Monday, November 27, 2006

CCAB Meeting In Chicago

From November 15-17, 2006 the Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards of the Episcopal Church met in Chicago.

The Standing Commission for Small Congregations is composed of 11 members (representing the dioceses Navajoland, Southeast Florida, Kansas, Vermont, Northern Michigan, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, North Dakota, Spokane, Easton, and Louisiana.) Additionally, appointed members (with out vote) were present from the House of Deputies, Executive Council, and the Church Center. All in all, it was a Spirit-filled gathering of mission oriented church leaders that filled me with hope for our small churches.

During the meeting four goals were outlined for the next triennium. Specifically:

  • Continued dialogue with the Church Pension Group re: church benefits and compensation for lay staff and clergy (esp. part time) and creating mechanisms to assist graduating seminary students with debt relief.

  • Reporting on convergence of statistics on Status of Women and Small Congregations and leadership of lay and ordained women in small congregations to General Convention '09.

  • Continue to share stories of vitality.

  • Demonstrate a presence at General Convention '09 that moves the whole church beyond sympathy to action.

Means to achieve these goals include:

  • Tools for publicity and evangelism in the small church.

  • Tools for worship in small congregations.

  • Tools to engage targeted constituencies.

  • Networking with other CCABs.

  • Support Church Center Staff with leadership training/dissemination of information to diocesan staff and parish laity and clergy with the above identified tools that encourage churches to grow spiritually/missionally, and sometimes in numbers, recognizing that many small churches are vital in place and size while other small churches can and want to grow in membership.

From you own small church experience, would you concur that these goals and means reflect the most pressing needs and concerns of the small congregation? Why or why not?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Latino/Hispanic Congregational Development

The Office of Ethnic Congregational Development--Latino/Hispanic Ministry Department offers a wealth of information on their web site, found at
At this site you will find sermons in Spanish, Spanish liturgies (such as for The Quinceanera, a fiesta for the thanksgiving of the coming of age for girls--the image above is an example of a decoration), the Office of Daily Prayer in Spanish, many links, plus much much more.
For more information about the Latino/Hispanic Congregational Development, contact
The Rev. Anthony Guillén Missioner, Latino/Hispanic Ministries at or phone 800.334.7626 ext. 5349.

Voices of Young Adults: A DVD

In June 2005, the Episcopal Church invited young adults from across the USA to share their opinions about the church. Some of these persons are active in congregational life, some are not, but all share a wellspring of affection for the Episcopal Church and hope for a church more engaged with the gifts that young adults have to offer.

Every congregation in the Episcopal Church was sent a copy of the DVD. On it you will find three video segments of 9 minutes each, each followed by a set of suggested discussion questions. I encourage your congregation/vestry to listen to these voices with pauses for questions and discussion.

You will also find a down loadable version, along with the featured young adults' biographical statements, a user guide for the videos, and abridged transcripts at

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mutual Ministry in Northern Michigan

Mutual Ministry: A Primer


I am just back from a dizzying trip of church visitations, teaching and learning.

Part of this trip involved attendance at a Visitor’s weekend in Northern Michigan for those interested in learning more about Mutual Ministry. . Despite the fear of crashing the Bishop’s car which I’d borrowed during a snow storm to drive through a mountain pass (not a good idea for a San Diego native), the weekend was informative, inspirational, and provided a good opportunity for anyone wishing to learn more about the experience of congregations in Northern Michigan. The visitors were from areas across the United States, and abroad (Scotland).

In this depopulating and geographically isolated part of the United States, small congregations face many seemingly overwhelming challenges; but despite these challenges, these congregations have not just struggled to survive, they are creatively finding ways to thrive and continue to bring the message of Christ’s transformative love to their region and the world in a very vital way.

In the Northern Michigan model “ministry support teams” are raised up and commissioned for ministry from the congregation. This includes the ministers of education, music, and pastoral care, as well as the preacher, deacon and the sacramentalists (which are ordained but not seminary trained and work with out financial compensation) to name a few. Regional missioners and the bishop (all seminary trained at present) work as a support team for the individual congregational teams across the diocese.

Did I walk away with questions? Yes. Do I think it is the answer for every small congregation? No. But what I walked away with was a profound appreciation for how ministry has developed in Northern Michigan, and a challenge to continue to look, find, discover and share new and creative ways of “being church” in this post-Christendom world.

I invite your response…

If you’d like to find out more about Mutual Ministry in Northern Michigan the next visitor’s week end is scheduled for April 27-29, 2007. Contact Jane Cisluycis at or call 906.228.7160.