Thursday, June 21, 2007

Priest Wanted for Congregation on Fire with a Sense of Mission!!!

The letter below was received today from Susanne Miller, from Oneida, New York. This is a wonderful group of people that I met at Start Up Start Over. They clearly understand mission, both personally and as a gathered Christian community and the priest that accepts this call will be blessed indeed!!!

Last October, the three of us along with our rector, Alan Smith, attended Start Up Start Over in San Antonio. For all of us, it was a life-changing experience, and the changes in our congregation, worship style, and focus reflect what we learned from you all.

The purpose for our church is clearly to bring people who are spiritual but do not have a church nearer to God. We have enriched our worship service with dancers, elaborate processions, Prayers of the People, sermons, hymn lyrics on screen. We have embraced the concept of door-to-door evangelism and have developed a team of 10 people for this mission. We have written and earned a $13,000 grant to be used toward the purchase of multi-media equipment and have asked our diocese to look to us to be a poster child of parishes working to redevelop ourselves.
We are serious and want you to know how much we appreciate what you did to inspire us.

Now we seek your help once more. When Alan came to us three years ago, we knew he would be leaving in three years. November is the end of his time here. We hate to see him leave, but we feel his best gift to us was to energize us to continue to move forward without his leadership.

We are, however, looking for a new leader. Because you both have had experience with starting new congregations and helping small parishes thrive, we are hoping you might know of someone who would fit our needs: a spiritual person with high energy, creativity, and commitment to working to move parishes up and into the 21st Century.

Unfortunately, our position is, of necessity, still a part-time position. We do have a wonderful bonus of being close to Syracuse University, Colgate University, Hamilton College, Cazenovia College, SUNY Morrisville, and LeMoyne College.....each within 30 minutes of Oneida and wonderful sources for advanced degrees in philosophy, medicine, law, sociology, and numerous other fields. Many opportunities for bi-vocational positions are available in our area as well. To learn more about our diocese, check out the Diocese of Central New York. Skip Adams is our Bishop......a wonderful and caring pastor.

Our deployment form is in the national church computer, but we are looking beyond that to you because the codes available to us didn’t suit our newly defined needs. Since you have so much contact with folks who become engaged with the Start Up Start Over premises, we think you may be excellent resources!

If you know of someone who might be interested in this position, please e-mail us at the following e-mail addresses:

Susan Slaunwhwite:
Kellie Lanz:
Sue Miller:

We would greatly appreciate it if you could steer us toward anyone who is excited about taking the church into the 21st Century!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Average Sunday Attendance and Percept Info

Since the release of the "Where Two or Three Are Gathered" Pilot, I've had many people contact me that did not know about the Study Your Congregation web site. On this site, anyone can access the Average Sunday Attendance chart for any Episcopal congregation or Diocese. To view/print this information, visit

Additionally, the First View Percept Report (a faith based demographic report) is also available FREE for the zip code in which the congregation is located. (An $80+ value. However, if you would like a profile for a larger zip code visit )

On the Study Your Congregation page you will also find links to specific information presented for congregations that match yours in terms of size, geographic location, and growth trend. This area is still under development (the material is ready and we are working with the web design team.) Check back to this area in the coming weeks as it promises to be an interactive site packed with information, stories, resources and more.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pilot Project Announcement

Where Two or Three are Gathered:
Creating Multiple Worship/Gathering Options in the
Small Congregation

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”
(Matthew 18:20)

The 2005 Faith Communities Today (FACT) report reveals that:

Small congregations that offer multiple worship services are more likely to be growing (39% of small congregations that offer three worship services are growing; 20% of small congregations that offer only one worship service are growing.)
Small congregations that offer innovative and diverse worship services are more likely to be growing (37% of small congregations offer innovative and diverse worship services are growing).

These findings suggest that offering multiple services that differ in style can be an effective way for the small congregation to reach new people.
Therefore, the Episcopal Church Center, in collaboration with Dr. Charles Arn (author of How to Start a New Service: Your Church CAN Reach New People), is launching a pilot project, “Where two or three are gathered”. This project is aimed to assist small congregations interested in introducing a new style of worship service/gathering. This new service/gathering will be in addition to the congregation’s current service(s).

This pilot project will be limited to 25 congregations with an average Sunday attendance (ASA) of 70 or less who seek to nourish the unmet spiritual needs of people in their wider community.

Over a period of approximately 18 months, the Office of Congregational Development will provide these congregations support and materials. Additionally, a two-day training conference with Dr. Arn and Episcopal Church Center staff will be offered January 25-26, 2008.

If you would like to consider participating in this exciting pilot please contact:

The Rev. Suzanne E. Watson
Staff Officer, Congregational Development
The Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mandatory Pension for Lay Employees of Episcopal Churches

In resolution A125 of the 2006 General Convention, the Office for Ministry Development was directed to ascertain the best possible way of determining a feasibility study which would review whether lay pension benefits should be made compulsory and, if so, whether or not a single service provider should be made available for pensions of lay employees in the Episcopal Church. To fulfill this direction the Office for Ministry development determined that a study group of approximately twelve people be gathered to offer collective wisdom about these issues. I was asked to be part of the group, an invitation I gladly accepted.

Today concluded two days of meetings. And there is great collective wisdom in the group, and I am honored to be the “voice of the small congregation” in the dialogue. However, that is where I need your help.

What are your views about the feasibility of mandating pensions for lay employees in the Episcopal Church? What is the recommendation when viewed from a theological perspective? From a stewardship perspective? From a social justice perspective? And what are the financial implications for the small congregation? Are the theological and stewardship considerations different when one looks at the financial realities of small Episcopal churches? If you are not part of the Epsicopal Church, does your denomination or faith group have pension mandates for employees?

I value your opinion and wisdom, and welcome your comments, either posted anonymously below or via e-mail at