ECF Vital Practices January 2015: Vestry Leadership Articles

January 7, 2015

Welcome 2015!

For many congregations, January is the time for annual meetings and vestry elections. Changes in leadership teams bring opportunities to explore new ways of looking at the familiar challenges facing your congregation. As new vestries form, fresh perspectives emerge as the group begins their work together to discern what God is calling them to do.

To kick off the beginning of the new year, we invited experienced leaders from across our Church to share a leadership approach, experience, or strategy. Here are their stories:

Being in community brings both rewards and challenges. In “Leadership in Community: A Dance of Mutual Love,” Geoffrey Tristram, superior of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, explores the theology used to express and explain God’s divine, relational community. He invites us to see Jesus’ invitation into the divine dance of the Father, Son, and Spirit as a model for being with one another in our Christian communities.

In “On Being a Senior Warden,” Robert Harris shares some of his experiences as senior warden in two congregations. Having worked with a number of rectors with varying levels of experience and characteristics, his advice ranges from the value of being adaptable to the need to be ready for the unexpected and the importance of developing relationships of mutual trust and respect.

Sometimes we get stuck in our thinking. Potential solutions can be constrained by the ways we define the challenges we face. What would happen if we changed our definitions? “The Gifts of Holy Imagination” by Miguel Angel Escobar invites congregational leaders to consider ‘generative leadership;’ a model that challenges us to rethink the way we approach problem solving by opening up our thinking about the nature of the problem. He describes three practices congregational leaders can use to create an environment in which new, creative strategies are able to emerge.

Being part of a diverse congregation, Anna Olson is accustomed to ministering to people with a wide range of personalities, cultural backgrounds, work experiences, educational preparation, and familiarity with The Episcopal Church. In “Lift Every Voice,” Anna shares some of the strategies and practices the St. Mary’s vestry and congregation use to help people who might otherwise remain silent become more comfortable about adding their voice to the conversation or discussion.

These new Vestry Papers articles represent just a small portion of the resources available on the ECF Vital Practices’ website. Use the Topics index on each page of the site to find other resources related to serving on the vestry including past Vestry Papers articles, blog posts, and the many resources found in our Your Turn and Tools sections.

If you are interested in Spanish language content, please visit our searchable index of our Spanish content here.

As your congregation welcomes new vestry members this month, please remember to share this issue of Vestry Papers with them and to invite them to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices and Vestry Papers. Subscriptions are free; visit and click on the Subscribe tab on the upper right hand corner of this page. New subscribers are asked to fill out a short registration form to have Vestry Papers and ECF Vital Practices content delivered twice a month to your email inbox.