June 20, 2020 by Linda Buskirk

My goodness, a lot has happened in the world since we all worshipped in person together. For many, processing it all happened in the privacy of their homes. Others had to do so from hospital beds. Others from food lines, a situation they never dreamed of experiencing. Others from the front lines of community protests over racism.

In the weeks or months ahead, faith communities will gather again. Can we really just pick up where we left off and head on our way? Will Vestry meetings resume the usual topics of budget and Commission reports?

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June 17, 2020 by Greg Syler

In my previous post, I put forward the idea that the The Vestry is a thing, an entity in our church which needs serious re-examination and balance. I believe that at least one of our problems lies in our unspoken, unexamined but nevertheless shared core concepts around The Vestry. Frankly, too many people in too many congregations feel responsible to do nothing more than replicate an outdated oversight and management model year after year after year. Put that way, The Vestry is far from the kind of body which would help the Body of Christ keep the main thing the main thing. I believe the problem is much deeper than any of us realize, and it’s deep in the engine room of The Episcopal Church.

The solution? I’ll say it as simply as I know how: we need to better align the Vestry with the methods of a missionary church. It’s about alignment, not a new program or crafty idea. It’s about making The Vestry work for Christ’s Body, and not the other way around. It’s about making The Vestry as healthy and gifted and inspired as our healthiest, most gifted, most inspiring member.

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Topics: Vestry, Leadership
June 5, 2020 by Annette Buchanan

The COVID-19 pandemic rages on, a bit weakened in its spread, but still a major threat with over 100,000 deaths and a severe economic downturn. In tandem, many in our nation are outraged by yet another murder of a Black man - George Floyd, by law enforcement in Minneapolis, and have reacted with multiple days of protests. These realities directly impact our church communities as we tentatively contemplate the reentry to our church buildings in a yet to be determined future.

Inequity and justice are common threads among these realities. With COVID-19, it has been well reported that Black and Brown people have died from this disease in far greater numbers than their presence in the general population due to disparities in our healthcare systems, health conditions and occupations. How can we as church community and church leaders be part of the solution in addressing these disparities?

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Topics: Conflict, Leadership
May 20, 2020 by Victor Conrado

Every month ECFVP offers five resources on a theme. This month we've asked Victor Conrado, Canon for Congregational Vitality and Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, to share five resources that resonated with him. Please find his choices below. Please share this email with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and this monthly digest.

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Topics: Leadership, Change
May 20, 2020 by Victor Conrado

El Canónigo Victor Conrado, Canónigo para vitalidad y formación en la diócesis episcopal de Nueva York nos comparte los recursos que encontró en la Fundación de la Iglesia Episcopal que pueden usar con sus congregaciones y juntas parroquiales. Estos recursos nos ayuda a vivir nuestra fe y liderazgo durante esta pandemia.

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Topics: Leadership
May 7, 2020 by Ken Mosesian

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris has always held a special place in my heart. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit her more than 20 times, beginning when I was 17 years old. I’ve been there for prayer, for Mass, for quiet reflection from the park behind the Cathedral or the plaza in front of it. My sister and I took my dad there for his 90 birthday, where he was in awe of the fact that he was worshipping in the same place where Christians had worshipped for 850 years.

After the visit with our dad, I reflected on how much the Cathedral had given to me. I felt compelled to give back, beyond what I put in the offering plate when I visited. I checked out the Cathedral’s website, and I was shocked to discover how much work needed to be done to restore the structure. Gargoyles were falling off the façade. There was a question as to the stability of some of the flying buttresses. The central flèche (spire) was in disrepair.

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Topics: Change, Leadership
April 17, 2020 by Linda Buskirk

“Nearly every morning, I enjoy morning prayer time with a group of friends.”

Three years ago, those words began my Vital Practices blog post about a virtual community of faithful people who regularly read and comment on Forward Movement’s daily prayer meditations published online at Forward Day by Day.

Today there is a new dimension to my gratitude for this ministry and my friends who meet me there. The constancy of this place keeps me grounded while my home church is closed. Thanks be to God for new platforms for community worship such as YouTube, Zoom and Facebook. But let’s face it, it’s been a learning curve to find them and get used to them.

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April 17, 2020 by Carsten Sierck

Most Episcopal organizations rely on generous donors to support their mission and ministry. Stewardship can be deeply spiritual, rooted in a desire to reorient our lives towards God, but it also has a practical side. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, includes several provisions that may affect charitable giving this year. We encourage churches to talk about these opportunities with their congregations.

New charitable deduction for taxpayers who do not itemize. Beginning in 2020, individuals can deduct $300 in charitable contributions from their gross income even if they do not itemize their deductions. Donations must be made in cash to a charity. Gifts of appreciated securities, and gifts to a donor advised fund or supporting organization, do not qualify. Although the permissible amount is modest, it is a new benefit available to many of your donors.

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April 17, 2020 by Carsten Sierck

La mayoría de las organizaciones episcopales dependen de donantes generosos en apoyo de su misión y ministerio. La mayordomía puede ser profundamente espiritual, enraizada en el deseo de reorientar nuestras vidas hacia Dios, pero también tiene su lado práctico. La Ley Asistencia y Alivio del Coronavirus y de Seguridad Económica (Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security Act, abreviada como CARES), promulgada el 27 de marzo de 2020, contiene varias disposiciones que afectan las donaciones caritativas de este año. Estimulamos a las iglesias a que hablen sobre estas oportunidades con sus feligresías.

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March 27, 2020 by Ken Mosesian

As I walked into All Saints’ Phoenix for the 11:00 AM Mass this past Sunday, something felt palpably different. I spoke with our Rector, Father Poulson Reed, the Bishop-Elect of Oklahoma. Plans were in full swing for next week’s going away party and final celebrations of the Holy Eucharist after a decade as our Rector.

But we both had a sinking feeling that things were about to change, and change rapidly. It was as if the walls were closing in, and there was nothing that could be done about it.

During the Mass, I recalled stories I had read of Europe at the onset of World War II. People in church, knowing that it would be the last time they would gather as a community for months or years, because the enemy was fast approaching.

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March 21, 2020 by Ken Howard

How can our congregations do effective outreach while the COVID 19 pandemic makes social distancing necessary?

How can our congregations contribute to controlling the Coronavirus?

These are two important questions to ask and answer during the current pandemic (and there are likely many more)...

First, ground yourself in hard data from reliable sources about Coronavirus and COVID19: What is it? What does it do? How does it spread? How can people both protect themselves from the virus and avoid spreading it to others? How do you know you might have it? What do you do if you think you do? What COVID-related resources are in your area?

Reliable, data-grounded sources and resources include:

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Topics: Leadership, Change
March 17, 2020 by Linda Buskirk

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,” including, “a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.”

Yes, this is a time to refrain from embracing. But what else does this scary time of COVID-19 offer to those in church leadership?

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March 13, 2020 by ECFVP Editorial Team

Below you will find resources we’ve gathered from across the Church, designed to inform and support us through the current COVID-19 pandemic. Included are the most recent messages, resources and recommendations from the Episcopal Church, recommendations from the CDC and WHO (in English and Spanish), and various worship, prayer, and community resources to use during this time. We hope you find them helpful. We join in prayer with our siblings around the world, as we navigate this difficult time together.

Note: We will update this list as new resources are made available. If you have a relevant resource to share, please send it to editor@episcopalfoundation.org

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January 22, 2020 by Cathy Hornberger

This month we offer five resources on lay leadership. Please share this digest with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and the monthly digest.

1) Growing up evangelical Pentecostal gave Jade Mohorko Ortiz a unique appreciation of vestries in the Episcopal Church. In Trust the Process, she explains why having a vestry is so significant and shares helpful suggestions, especially for churches that are multicultural and multilingual.

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Topics: Vestry, Leadership
December 19, 2019 by Linda Buskirk

They may not have the fragrance of frankincense or the mystery of myrrh, but here are three gifts worth their weight in gold to your faith community.

Bless your church treasurer, rector or your entire Finance Committee or Vestry with copies the recently released Finance Resource Guide. According to the Episcopal Church Foundation, this book is of value to newly ordained priests, veteran parish treasurers, and everyone in between.

The Finance Resource Guide offers a basic, practical, and theologically grounded resource for lay and clergy leaders to navigate the complex but essential tasks of raising, stewarding, and expending financial resources for local mission and ministry.

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September 19, 2019 by Nick Sollog

In 2017, I had a client in the midst of a Feasibility Study when their beloved Rector was elected to be a Bishop in another Diocese. One would think this would mean the end of their hard work toward a campaign, but it came at the right time. The personal interviews had been completed but the majority of the parish had not been invited to respond to the survey. Because of this, their report provided a true picture and temperature for moving forward with the campaign.

While there was some concern, the overall theme of the report was that they could move forward and had the potential to raise just over $1 million for the projects that were under consideration. What the Vestry needed to do then was decide how they would move forward. They had the good fortune to have a strong committee and an outgoing Rector who both wholeheartedly supported moving forward into the solicitation phase of the campaign.

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July 1, 2019 by Lindsey Harts

I’ve often wondered why we, as millennials, are known for our insistence upon radical authenticity and our lack of tolerance for facades. The bulk of our generation grew up in the years surrounding and following the Columbine High School shooting. Many of us grew up doing “code red drills” where we hid under our desks and inside closets, knowing that in the instance that a shooter wrought havoc on our school, only a windowed classroom door stood between the shooter and our demise. Whenever I student-taught in college and entered a new classroom for the first time, my first instinct was to get a full visual layout of the room and see how I could best protect my students if there were to be a shooter. If there was a closet in the classroom, was it locked or unlocked? Was it big enough to hold students? Was there a window that students could safely use to exit the building? All of these questions went through my mind. These questions were harrowing questions to ask, but not at all out of the ordinary.

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June 28, 2019 by John Lynch

One of the odd perks of being a millennial, even if an “old” one, in the Episcopal Church is that I have always been expected to be a leader. Someone once suggested that it’s because I have some special quality or other, but probably it is just because I have continued to show up. Given that nearly all the millennial Episcopalians I know, no matter their shape, size or color, are also priests, I suspect that my experience is not entirely unique. Although this sort of experience may have been more common than I realized at the time, parts of it still strike me as odd.

During my youth there were plenty of occasions when I was asked to take on some small task or to coordinate some small group, which is all meet, right, and good. I imagine that this is normal for most kids who grow up in church. The odd part was that most of the time I was the only kid who showed up to church. This resulted in quirky absurdities like being named the leader of a youth group of which I was the only member. (I even received diocesan training for it!)

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May 29, 2019 by Maria Bautista Vargas

As a young adult, I yearn for a Church where all young adults experience unforgettable moments in ministries that are their own in some way. I yearn for a Church that offers young adults the tools, the love, and the patience they need in their journey of understanding themselves, their faith, and the world around them.

The Church that I hope for is the type of Church that I have glimpsed through individuals who took chances on me, encouraged me, challenged me, prayed with me, and helped form me to be the person I am today. My life as a disciple has been enriched by opportunities to both lead and learn to follow; whether I was co-chairing a diocesan commission, preaching at Nuevo Amanecer, speaking up at General Convention, serving as camp counselor or a youth leader, or helping to develop a companion diocesan relationship between Texas and Costa Rica. I am a different kind of friend, daughter, mentor, and woman of faith today because I have been invited to walk into some strange and beautiful places to find the Spirit at work there.

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March 19, 2019 by Greg Syler

Weeks or maybe months ago, someone asked you to consider serving on your church’s Vestry. You thought about it, prayed about it, talked with your family and friends about it. You know you have gifts to share, and you love your church. You want to serve God and help your congregation. But you’ve also heard stories from past Vestry members – the late nights, the struggles, the big questions, the anxieties, the mountains turned into molehills.

Serving on the Vestry is an amazing opportunity to grow, but like all opportunities it’s not without challenge and growth areas. Vestry is the place where faith meets structure, where character matters, where leadership counts. Serving on Vestry can help strengthen your walk with Christ. Instead of a Top Ten list for things to do or think about as a Vestry leader, I’m more concerned with ways in which Vestry service helps individuals thrive and a congregational culture take off. As I prepare to gather our new Vestry, here’s my Top Ten list of ways to thrive as a Vestry Leader.

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Topics: Vestry, Leadership