Congregational Leadership Initiative for a Changing Church

October 7, 2019

Visioning and Planning, Church Leadership for a New Reality, Mobilizing Assets for Mission, Leading Change/Innovation, Effective Vestries, Attracting Families, Multi-cultural Engagement, Parish Finance and Administration, Church Pension Group Benefits, and Personal Financial Well-Being are some of the topics that were presented at the Episcopal Church Foundation’s (ECF) second Congregational Leadership Initiative (CLI) in September 2019 at Camp Allen. CLI, made possible by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc., is one component of ECF’s multi-faceted initiative to address the leadership and economic challenges facing clergy and their local faith communities.

As part of this year-long program, thirteen congregational teams from twelve dioceses across the Episcopal Church nominated by their bishops prepared pre-work and attended the three-day residential retreat at Camp Allen. The CLI program is a vital piece of the leadership programs offered by ECF. Congregational leaders come to CLI from all walks of life and are ready to learn how to lead their parishes in the face of many great struggles and changes.

The teams (rector, vestry member, and emerging lay leader) developed a “Next Steps” plan to take back to their congregations for refinement, buy-in, and implementation. Some of the “Next Steps” plans focus on: Visioning and planning and creating mission/vision/values statements, stewardship with mission/zero-based budgeting, developing a marketing plan for growth and attracting new members, parish hall debt reduction, and multi-cultural discernment.

The Rev. Virginia Tyler Smith, Rector, St. John’s Episcopal Church and Dean of Transitions, Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, had the following to say about attending CLI,

“Thank you for selecting me for the Congregational Leadership Initiative.
I was touched, informed and challenged by the other congregations and clergy I/we met. I have new ideas, and new tools, and best of all, new contacts. Thank you for making that possible.”

Upon leaving CLI the teams will receive eight months of professional coaching designed to help them navigate and address identified challenges and opportunities. Additionally, ECF will make available to the teams ongoing resources and continued opportunities for networking with other CLI participants.