ECF Vital Practices: January 2016

January 13, 2016

Happy New Year!

For many the beginning of a new calendar year, represent an opportunity to start anew, to ‘reboot’ if you will, things that just aren’t working as they should. To kick off the new year, we invited experienced leaders from across our Church to share a leadership approach, experience, or strategy for refreshing or renewing a vestry or other leadership team. Here are their offerings:

  • Retreats can be an effective vehicle for renewing and refreshing a vestry. In “Come Away and Rest Awhile,” James Koester SSJE and R. Casey Shobe invite congregational leaders to consider a contemplative retreat as a vehicle for helping to transform vestry leadership away from “crunching numbers, going over the budget, and micromanaging administrative details, into becoming a body of deeply formed and faithful Christian leaders.
  • Team building is an important aspect of a vestry’s work; work that takes on more importance as a vestry welcomes new members and says ‘thank you’ to others. In “Why Team Building Matters” Kanuga’s Leslie Hartley offers timely tips and resources to assist with this important transition.
  • Effective teams need a safe and open work environment where all members can share their ideas, concerns, and hopes. In “Norms & Covenants: Tools to Strengthen Your Team” Nancy Davidge looks at how norms and covenants can help a vestry create that safe space.
  • The bishop’s committee or vestry in Spanish-speaking/bilingual congregations has unique challenges. In “Preparing Members for Vestry Service” Anna B. Lange-Soto mentions some and gives us advice on how to face and get past them. / In Spanish: El comité del obispo o la junta parroquial en las congregaciones hispanohablantes/bilingües tienen retos únicos. En “Preparación de los feligreses para servir en la junta parroquial” Anna B. Lange-Soto menciona algunos y nos da consejos para enfrentarlos y superarlos.

We encourage you to think about how the ideas presented in this and every issue might provide an impetus for evaluating and reflecting on what you might learn from the experiences of others. To help in your discernment, at the end of each article we offer a list of the resources related to the topic. If you have a resource you’d like to share, please email me at with the link or add it to the site using the Your Turn feature. If you are interested in Spanish language content, please visit our searchable index for our Spanish content here.

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Nancy Davidge
Editor of ECF Vital Practices