Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thanksgiving Liturgical Resources

Two Free Resources for the Thanksgiving Season!

Celebrate God's gifts for which we give thanks...

The National Council of Churches Eco-Justice has created two agriculturally-themed worship resources for congregations to use this Thanksgiving season. They both focus on the intersection of food, faith and farming and the importance of a healthy environment to make it all possible. Both resources contain background information, sermon starters, liturgy, and small group discussion guides.The resources are FREE and down loadable.Go here to read about the resources and to download:

Please contact Adam Bray ( for any questions.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kanuga Joy!

October 7, 2007, over 135 people gathered at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC, for a four-day conference to explore “Creative Models of Sacramental Leadership in the Small Church.” Participants included small church leaders from the Methodist Church and ELCA, and Anglican representatives from the provinces of Canada and New Zealand. The Episcopal Church was represented by 8 provinces and 44 dioceses, including Northern Michigan, Wyoming, Western Kansas, Texas, Easton, Western New York and Northern California. Also represented were the Episcopal Divinity School and Virginia Seminary, as well as organizations that serve the small church such as Living Stones, Episcopal Appalachian Ministries, Rural Ministry Network, New Directions North East, and the Domestic Missionary Partnership.

The gathering was marked by excitement and enthusiasm, as this diverse group came together to address fresh expressions of how small congregations live out their part in God’s greater mission.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori addressed the group, inviting an expansive understanding of sacramental leadership to include the ministry of all baptized people and the ministry they exercise in their daily lives. Archbishop David Moxon of the New Zealand Dioceses further challenged assumptions by inviting participants to consider social action groups that gather to break bread as a way to live out the gospel. He also encouraged increased understanding of the scope of small church mission by inviting participants to view our gathered communities as “a mission with a church, and not a church with a mission.” The life and ministry of the late Rt. Rev. Jim Kelsey, who had planned to present at the event, was remembered with a time of silence as the podium was left vacant, followed by a co-presentation on local collaborative ministry by his brother, the Rev. Steve Kelsey, along with the Rt. Rev. Donald Phillips.

Because of the overwhelming interest in this sold-out event, a DVD will be produced and available as a free download in early 2008. An initial planning meeting was also held to discuss the feasibility of a Small Church Best Practices summit to be held in 2009.

The conference closed with a lively Eucharist where Archbishop Moxon presided and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Scori preached. Two Anglican Archbishops uniting in worship was symbolic of all that had occurred: as a (sm)all church, we can do great things when we come together to live out our part in God’s greater mission.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Final Upward Bound Seminars Announcement

On behalf of the Rev. Charles Fulton, Director of Congregational Development, this is to announce the final two seminars of “Upward Bound, Leading Congregations Through Change, Decisions, and Conflict”.

The last seminar scheduled for the western region will be held November 12-15, 2007 in Santa Fe, NM. Three spaces remain available – please call promptly if you would like to register.

The final seminar will be held May 5-8, 2008 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Full registration materials are at:

Below is an overview of the seminar content. Do not hesitate to call if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you at one of the upcoming Upward Bound events.

Leading Congregations Through
Change, Decisions, and Conflict

Transformational leadership begins with a transformed leader. Upward Bound addresses the personal work leaders need to do in order to lead in challenging times of growth and change.

Upward Bound is for the congregational development leader who is ready to address the following situations:
· Your primary goals are sabotaged by distracting mini-fires.
· Emotional responses are disproportionate to the situation.
· You are leading ‘process’ with people operating in a ‘yes or no’ world.
· You are caught in a problem that is not yours to solve.
· There is a negative force that drains time and emotional energy.
· Passive-aggressive behaviors have reached an artful level.

The work is personal, intensive, and transforming. Agenda items include:

►How to examine both a conflicted situation and your place in it.
►Explore your individual awareness of how you receive approval and support.
►Different levels of needs and the implications for congregational behavior.
►Skills to stop participating in destructive games and negative cycles.
►Renegotiate relationships after conflict has erupted.
►Increase listening and feedback skills for clarity rather than inference or judgment.
►Distinguish between problems that are yours and others.

Upward Bound the primary congregational leader who has primary responsibility for leading and managing the congregation through change and growth. The goal is to heighten your awareness and skills required to lead congregations in times of change and transition. The training is highly interactive, includes teaching, role-play, conversation, and personal reflection.

You will be invited to carefully explore your individual awareness and competence, examine the congregational setting in which you lead, and apply new models of interpretation to effect change.

Space is limited to 35 registrants. Upward Bound is sponsored by the Office of Congregational Development and coordinated in partnership with the Episcopal Church Building Fund. To learn more call 800-334-7626, ext. 6003.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Too often, popular culture depicts mental illness in ways that reinforce stigma and misunderstanding. But today, we have a special opportunity to support a film that poignantly captures the effect of mental illness on a family, and contains powerful and accurate messages to help reduce stigma.

CANVAS is a feature film written and directed by Joseph Greco, depicting his experience as a young boy whose mother has schizophrenia. It stars Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden and Emmy Award winner Joe Pantoliano. More information about Canvas is at

The movie is opening in very limited release. If ticket sales on opening day are good, it will go on to national release. But if sales are disappointing, the film will have no further theatrical distribution at all.

Opening day ticket sales will determine whether this film has a future. If you do live in one of the cities below, please consider seeing the film and bring your friends.

NYC - October 12thRegal Union Square Stadium 14850 Broadway(212) 253-6266
Chicago - October 12thAMC Loews 600 North Michigan 9600 N. Michigan Ave. (312) 255-9347
Los Angeles - October 19thLaemmle Sunset 58000 Sunset Blvd. (323) 848-3505
Scottsdale - October 19thHawkins Shea 147354 E. Shea Blvd Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Fort Lauderdale - October 19th Location TBD

Please visit for updates.

Request for Small Church Input

The following is from The Rev. Lindsay Hardin Freeman who requests input from small church leaders:

In the next issue of Vestry Papers, we will explore how vestry meetings and Bishop's Committee meetings can be most effective. What makes for a good meeting in your eyes? Wardens, clergy, what are your hopes and expectations? How can such a meeting both accomplish church business and be faith-centered?

As we're working with some tight space, shorter answers work best. We won't be able to print all of the replies, but it would help greatly to know what people are thinking along these lines. Deadline: October 24th. Please reply to Lindsay Hardin Freeman at:

Thanks so much -


The Rev. Lindsay Hardin Freeman
190 Cygnet Place
Long Lake, MN 55356
(952) 449-0166

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Solomon's Porch

Solomon's Porch, pictured above, now gathers in a rented space that used to be a Methodist Church. Note the mismatched and worn sofas; as one member said, "The sofas are worn and frayed around the edges, just like the people who sit on them."

A New Generation of Gathered Community: Exploring the Emergent Church in Minneapolis

From September 15-17, 2007 the semi-annual meeting of diocesan congregational development officers gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We travelled out in teams to worship with different emergent church communities and other new generations of gathered communities (I personally worshipped with four communities with in 24 hours). We had a DVD production crew along who captured clips of the different worship services, as well as filmed a three hour discussion about what we observed, what was different, and how an Episcopal congregation might gather in a similar way.

What I witnessed (and this is my own perspective) was communities of people gathered in Christ's name, seeking authentic worship (and small groups) that is (are) relevant to their daily lives, and a clear message that God loves each of us as we are and welcomes us. There was a rawness to the worship, it was never perfect and didn't aim to be. Rather, imperfect people (like all of us) shared their faith journey, came as they were, and looked to experience Christ's transformative love.

One community, "Spirit Garage" (The Church with the Big Door) met in a music theater. I knew I was in for a different experience when I was offered ear plugs with my "worship menu." What might be relevant to Episcopal congregations is that Spirit Garage is a daughter congregation of a traditional ELCA church, and is still part of that congregation. While the service is loose, the communion prayers and baptismal liturgy were still ELCA liturgy (there was a baptism on the day we visited. I was surprised that the worship was multi-generational with lots of babies and not just youth and young adults).

If this subject is of interest to you, look for a free DVD from our office to be released early next year...