October 31, 2011 by Steve Ayers

Step 1. Define your skills, values, and purpose

Who are you, what are your blessings, and where might you like to exercise those blessings? If you don’t know who you are, you will not be able to discern what positions might be good for you, and therefore you will not be able to effectively sell your strengths to a search committee. Just as a parish begins a search process by creating a profile describing their assets, challenges and aspirations, so too clergy should begin their search by identifying their experience, skills, values, dreams and purpose. This portfolio of information serves two purposes. It will provide information for your resume, and OTM Ministry Portfolio, and responses to search committee questions. It will also provide clergy with a yardstick to help discern whether given parish opening is a good fit.

Continue reading...

October 24, 2011 by Steve Ayers

Understanding the process from the clergy’s perspective

Clergy beginning to search for a new position can anticipate spending a year or two looking at several prospective positions before finding a good match and receiving a call. This process takes time for at three reasons: 

It takes a while to find a good match. Not all good matches result in a call. The process from initial nomination through final interview and decision often takes six to eight months.

Clergy in a search process have two tasks: 

To discern whether a given parish will be a blessing for you and your family. To present yourself to the search committee as a blessing to the parish. 

Continue reading...

October 17, 2011 by Steve Ayers

One of the my core values is clarity. Hence, entering into search processes early in my career drove me nuts, as the process seemed opaque. I never knew what happened when or why. Nor could I understand why there were long lapses in communication from the search committee. Through personal experience and through coaching colleagues, a five step understanding of the search process emerged.

This five step model of a search process will be outlined in a series of blogs over the coming weeks. Before looking at the search process from the clergy’s point of view, let’s peek behind the curtain and see the process search committees usually follow. They also use a five step process, roughly parallel to what we need to do as clergy.

Continue reading...

July 8, 2011 by Thad Bennett
Yikes! The Rector is retiring/leaving and there are so many dynamics going on! 
Where can we get some perspective? 
Where is there help?
A new resource from Fresh Start (2013 Update: the program is no longer running, but resources have been uploaded to ECF Vital Practices) builds upon 10 years of experience helping congregations move through the transition from one rector to the next. While most of its focus has been working with dioceses and their Transition Ministers, Fresh Start is now making their material available to lay leaders looking for resources to help a congregations in transition beginning with the announcement of a Rector’s departure and continuing through the search process.  

Continue reading...

May 16, 2011 by Richelle Thompson

My daughter was only four months old the first time I truly understood the challenge of raising PKs – priest kids.

I held her in my arms as we waited by the door for my husband to lock up the church. Her little face peaked out from a caterpillar costume. Across my back stretched butterfly wings. A Martha-Stewart idea brought to reality by my sewing whiz of a mother-in-law, the costume won first place at the church contest.

Like every mom, I was happy that she won – though she had no idea and was perfectly content with her pacifier. The ribbon will go in her baby book, I decided.

Another family walked out. The mom looked at us and under her breath, she muttered, “Figures she won first place. She’s the preacher’s kid.”

It was a sucker punch.

I’m not prone to casual weeping, but the tears welled up right away. I cried, not over a silly costume contest but rather for a new understanding of the thin space in which we would raise our children.

If they won a contest at church, it would be because they were priest’s kids. If they knew a Bible story, it was because they were priest kids, and if they didn’t, then something must be wrong. If they misbehaved, they would be judged more harshly. If they sat like angels, it would be taken for granted.

When I was five years old, my parents moved to a new church, and I lost a bet with a fellow Sunday School classmate. He told me that Wesley’s dad was the preacher. I didn’t believe it. In my small view of the world, preachers didn’t have families. They weren’t real people with obligations and relationships.

Preachers were on a pedestal.

I don’t want my children to be there too.

February 1, 2011 by Nancy Davidge

As promised, ECF Vital Practices continues to add to its January/February Vestry Papers themed content with two new articles:

Covenants in Congregational Life
In his role as the Episcopal Church’s Missioner for Church Planting, Ministry Redevelopment, and Fresh Expressions, Thomas Brackett has witnessed the power of covenants as a tool for building a healthy congregation. Learn how covenants might help your congregation achieve its goals.

Healthy Transitions: The Role of Leaders Part 2
In part one, Sandra Clark Kolb of Fresh Start shared ways congregational leaders can make the transition from a departing to a new rector a healthy one, by managing both the change (the event itself) and the transition (people’s internal responses). In part two, she focuses on steps congregational leaders can take to lay a welcoming foundation for a new rector.

I invite you to share your ‘Healthy Practices’ with other ECF Vital Practices readers by commenting on an article, blog, or tool or by sharing your own healthy practices in the Your Turn section.

VP Talk: Two New Transcripts

In January, ECF Vital Practices sponsored two VP Talks: Tom Ehrich’s “The End to ‘Business as Usual’” and Mary MacGregor’s “No More Parking Lot Conversations.” Transcripts of both are available on the site.

Building Community: Do You Have a Lenten Resource to Share?

Is your congregation ready for Lent? Have you developed or discovered Lenten resources that you would recommend to others? ECF Vital Practices invites congregations and faith groups to use the Your Turn section of the site to share their Lenten resources and practices with others. Registered users can log in and upload documents or audio, video, or image files directly. Not a registered user? Please visit the ECF Vital Practices homepage and click on “Register.’

March/April Preview

“Caring for God’s Creation” is the theme for the March/April issue of Vestry Papers. Posted online March 1, this issue will offer a variety of hands on resources for congregations interested in reducing their carbon footprint or going green.

Thank You

I want to thank our readers and contributors for helping all of us at ECF Vital Practices build a resource for congregational leaders. The number of unique visitors to our site continues to increase, due in large part to the work many of you are doing to help us spread the word. Please continue to do so.

As always, I welcome hearing from you either through the website or by email,editor@episcopalfoundation.org.


Nancy Davidge
Editor, ECF Vital Practices

January 31, 2011 by Richelle Thompson

Click here for a Spanish translation of this blog post.

In 14 years as a clergy spouse, I’ve witnessed the gamut of how a congregation cares for its priest.

Don’t get me wrong – I know that the congregation pays its priest – and this is both a job and vocation, but I’ve come to believe that one way to measure the health of a church is how it interacts and cares for its priest.

I don’t see the congregation’s wealth – or lack thereof – or Sunday attendance -- high or low -- as factors in the care and feeding of priests. We’ve served a variety of churches, from tiny country congregations to large suburban, a new start and county seat churches.

Continue reading...