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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