Congregations Leading Change

July 3, 2019

The Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF), in collaboration with the Church Pension Group (CPG), hosted a third Congregational Leadership Initiative (formerly called Boot Camp in Phase I of ECF’s Lilly Endowment National Initiative) at Kanuga Camp and Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. The June conference follows two very successful pilot “Boot Camps” during 2016 and 2017 as part of ECF’s Initiative -- “From Economic Challenges to Transformational Opportunities.”

The Congregational Leadership Initiative (CLI) provides newer clergy or clergy moving into new rectorships or priest-in-charge positons and their lay leaders with support to help their congregation collaboratively address financial and leadership challenges. Rectors and congregations are nominated by their bishops to apply to ECF for CLI. The year-long program combines several elements including pre-work, a residential component, the development of a parish project, and eight months of team coaching.

CLI focuses on teaching each three-person parish team how to work collaboratively, while practically addressing the financial, leadership and strategic challenges in congregational life. In addition to cultivating networks of support, staff and consultants from ECF and CPG led workshops and presentations on topics such as visioning and planning, parish finance, asset management, adaptive leadership, stewardship and financial literacy. In a CLI panel entitled Leading Change both lay and clergy participants shared innovative ways of leading change in their contextually unique parishes. Among the participants was the Rev. Rachael Pettengill-Rasure from the Episcopal Church of our Savior in MA who explained how her small parish showed how they had truly lived into their mission by leading a wildly successful program called “Courageous Conversations” which brought people from all over the larger community into their small parish to talk honestly and openly about race, racism, and community bias.

As part of the program offerings in Phase II, the CLI experience seeks to build congregational vitality and growth by bringing teams together, encouraging strategic focus, providing access to practical resources, studying the impact of results and ensuring ongoing support for sustainability. CLI parish teams work to build stronger and more flexible toolkits that will enable them to collaboratively lead transformation, renewal, and positive change in their parishes and surrounding communities.
ECF President Donald Romanik remarks,

“We were incredibly impressed with the focus, commitment and energy of the [CLI- Kanuga] participants. ECF is so pleased to be able to provide tools and resources to a
group of lay and clergy leaders who appear ready, willing and able to transform their local faith communities and live out God’s mission in the world.”

Over ten congregational teams representing nine dioceses participated in the Kanuga CLI. ECF/CPG will hold a second CLI at Camp Allen in Texas in September 2019 with fourteen congregational teams representing thirteen dioceses.

For more information on ECF’s Lilly Endowment National Initiative: