ECF Vital Practices (www.ecfvp.org) is live!
Update: October 7, 2013
As children, we are taught to share. Yet, somewhere, deep in our nature is a fear of scarcity – a fear that can keep us from truly fully trusting Jesus when he said, ‘If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return.’ (Luke 6:38: CEV)
This month, our Vestry Papers articles share stories of individuals and congregations who have taken Jesus’ words to heart. These stories of generosity and wholehearted stewardship are offered as conversation starters for congregations interested in moving past a fear of scarcity and into a deeper relationship with God. When we allow the Spirit to take over our lives, it may, as Angela Emerson observes, [lead us] “in a direction that we would have never chosen for ourselves.”
We hope this month’s Vestry Papers articles inspire you to open yourself to exploring new directions:
Squash Tithe, by Nancy Moore, vicar of the Episcopal Churches of Piscataquis County in the Diocese of Maine and a substitute teacher in the local elementary school. Last December she agreed to serve on the Diocesan Finance Committee and was pleasantly surprised to discover that budget building can be spiritually rewarding.
Honest Sharing, by Angela Emerson, minister of stewardship development in the Diocese of Vermont. Actively involved with TENS, The Episcopal Network for Stewardship, she currently serves as a board member and blogs regularly for TENS.
God Had a Hand in This, by Luke Blount, staff writer and communications specialist in the Diocese of Texas. This article was originally published in the June 2013 issue of DioLog, the magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. It is reprinted with permission.
Crazy Wisdom, by Dan Edwards, bishop of the Diocese of Nevada. Learn more about him here and follow his blog. This article first appeared on The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) website as “Walk by Faith” on August 23, 2013. It is reprinted with permission.
September brings a different sort of energy, a different sense of time. There’s a renewed sense of urgency – the ‘lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer’ are behind us, replaced by a desire to get organized, to get on with things.
For many of our churches, September is the month we return to our regular worship schedule. Sunday school starts again, as do other programs as our churches adopt the rhythm of the school year.
September is also the time that many churches ramp up their annual campaigns. Congregational leaders look for inspiration, for ways to bring freshness and new ideas to their giving programs, often with the objective of raising more money than in years past.
In this issue of Vestry Papers, we embrace ‘wholehearted stewardship,” sharing stories and resources from congregations, dioceses, and individuals who have explored the question “what is keeping us from living into fundraising as a wholehearted ministry?”
Featured articles include:
Wholehearted Stewardship, by Erin Weber-Johnson, ECF capital campaign consultant since 2009. In addition to capital campaign consulting, Erin has facilitated diocesan and vestry retreats on annual stewardship, the development of a spiritual ethos for giving, and debt retirement. She holds a graduate degree in public administration from NYU.
Erin and her husband, Jered, previously served as missionaries of the Episcopal Church, based in Taiwan, and now live in St. Paul, MN where Jered is rector of St. John the Evangelist. Erin and Jered have two sons, Jude and Simon Henri, and are proud to call Minnesota home.
Spiritual Vitality, by Bill Nesbit who came to St. Charles Episcopal Church in St. Charles, Illinois in 2000 and his laughter has been heard through the building ever since. Starting out as a pharmacist with a heart for the church, Bill heard an angel say, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us" when he was a lay reader and finding himself answering "Here am I; send me," began the wonderful, terrifying, fascinating discernment that led him to the priesthood.
Doing More with Less, by the Rev. Eric H. F. Law, founder and executive director of the Kaleidoscope Institute, which offers resources and training for intercultural competency, congregational development and stewardship. He is also writes a weekly blog: The Sustainist-Spirituality for Sustainable Communities in a Networked World.
This article first appeared as a blog post on The Episcopal Network for Stewardship’s website and is reprinted with permission.
Libertating Stewardship, by Demi Prentiss, ministry developer for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. For 25 years she has worked in national, diocesan, and congregational settings equipping and supporting God’s people as they become intentional partners in God’s dream for the world. She lives with her husband and two dogs in Denton, Texas.
About ECF Vital Practices:
ECF Vital Practices is the online extension of Vestry Papers and is a brand new resource for Episcopal leaders.
Since 1995 ECF and Vestry Papers have provided vestry members with spiritually-grounded, practical resources to help vestries build healthy congregations in srvice to God's mission. ECF Vital Practices will build upon that heritage in new and innovative ways, reaching even more people who are dedicated to building healthy, vibrant, and vital congregations.
In addition to the Vestry Papers articles by experts and peers that our readers have come to expect, ECF Vital Practices will include practical tools for parish leaders, a lively blog where readers can share ideas and experiences, examples of congregational practices, and live chats with leaders, teachers, authors, and more. Additionally, ECF Vital Practices is edited by Nancy Davidge whose strong experience in church communications will help shape this new ministry.
ECF Vital Practices, free to everyone, offers us even more opportunities to create community among Episcopal leaders and foster learning about congregational issues not only among vestries and rectors, but also all lay people and clergy who lead congregations.