Every month ECFVP offers resources on a theme. This month we've asked ECF's own Dr. Adriane Bilous to choose resources from Vital Practices to highlight. Please find her 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.
As this difficult year comes to a close, we invite you to take the time to celebrate Advent. A season of anticipation and waiting, Advent can be a wonderful time to pause and reflect not just on what has happened, but what is to come. To help you celebrate this season, we’ve gathered ten resources for Advent. From all of us at ECF, we pray that your Advent is filled with health and hopeful anticipation.
1. 5 Ways to Prepare Ye is a short and practical article to help Episcopalians recognize and observe the differences between Advent and Christmas.
2. Journeying the Way of Love Advent Curriculum: The Episcopal Church has produced this four-week curriculum that moves through the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke. It’s perfect for use during your Christian Formation hour before or after church and can be used by small or large groups.
More than 25 years ago, I started using Forward Movement’s Forward Day by Day (FDBD) publication as a Lenten discipline. I found starting the day by reading the Scriptures and reflecting on the meditations so meaningful that I kept it up. In those days, I read from the little printed booklets distributed at my church. When I found a meditation I loved, I gently tore out the page and taped it into my prayer journal. Today, I visit Forward Day by Day online. Now when I am particularly moved or enlightened by a meditation, I “copy and paste” it into my digital prayer journal.
How delighted I am to learn that Forward Movement has published a collection of past meditations in book form entitled Come and See: Reflections of the Life of Jesus. Curated by long-time Forward Day by Day reader Sanford Smith, Come and See includes some of the best Forward Day by Day meditations from the past three decades.
In my more than 25 years in starting new congregations and redeveloping existing ones, I have gained a number of hard-won insights into what makes stewardship successful. These insights are the results of much congregational experimentation and reviewing giving research, and most of them go against the grain of our stewardship traditions. I offer this list ten DOs and DON’Ts below:
Stewardship DOs and DON’Ts:
2020 has been a year of difficult reality checks. Yes, it’s dangerous out there. Yes, you should wear a mask. Yes, you need to figure out Zoom.
Now there is an opportunity for a vitality check, designed to help focus congregational leadership and planning.
The Congregational Vitality Assessment (CVA), is now offered at no cost thanks to a partnership between the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) and The FaithX Project. The CVA provides congregations with an assessment of Vitality (healthiness) and Sustainability (level of people, financial, and contextual resources necessary to survive and even thrive). The vitality section of the CVA measures ten areas of congregational functioning, such as Vision and Mission, Leadership, Lay Empowerment, Worship, Formation, and Stewardship.