April 16, 2024 by Haley Bankey

"Drawing from the Pulse campaign's insights, we're reminded to be bold in conveying our identity and rooted in our baptismal covenant and the Way of Love."
--Canon Mike Orr, The Episcopal Church in Colorado and Caffeinated Church

If you’re Episcopalian and on any kind of social media, you probably saw the responses to the “He Gets UsFoot Washing and Who is My Neighbor ads shown during the Super Bowl. Some people praised the ads for putting Christianity on such a wide-reaching platform. Others panned the advertisements as an improper use of money or a ‘bait and switch’ where the content of the ads didn’t necessarily match the beliefs of those who paid for it. One thing is for sure though... the ads got noticed.

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April 12, 2024 by Jacob Sierra

Last Fall, five faith communities from across the country embarked on their Pivot journey, an experience that now leaves them full of excitement, energy, and a sense of abundance for what’s ahead.

The Pivot program is a year-long, cohort-based online learning experience that allows smaller, under-resourced communities of faith to discern what God is calling them to be in their particular place and time while building relationships with other congregations from across the country. It also provides space for small church leaders to “pivot” their mindsets away from scarcity and failure, into identifying the key assets their congregation offers and the opportunities to engage and support their wider communities.

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April 11, 2024 by Juliette Acker

Endowment fund oversight is a significant undertaking. If you are a vestry, board, or committee member with this responsibility, you likely oversee investments and monitor spending. Increasingly, you also have a pivotal role in aligning the endowment with the future of your organization.

Strong endowment policies are anchored in an organization’s vision and goals. With a regular policy review, you can ensure that your endowment policies reflect any changing circumstances and continue to match your long-term objectives. These reviews can also help to re-engage committee members and encourage them to reflect on their roles and evaluate their stewardship of the endowment. In these meetings, you may ask questions like: Are we fulfilling our fiduciary responsibilities? Do we have a solid framework to address unforeseen changes or needs? And, crucially, how do we ensure that our endowment not only thrives but also makes a lasting impact?

The infographic below will help facilitate a thoughtful endowment policy review at your church or organization.

ECF has sample endowment policies that include vestry/board resolutions, endowment committee guidelines, an investment and spending policy, and various gift acceptance policies. Please email endowment@ecf.org for a copy. We can help you consider how to adapt them for your church or organization.

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Topics: Endowments, Finance
March 28, 2024 by Demi Prentiss

The ability to recognize assets beyond the church balance sheet – which typically looks only at financial assets and liabilities – has become an essential skill. Faith communities that can shine a light on their overlooked riches – well beyond their plate-and-pledge and endowments – can bring new life and new income to their ministries. And perhaps more importantly, congregations who can explore a new vision for “big picture” assessment and stewardship of their assets – with transparency, careful conversation, candor, and deep discernment – can find new life in a deeper relationship with both their assets and their community.

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Topics: Finance, Change
March 26, 2024 by Sandra Montes

Somos una familia de 6 personas donde hay tres niñas, un niño, mamá y papá. Somos venezolanos, orgullosos de nuestra nacionalidad. Somos de tierras llaneras. Esas tierras consisten mayormente de ganadería dónde el cultivo es una de las mayores riquezas que hay entre Venezuela y Colombia. Son numerosas las fincas con ganado y sembradío. Amamos nuestro país y nuestras raíces.

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March 26, 2024 by Sandra Montes

We are a family of six with three girls, a boy, a mom and a dad. We are Venezuelans, proud of our nationality. We are from the plains. These lands consist mainly of livestock where cultivation is one of the greatest assets between Venezuela and Colombia. There are numerous farms with livestock and crops. We love our country and our roots.

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March 21, 2024 by Greg Syler

Can I buy my church?

About ten years ago, the longtime rector of a nearby parish retired. She’d served well and faithfully for nearly 20 years in a part-time capacity, but the congregation’s numbers, which were never great to begin with, had dwindled. Lay leaders were concerned about the congregation’s future. Understandably so, I’ll add.

One day, nearing her retirement celebration Sunday, a wealthy retired physician – a member of the vestry and parish who had deep, deep connections to the church and whose family was buried in the churchyard invited her to lunch. “Reverend Mother,” he said, “I’d like you to set up a meeting with the Diocese.”

“What for?” she asked.

“I’d like to buy the church.”

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March 19, 2024 by Claire Woodley

In the Summer of 1995, I ordered two books that changed how I experience ministry in the parishes, vestries and groups I have worked with. The two books were: Listening Hearts by Suzanne Farnham et al and Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts by Charles V. Bryant. I had been well trained in Organizational Development for churches but all too often the presence and power of the Holy Spirit was at best an afterthought, but never a starting place.

I have learned the better part of wisdom is to start with the Holy Spirit, home to both spiritual giftedness and discernment. I use these two practices together to understand spiritual DNA, in the same way people are born with blue or brown eyes, people are born with spiritual gifts such as healing or leadership.

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March 14, 2024 by Demi Prentiss

What is our true purpose?

Reflecting on that 2019 “Vestry Papers” article, Nathan LeRud, dean of Trinity Cathedral, Portland, OR, reckoned, “We are not where we were four years ago.”

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March 12, 2024 by Greg Syler

Assets and liabilities, that’s Accounting 101. Assets generate income or initiative or power, whereas liabilities are those things that cost money and cost energy, focus, attention. Assets and liabilities.

The church’s greatest assets, of course, are the Holy Spirit and God’s people. To have a truly divine inspiration and calling, such that our vision will always exceed our human capacity – making us rely on God’s power, not our own – well, that’s an asset. That’s our primary asset. Clergy and lay leaders are our second greatest asset. If we’re prioritizing assets, The Episcopal Church should not only imagine but hasten to implement a future in which these two assets are lifted up as our greatest strengths. Anything else – everything else, in fact – should be shaped around these.

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March 7, 2024 by Lisa G. Fischbeck

We hear it, even say it, often. Gathered for a church meeting or a meal, maybe at the start of a youth event or a Zoom. The priest or lay leader in charge says something like, “Let’s just have a quick prayer.” Sometimes it is even, “Let’s just have a quick prayer and then we’ll get started.”

It’s usually followed by something ad hoc, a little thanksgiving, perhaps, or a request for God’s presence and guidance. No more than a sentence or two. Maybe three. Then everyone says, “Amen!” and we get on with whatever it is we are there to do.

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Topics: Worship, Change
March 5, 2024 by Demi Prentiss

Long, long ago, my grandfather told me a long-winded joke about the “sins” that various denominations believed would send them to hell. For Episcopalians, it was “using the wrong fork.” Turns out, at least as far as evangelism is concerned, our thinking still seems to run along the same lines.

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February 29, 2024 by Aline Sun
February 22, 2024 by Jacob Sierra

Creating a contact card for your congregation is a simple way to raise awareness among your community. Fr. Dexter Lesieur, Rector at St. Matthias’ Episcopal Church in Devine, TX, shares of his congregation’s engagement with individuals online. His first step? Making a simple contact card with a QR code to take individuals right to St. Matthias’ site!

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February 19, 2024 by Annette Buchanan

As we embark on the season of Lent and that of self-discipline, church leaders may want to consider what an organizational discipline for vestries and congregations would include. The following are offered for consideration.

Membership List – Lent may be a good time to update the congregation’s membership list and face the stark reality. Perhaps if we have not seen the person in 20 years they need to be dropped from the list? These are difficult decisions. Church Inventory – The insurance companies highly recommend that we compile an inventory of the church’s valuables. If one does not exist, consider Lent as a time to put those smartphone cameras to good use and catalog all items. If an inventory already exists, updates would be in order, especially after the generous donation of a used microwave.

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February 14, 2024 by Haley Bankey

Most people dislike change. It can be hard work, stopping an old habit and starting another. It’s especially hard for an institution or a system to change – a group of people all have to go through the process together.

Church leaders often see a need for a change, whether it's moving the time of a worship service, ending a beloved but no longer needed ministry, or something as big as moving to a new leadership model, but the congregational system doesn't always allow the change to take place.

The best changes happen because we’re watching to discover what God is up to, and partnering in the work God is already doing.

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February 13, 2024 by ECFVP Editorial Team

This year, Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14 and ends on Easter Sunday March 31. Lent provides us with the opportunity for self-examination, prayer, fasting and reading the Bible. Below please find a collection of resources for Lent and Easter with ideas to help make good use of this time of reflection.

1. The Episcopal Church invites us to walk with Jesus in his Way of Love and into the experience of transformed life through Life Transformed: The Way of Love in Lent, which includes videos, lesson plans and curricula, bulletin inserts and devotions available in English, Spanish, and French.

2. The United Thank Offering offers Lenten materials with a theme this year of 40 Days of Grateful Presence and a call to giving thanks for the many things in our lives we take for granted. They offer: a daily text message prompt to notice and give thanks for something in your life that you might take for granted; a printable calendar; special materials for children; and a Zoom book group.

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February 8, 2024 by Demi Prentiss

In this new blog series on “Reframing Assets”, we hear how four churches adjusted their thinking about their finances after Covid – reimagining assets, uncovering riches beyond the balance sheet, and charting a new course for ministry. In 2019 these churches shared plans to repurpose assets for ministry. Now, they update us on the critical four years since then, sharing lessons learned, insightful examples, and practical strategies for financial adaptation, asset realignment, and visionary stewardship. Learn how they seek to breathe new life into their community and thrive amidst change.

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January 31, 2024 by Jacob Sierra

You’ve probably heard the familiar grumble in your church or ministry setting “Where have all the young people gone?” Many of us are concerned about the declining interest in Christianity among young adults. In 2022, TryTank Experimental Laboratory and The FaithX Project partnered to test the Episcopal Pulse Pilot, a regular micro-survey. During that pilot, they learned that 8 in 10 Episcopalians surveyed said their congregation had anywhere between 1 and 20% of young adults (age 18-25) in their congregation, while 14% of Episcopalians surveyed said they had none at all.

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January 25, 2024 by Aline Sun