• 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. …
  • Fear Not! Good tidings about Capital Campaigns
    Webinars
    Undertaking a capital campaign can seem daunting, but it need not be. Join two of our consultants, Linda Buskirk and Nick Sollog, as they provide a step-by-step guide of the methodology that has led hundreds of Episcopal parishes to not only reach th…
  • Basics of a Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    A successful capital campaign raises more than money. It raises up new leadership, better communication, and a stronger spiritual community. This webinar will provide a step-by-step understanding of the methodology that has led hundreds of Episcopal …
  • August 2016 Editor’s Letter: Buildings & Grounds [& Mission]
    Vital Posts
      As our hearts continue to break with news of continued violence and division, our churches, like the 12 who served Jesus, find when they share all they have with their neighbors in need, there is more than enough. Here are their stories: …
  • Peace Garden
    Vestry Papers
    In 2012, neighbors believed the church was closed. It wasn’t. Four years later, there are visible signs of life at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Indianapolis. “Peace Garden” by David Paulsen, with an introduction by Nancy Davidge, tells the…
  • Parish Partnerships
    Vestry Papers
    Some congregations are staying close to home when it comes to mission trips. In “Parish Partnerships” Kimberly Durnan shares the transformation that took place when a church invited unchurched college students to join with parishioners in service…
  • 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.
  • Reconciliation House
    Vestry Papers
    For Janice Ford and Peter Kosciusko, their commitment to the full recovery and rehabilitation of men incarcerated in the local county jail was the catalyst for the transformation of the rectory at their Episcopal Church into a sober house, providing …
  • July 2016 Editor’s Letter: Buildings & Grounds [& Mission]
    Vital Posts
    Church. Hearing the word, my brain immediately ‘sees’ a building with a steeple. And, I recall the stories of leaking roofs, faulty boilers, and so on. Yet, when I began looking for stories of how congregations were managing their buildings…
  • Pasture to Partnerships
    Vestry Papers
    Some churches lean on their visioning statements to drive them toward community partnerships. In “Pasture to Partnerships” Susan Kleinwechter shares how a community partnership not only helped with maintenance of St. Martin-in-the-Fields’ 11.5-…
  • Yes, Together We Can
    Vestry Papers
    In “Yes, Together We Can,” Jesse Velásquez and Vidal Rivas encourage us to use all our resources (talent, time, and treasure) to reach spiritual and material growth, as seen in San Mateo Episcopal Church in Maryland where the Latino Community ha…
  • Church as Village Green
    Vestry Papers
    How might a church in a suburban neighborhood reclaim its [the church’s] historic role as a hub of community life? Sarah Bartenstein’s “Church as Village Green” shares the story of how a borrowed idea has taken root, resulting in a dynamic ye…
  • Mission Focused Buildings
    Vestry Papers
    In many ways, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Canandaigua, New York is not so different from other parishes. Their 143-year old roof leaks. Their website could use some work and they are trying to hone in on the perfect mission statement. None of th…
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Resources on Re-Thinking Buildings
    Vital Posts
    In the June Vital Practices Digest, we offer 5 resources for re-thinking the purpose and use of your church buildings, with the 5th a resource to help in developing year-round stewardship in your congregation. It’s easy and free to conne…
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Church Garden Resources
    Vital Posts
    In the April Vital Practices Digest, we offer 5 resources churches can use to start or continue to develop a thriving church garden ministry, with the 5th a resource to help develop year-round stewardship in your congregation. It’s eas…
  • Basics of a Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    A successful capital campaign raises more than money. It raises up new leadership, better communication, and a stronger spiritual community. This webinar will provide a step-by-step understanding of the methodology that has led hundreds of Episcopal …
  • 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.
  • 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…
  • Small Church, Big Impact
    Vestry Papers
    How does a congregation live into its sacred role as a healer?
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Resources for Caring for Creation
    Vital Posts
    Greening Our Faith In this month’s Vital Practices Digest, we highlight 5 ways for congregations to practice their commitment to caring for our earth home and all who inhabit it. Our 5th resource is a suggestion for congregations interested…
  • Earth Day Resources
    Tools
    Earth Day resources for congregations focusing on liturgy, green congregations and climate change, and church gardens.
  • Church with Garden and Food Pantry Seeks Same
    Vestry Papers
    “Church with Garden and Food Pantry Seeks Same” by Nathan Davis names a challenge many congregations have experienced: You’re about to begin something new and would really like to talk with others already engaged in that ministry, when you disc…
  • How Many Episcopalians Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?
    Vital Posts
    Over the past several years, we’ve been updating our parish hall at St. George’s, Valley Lee. We stripped some walls bare and fixed the masonry, where needed. We’ve insulated walls and above the ceiling. While we were tightening things up, ho…
  • The Other Way to Renovate
    Vital Posts
    Like every other church, St. George’s deals with deferred maintenance on our buildings and grounds. We try to keep up with as many projects as we can, but our forebears gave us a lot of stuff and, today, the funds and the personnel are limited. B…
  • 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
  • Relationship Building: Through Art
    Vital Posts
    The other day my church rented out our new space for an art show. An organization called Fiercely Curious took our space (which is very much an empty room at the moment) and made it into a gallery for a weekend.  Using church to display art is …
  • What if the Church IS the Building?
    Vital Posts
    How many times have you been told -- or told someone else, maybe with a slight tone of spiritual superiority -- that the church is not the building? I know, I know, it’s the people. I do know. But it is the building. Your neighbors se…
  • 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…
  • 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, …
  • 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…
  • 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…
  • Trading Spaces: Sunday School Edition
    Vital Posts
    Do as I say (and write), not as I do. I’m teaching Sunday School this fall for the first time at our new-ish church. Our kids are old enough to make their way to the classrooms so I hadn’t spent much time looking at the space.  Yesterday …
  • Are You Prepared?
    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…
  • Church Selfies
    Vital Posts
    If the Pope can take one, then so can we. A picture of the Pope in a selfie—a self-portrait taken by a cell phone (more on what a selfie is here)—has been making the rounds on social media. To be fair, the Pope wasn’t taking the picture h…
  • [Accepting] God’s Gift of Chaos
    Vestry Papers
    In “God’s Gift of Chaos,” Demi Prentiss shares how embracing the messiness of the unknown can help a congregation become unstuck from the things that prevent meaningful change from occurring.
  • Becoming Grace
    Vestry Papers
  • From the Ashes
    Vestry Papers
    The sense of powerlessness that sets in following a crisis can be paralyzing. At St. Luke and St. Matthew Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, the fire not only caused significant damage, having been ruled arson, it also threatened to engender fear. “Fro…
  • In Case of Disaster....
    Tools
    In the face of devastating loss, what are some of the key things a church community needs to do?
  • 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…
  • Disaster Prep: Before, During, & After
    Tools
    Every parish has the potential of a devastating disaster. Are you prepared? These resources may help.
  • Resilency
    Vestry Papers
    “Resiliency” by Bill Livingston helps congregations consider the potential impact of a devastating disaster, looking beyond the immediate physical needs and issues related to long term recovery, to the church’s unique role of offering a theolog…
  • Spring Cleaning
    Vital Posts
    How about some spring cleaning for your congregation? With Easter approaching, we again have the opportunity to welcome many more visitors through our church doors. Consider dusting off those corners, sprucing up your narthex, or tidying up the…
  • Being at the Edge
    Vestry Papers
    Burdened with their building, Lori Hale Babcock tells us in “Being at the Edge” how her congregation’s leadership courageously faced its challenges - and now thrives.
  • Making Sacred Space
    Vital Posts
    I spent a few hours cleaning my apartment this weekend. There’s something satisfying about caring for your own space, and something almost soul-feeding about the work, about moving a broom across the floor or doing dishes. As I’ve mentioned…
  • Why Our Buildings Just Don't Matter
    Vital Posts
    This past weekend I had the chance to visit a parish a lot like the one I currently serve. The property featured a beautiful and inspiring church with a cozy chapel; an enormous rectory, and several buildings that made up the parish house. You can …
  • Our Buildings: Precious Gems or Liabilities?
    Vital Posts
    Your local church is a major community asset! The more common headline is “local church buried in its deficit and had to close.” With church buildings from many denominations being closed, many congregations see their beloved buildings as l…
  • Magical Thinking
    Vital Posts
    Do you remember the TV show Bewitched?  Samantha, a witch played by Elizabeth Montgomery was married to a mere mortal Darrin Stephens, played by Dick York and later Dick Sergeant. Remember the way Samantha would twinkle her nose and all would b…
  • Difficult Decisions
    Vital Posts
    Do you know the spiritually ripe time for your congregation to make its most challenging decisions?  [Editor's note: think buildings or changing any long held 'tradition'....] The spiritually ripe time is when a congregation is in sync w…
  • Time Lapse Movie: A Week in the Life of St. Andrew’s
    Vital Posts
    At one of our Mardi Gras celebrations, a cook set up his fancy digital camera and it shot one frame every five minutes to create a time lapse video of the event, from start up to clean up. With the program year approaching, I am thinking I mig…
  • Virtual Tour your Church
    Vital Posts
    Forget the yellow-page ad. With 80 percent of church shoppers turning to the Internet first, spending limited marketing dollars on an outdated tool doesn’t make sense. Our diocese has been looking at ways for the Internet to help conn…
  • Heartbeat, Not Heartache
    Vital Posts
    Our churches "should be the heartbeat of mission and service, not the heartache of history and loss." Today Congregational Seasons celebrates The Episcopal Church Building Fund (ECBF) for its passion, vision, and pastoral care of congregations …
  • Getting Started on the Genesis Covenant
    Tools
    The Genesis Covenant challenges faith institutions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions of their facilities by 50% in ten years. The Getting Started Guide will help parishes take action on this important goal.
  • Worth the wait
    Vital Posts
    Having bad news appear on the front page of a local newspaper is easy. Getting the attention of a reporter – and editor – for good news is the challenge. When our bishop closed a local church in 2008, the handful of members took the…
  • Top Ten Things You See in a Church Merger
    Tools
    Is the possibility of a church merger being considered as part of your growth strategy? This resource may help...
  • Dating the Presbyterians
    Vestry Papers
    We are "dating" a Presbyterian congregation that may one-day co-habitat with us in our buildings.
  • From Death, New Life
    Vestry Papers
    What do you do when a once-vibrant ministry that defined a parish's commitment to social ministry outlives the needs of the surrounding community and the resources of the parish to sustain it?
  • Place
    Vital Posts
    Este artículo esta disponible en español aquí. There’s a particular scent I associate with Sunday mornings – dust and candle wax, a bit of incense, and aging wood. That was the smell I met every Sunday growing up, at St. Stephen’s, the ch…
  • Our Experience with a Green Focused Renovation
    Your Turn
    St John's Episcopal Church, Naples Fl is a forty year old property that is going through a restoration of its facilities and the creation of a magnificent rain garden
  • Broken Windows
    Vital Posts
    Who would think that cleaning up graffiti and cracking down on jaywalkers could lower crime rates? This is the main premise of the broken-windows theory, which posits that a cleaner, more orderly neighborhood is less likely to attract criminals…
  • 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…
  • Hospitality Matters: Seeing Our Buildings Anew
    Vestry Papers
    Episcopalians have moved beyond the era when, as the old joke went, evangelism meant unlocking the door on Sunday mornings. But how often does force of habit make us blind to our worship environment – without regard to design flaws and neglect that…
  • Maintenance Helps Mission
    Vestry Papers
    Rightly, the Episcopal Church is attempting to emphasize mission and noting that we often focus our efforts on maintenance. As a vestry member, you are familiar with the problem. Here are some suggestions.
  • Keep the Plaster out of the Soup
    Vestry Papers
    Last year, I asked five clergy –- evangelical and mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Jewish -– to record a short meditation from their own tradition that answered the question, Why should we spend money on our buildings when ther…
  • Flames and Faith
    Vestry Papers
    St. Edward the Confessor in suburban Minneapolis burned to the ground last April after a young man threw gasoline-filled bottles at the structure late on a stormy night. We asked the rector to share tips with our readers on coping with such a loss.
  • How Does It Work?
    Vestry Papers
    How do your boilers work? Where do you go to turn on, or down, or whatever, the air conditioners?
  • Avoid Unhappy Surprises
    Vestry Papers
    I’m the new warden of St. William’s in the Woods. The Deep Woods.
  • Teamwork, Patience and Humor
    Vestry Papers
    Vestry Papers asked wardens from the Consortium of Endowed Parishes their thoughts in planning for long-term maintenance of parish buildings.
  • God is in the Details
    Vestry Papers
    A storm spinning thousands of miles over the Pacific Ocean drives ahead of it warm but powerful southerly winds and dark, foreboding skies.
  • Holy Care of Holy Places
    Vestry Papers
    Serving on a buildings and grounds committee is probably one of the most thankless tasks you will ever be asked to do for your church.
  • New Heights
    Vestry Papers
    In today’s world of decreasing church attendance, changing parish demographics, and difficult economic times, it is essential that all of us optimize the stewardship of the resources with which we are blessed.
  • Inspiring Intersections
    Vital Posts
    One thing we’ve learned about disasters – in addition to the fear, suffering and disruption on lives and communities – is the ability of people to pull together in powerful ways. I learned this on September 12, 2001 when church leaders, n…
  • 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…
  • Doing the Trim Work
    Vital Posts
    I hate to trim. While the kids are away for a week at the grandparents, my husband and I are toiling through a long-delayed to-do list. That includes painting several rooms. Since my husband is at least seven inches taller, he works on …
  • 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…
  • Shabbat Shalom
    Vital Posts
    Two Fridays ago, I found myself walking through the doors of an Episcopal Church to attend a Shabbat service with friends.  Let me clarify...  Two friends recently invited me to attend a Shabbat service at their synagogue Congregatio…
  • 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…
  • Discernment: A Building Program About More than Buildings
    Fieldwork
    Almost every congregation considers a capital campaign at some point in time. You’ve invited to follow St. Aiden’s in Alexandria, Virginia as they progress through the steps of a campaign.
  • Led by Children
    Vital Posts
    The nursery renovation began with a 5-year-old. Our church is nearly 200 years old, and some of the toys in the nursery surely witnessed the first service. We even considered carbon-dating. But to be honest, our attention was on the adu…
  • Jewish Children's Garden Curriculum
    Your Turn
    Wonderful introduction to plant biology, nature study and creation care. 34 lessons spread throughout the seasons. Mainly for 2 - 5 year olds. Aimed at teaching Jewish values, very adaptable.
  • Tips for Parishes Considering a Food Pantry Garden
    Tools
    A food pantry garden is a wonderful ministry for a faith community. These gardens foster disciplineship, stewardship of the earth and social justice. They are places of gathering, hospitality and celebration. Given proper planning and upkeep, a faith…
  • Tips for Parishes Considering a Food Pantry Garden
    Your Turn
    Is a food pantry garden right for your parish? Here is a list of things to consider.
  • Let’s Move! Faith Community Garden Guide
    Your Turn
    Interested in faith gardens? This resource from the USDA includes many source more information about the gardening for faith communities.
  • Faith in Action
    Vestry Papers
    Faith in action – loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength by loving our neighbors as ourselves – is the hallmark of Jubilee Ministry.
  • Greening Our Faith – Putting Belief into Action
    Vestry Papers
    More and more people believe that protecting Creation is a religious value.
  • Meeting God in a Faith Garden
    Vestry Papers
    Gardens have always been places to meet God and God’s people.
  • Undercover Rector
    Vital Posts
    I’d love to see an episode of Undercover Rector. Taking a cue from reality TV, the rectors would cast off the alb, dye their hair and magically  transform into someone unrecognizable. They would visit the church a few times during the week, …
  • Going Green: A Step at a Time
    Vital Posts
    Hearing the rumble outside my office window, my first thought was that the recycling truck had arrived. When the noise continued longer than expected, I looked up: it was the oil truck. Living in the northeast, I have a love/hate relationship wi…
  • Buildings as Transformational Tools
    Vital Posts
    The question at our church is not who has a key to the building – but rather, who doesn’t? We’ve joked that we can’t change the locks; we’d have to order enough keys for the entire town. Our church facility is in constant use …
  • 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…
  • Giving Away the Church
    Vestry Papers
    “Giving from Our Abundance” sounds like a tired stewardship campaign slogan, but what might happen if a church did this?
  • Feed the Poor or Fix the Roof?
    Vestry Papers
    There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but it was raining at St. Tiffany’s-in-the-Fields. Inside.
  • The Church at Rest
    Vital Posts
    If your church is like mine, it gets a lot of foot traffic over the course of a season. If there isn’t a discipline in place of putting things back in their place, a church can take on a pretty rag tag feel and look. One key concept I have bee…
  • Resurrection Leadership
    Vestry Papers
    Do we really believe in resurrection? That is the question that the people of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Waco, Texas, asked themselves after closing St. Alban’s Memorial School, an Episcopal school that had served the children of Waco for 60…
  • Advent Parish Checklist
    Your Turn
    Parish "to-do's" before the holidays and year-end.
  • Going Green
    Vital Posts
    The Hope Conference (Healing Our Planet Earth (HOPE): Singing a New Song of Hope) was held in Seattle in 2008.  Featuring keynote speakers Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Stephen Charleston this event put the Episcopal Church …
  • Rejoice & beware: Practical issues
    Vestry Papers
    A capital campaign is an opportunity for building community, yet it can be fraught with obstacles.
  • Living hospitality
    Vestry Papers
    Dr. Alan Watton was ninety years old when he started coming to church, via a ride from our hospitality chairs (a husband and wife team). After the first service, he stopped on his way out and asked if I made home visits.
  • Capital campaigns, faith and hard times
    Vestry Papers
    St. Michael and All Angels is not a wealthy congregation. However, the story of our capital campaign over the past couple of years has been quite remarkable.
  • Riding Shotgun
    Vital Posts
    The holy golf bag rode shotgun in the mini-van for a couple of years. Who knew a golf bag could double as a holder for the processional cross and torches? Two Rubbermaid totes rounded out the portable church supplies, one filled with albs and the o…
  • Basics of a Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    This webinar provides a step-by-step understanding of the methodology that has led hundreds of Episcopal parishes to success using a flexible three phase process: Discernment, Feasibility Study, and the Gifting Phase. Learn how to prepare for and exe…
  • Transformational Side Effects of Capital Campaigns
    Webinars
    Whether you are considering embarking on a capital campaign, fearing that you need to conduct one, ignoring the need for one, or recovering from mistakes made in a past campaign, you should come hear the surprising good news - A capital campaign done…
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