ECF Vital Practices is a New, Free Website: Resources for congregational leaders from ECF
NEW YORK, October 18, 2010—ECF Vital Practices, a new free website from the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF), launched today at http://www.ecfvp.org/. The site, an online extension of Vestry Papers, is edited by Nancy Davidge and includes a blog hosted by Richelle Thompson, communications director of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, and the Rev. Peter Strimer, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Seattle.
ECF Vital Practices provides tools for parish leaders, including practical and spiritual resources; stories about real-life congregational issues; Vestry Papers articles; the blog; and periodic live webchats. The first webchat will be held on Wednesday, October 20 at 8 pm with the Rev. Angela Emerson, president of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship and minister of stewardship development in the Diocese of Vermont.
In recognition that fall is stewardship season for many congregations, the site launched with three features on stewardship: David Posteraro of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland on year-round stewardship; Emilla Allen of Emmanuel Church, Boston on lessons learned from a parish fundraiser; and Laurel Johnston, program officer for stewardship for the Episcopal Church on a 2010 survey of Latino congregations.
Emerson was among a group of congregational leaders who volunteered to preview the new site and have given it strong reviews. “What a wonderful contribution to the Church,” she said. Bill Joseph, a deputy from the Diocese of Ohio and member of New Life Episcopal Church in Uniontown, Ohio, said “This is a great resource, and I wish I’d had access to it when I was on vestry!” Acknowledging the financial constraints currently afflicting parishes and dioceses, Rebecca Nelson-Gomez, administrative assistant in the Diocese of Texas wrote, “I love that this is now a free resource. Our budget thanks you!”
Mary Ann Braddock, long-time Vestry Papers subscriber and parish secretary at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Crescent City, Florida, is pleased that ECF Vital Practices continues in the tradition of its print forbearer, which will cease publication at the end of 2010. “I continue to find in the website the same kinds (except more of them) of helpful ideas that I found in the printed edition of Vestry Papers,” she wrote. “There is also ample encouragement to try new things rather than take the ‘we've always done it this way’ approach,” she continued. “It is a different world that we are trying to work in and different folk with whom we are trying to communicate—not the one that I grew up in. We need ways to reach the folk that are out there, and I think we will find tools to accomplish that with the new website.”
In her first editor’s letter, Davidge wrote that “moving online lets us expand our offerings to include more voices, more sharing, as well as ‘at your fingertip’ access to audio, video, and print resources designed to inspire, affirm, and inform church leaders in their work.” Inviting site visitors to register and leave comments and ask questions, she continued, “The site also encourages conversation and community building between and among the ECF Vital Practices team and our readers.”
Donald V. Romanik, president of ECF, noted that the new website continues the organization’s commitment to congregational health and vitality. “For 15 years, the Episcopal Church Foundation and Vestry Papers have provided vestry members with spiritually grounded, practical resources to build healthy congregations in service to God’s mission,” he said. “ECF Vital Practices continues that commitment while using technology to respond to the needs of the changing church.”