
    I have a good friend who occasionally likes to stare at me silently, just to see what I’ll say. The silence makes me slightly uncomfortable, so I’ll say something and then I’ll keep speaking, trying to talk through whatever is causing her to gi…
  • Answering God's Call
    Vestry Papers
    When a congregation makes a paradigm shift from an attractional model of ministry to a missional model, how will the shift influence its understanding and practice of worship?
  • The (Meatless) Fridays of Lent
    Your Turn
    Marvelous meatless meals for your Fridays this Lenten season.
  • Leaving Uganda
    Vital Posts
    My sabbatical experience is planned to divide neatly into three separate experience bases – Africa, Europe, and Chicago. Leaving Uganda, I have now completed the first half of the first leg and if each experience is as rich as this one has been t…
  • Walking Away for a While
    Vital Posts
    Today I walked out of my office and won’t return until May 1. I am leaving on my first sabbatical in 31 years of priesthood. It will be an opportunity to travel to Africa and Europe and to spend a month in Chicago all pursuing music as an importa…
  • Offering Hope and Healing: Stephen Ministry
    Vital Posts
    On November 19, 2011 a service of Hope and Healing was held at The Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas Texas. This holiday prayer service provided a place of meaning and comfort for those experiencing the loss of a loved one. The parish’s Ste…
  • St. Nicholas Day Resources
    Vital Posts
    Editor's Note: Today's guest blogger Jim Rosenthal, who frequently represents St. Nicholas as part of his ministry with the St. Nicholas Society, shares resources related to this well known saint. The origin of the Saint Nicholas tradition: fro…
  • 2011 Advent Devotional Calendar
    Your Turn
    An Advent devotional calendar with scripture lessons and suggested devotions for the days of Advent.
  • A New Normal 2: Communion
    Vital Posts
    For me, church was always done a certain way: Until I began going to a new church. For the first 40+ years of my life, taking communion meant walking to the front of the church – when prompted by the usher – and kneeling at the altar rail. …
  • Postcard from Memphis
    Vital Posts
    I’ve been traveling this past week. From New York to Memphis to San Antonio, I am visiting friends and family after a lengthy time away. In the process, however, I’ve also had the opportunity to check out a few innovative ministries taking plac…
  • How Wired Do You Want to Be?
    Vital Posts
    I’ve discovered a great new blog from the Diocese of Olympia: Putting the “I-T” in Spirit. Written by Kerry Allman, internet strategist at Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, this blog serves as a resource and as a forum for people using web and so…
  • Ecstasy
    Vital Posts
    I have taken the exact same vacation for the past 17 years. I return to Ohio for the Community Festival (Comfest), and then my wife, El, joins me and a bunch of friends at a cabin in Ohio’s Hocking Hills. Then we head to Pelee Island in Lake Eri…
  • Outdoor Church
    Vital Posts
    When the weather's nice, do you move worship outside? Sunday morning in Marblehead: Slept late, breakfasted on oatmeal raisin bread purchased at the Farmers’ Market, then headed to the Fort at the mouth of the harbor to watch the boats ready …
  • America!?
    Vital Posts
    How many of you will sing Hymn 719 this coming weekend? Or something else from the back of Hymnal 1982? Will anyone be doing a number from the final pages of Lift Every Voice and Sing II? Yesterday as I finalized my plans for the 4th of July ho…
  • Ashes to Go: Tips for Liturgical Outreach
    Your Turn
    If God's people aren't in the church on Ash Wednesday, what about taking the church to the people? Tips for an exciting Ash Wednesday outreach ministry, and other liturgical outreach opportunities.
  • Space invaders
    Vital Posts
    The air conditioner died, not with a bang but a whimper. Because of problems getting the parts, it would be a month before the company could install a new unit. With early June temperatures in the 90s – and the priest already prone to sweat…
  • 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…
  • Transforming Churches: Growth to Sustainability
    Vestry Papers
    “St. Paul & the Redeemer is growing because we are really clear about what we are about and that is welcoming everybody to this community: orthodox believer or skeptic, gay or straight, black or white, rich or poor, everyone is welcome to eat at Go…
  • Diocesan Ministry Fairs
    Vital Posts
    Worship in the Diocese of Chicago last Saturday was fantastic. Why worship on Saturday? The opening of the annual diocesan Leadership and Ministry Fair. Bishop Jeffrey Lee, Vicki Garvey (canon for Christian Formation), and Dent Davidson (Missio…
  • Sing a New Song
    Vital Posts
    I just got back from the post office where I sent off my grant application to the Lilly Foundation for my first sabbatical in 30 years of ministry. Whether we get the funding or not, we are pushing ahead with a shared renewal experience for me and …
  • What was THAT All About?
    Vital Posts
    The rector who was my first supervisor as a young priest used to tell the story of a fellow rector who checked in to a mental hospital for Easter Week nearly every year. I, myself, share openly that when Jesus emerges from the tomb on Easter mornin…
  • Tenebrae
    Vital Posts
    I’m looking forward to going to church tonight. For the second time, I’ll be joining my friend Barb at the Tenebrae service at Old North (United Church of Christ). Last year, I had no idea what a Tenebrae service was. It’s part of Holy Wee…
  • Who's Blooming?
    Vital Posts
    How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its being – otherwise, we all remain too frightened. (Hafiz) This beautiful phrase anchors tonight’s meditation during Ve…
  • Holy Weak
    Vital Posts
    I have always joked that when Jesus comes out of the tomb on Easter I crawl in. This run between now and Easter Monday is a marathon of liturgical gymnastics that will leave all competent clergy absolutely spent. Here is what we are doing at St.…
  • Morning Prayer Solitaire
    Vital Posts
    As part of our Lenten series on spirituality and social justice, Will, a new parishioner, taught one class on the use of daily Morning Prayer. He came to us from the Roman Catholic Church and has absolutely fallen maddeningly in love with the Book …
  • The Music Scene
    Vital Posts
    What will the future Episcopal Church sound like?  Two noteworthy events have taken place in the past few weeks regarding music in the Episcopal Church. First, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) has extended the deadlin…
  • Episode II, Undercover Rector: LOL
    Vital Posts
    I saw a post on Facebook the other day about a friend’s father who had taken a turn for the worse. Another friend posted, “Prayers heading your way. LOL.” Wait a minute. I thought LOL meant laughing out loud. I’m guessing (hoping) thi…
  • Greening Our Faith – Putting Belief into Action
    Vestry Papers
    More and more people believe that protecting Creation is a religious value.
  • Blessing (and welcoming) the bikes
    Vital Posts
    What would you do if a bunch of bicyclists rolled their wheels up to the front of your sanctuary? Would you bless them? For the past 13 years, St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City has welcomed bicyclists for an annual Bless…
  • We Gather Together: Conversations on Same-Gender Blessings 2
    Vital Posts
    This is the second of two blogs I am sharing from Katrina Hamilton who represented the Diocese of Olympia at the church-wide consultation on Same-Sex Blessings in Atlanta. Katrina is the 25-year-old head of our deputation to next year’s General C…
  • We Gather Together: Conversations on Same-Gender Blessings
    Vital Posts
  • Celebration of Life Collect
    Your Turn
    The Celebration of Life is a liturgical celebration in use at Bluestone Farm and Living Arts Center. It was developed by the Sisters of the Community of the Holy Spirit.
  • Super Bowl Sunday
    Vital Posts
    It’s not in the lectionary or listed in Holy Women, Holy Men but Super Bowl Sunday is certainly high among the cultural holidays celebrated in this country. I have a certain amnesia about the game itself. I watch it every year and for the life of…
  • Commissioning of New Members
    Vestry Papers
    "Our purpose is to commission these persons in the Name of God and of this congregation into membership in Iona-Hope."
  • A Sunday Morning Welcome
    Vestry Papers
    One step which is often overlooked in our various incorporation processes is that of having a meaningful welcoming ceremony for our new members.
  • A New Program Goes Old-School
    Vital Posts
    My church is going old-school with a new visitation program. Like many Episcopal congregations, we have a growing number of elderly people and shut-ins who can no longer attend worship services. These are folks who have been faithful members …
  • A Mega-Church Plant
    Vital Posts
    Traffic started about a mile from the entrance of the church.    Police and volunteers guided vehicles through the parking lot maze. At every door, greeters with genuine smiles welcomed us. They held eye contact and sometimes put a reassuring h…
  • Chalk marks the Way
    Vital Posts
    A good friend of mine once gave me an Epiphany gift – a beautiful box with the spices of frankincense and myrrh. Because we’re such good friends, I joked, “Where’s the gold?” Because she’s such a good friend, she answered back, “T…
  • Closing the Planning Gap
    Vestry Papers
    As we begin a new year, perhaps you are trying to decide, once again, what resolutions might bring you health and peace. One goal might be to close the planning gap. Or, put another way, this may be the year to finally address end of life issues for …
  • Las Posadas
    Vital Posts
    Though I didn't realize it at the time, I grew up celebrating a Reader's Digest version of Las Posadas. In Mexico and Guatemala, Las Posadas celebrations involve an elaborate pilgrimage, complete with statues of Mary and Joseph, wherein townfolk we…
  • Journey: Daily Meditations for Advent 2010
    Your Turn
    Daily reflections and artwork from young adults (18-30) across the church to lead us together through this holy season.
  • A Thanksgiving Feast - The Religious Kind
    Vital Posts
    Episcopalians corner the market on Thanksgiving. Sure, everyone across the United States celebrates Thanksgiving in some way, from cranberries and turkey dinners to lazy afternoons watching football and parades to studious planning of Black F…
  • It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas . . .
    Vital Posts
    I remember the day I was flying home from the east coast on Halloween and as I was getting off the plane I heard on the muzak the first Christmas carol of the season. Living with a retailer (my wife runs the Cathedral Shop at St. Mark’s Cathed…
  • Who Presides When the Bishop Comes? We do.
    Vital Posts
    When Bishop Greg Rickel makes his first official visitation to St. Andrew’s this Sunday, he’ll join a priest, a deacon, and a lay presider at the altar for a celebration of the Eucharist that stretches the rubrics but models the theology of our…
  • 2010 Advent Devotional Calendar
    Your Turn
    This calendar provides a scripture reading and suggested devotion for each day of Advent. Permission is granted to reproduce for personal and congregational use by the creators, Thomas Mousin and Merry Watters.
  • Sharing Liturgical Resources
    Vital Posts
    At the 2009 General Convention, resolution C056, "Liturgies for Blessings" directed the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention. The Rev. Dr. Ru…
Site by Bandwidth Productions