This time last year, many parishioners participated in a “climate audit”—a series of discussions about how we see St. Stephen’s past, present, and future. Dr. Jason Winkle of the organizational consulting firm WinkleCorp conducted a survey, led the discussions, and prepared a report of their findings: the Winkle Report. Our vestry was intentional enough to make responding to the report one of the given tasks of this interim. We will take this charge seriously. Before I (Rev. Mary speaking), accepted the call to become your interim rector, I had read the report. I was very impressed with the level of participation as a prelude to interim work. What we do with report will create trust and confidence as we build support for your desired future.
Vestry began implementing the report recommendations as they began work on the new website before I even arrived. Last month two members of the vestry, Kim Streeter and Linda Airhart, met with Dale Luchsinger, Ruth Itamura, and me to go over the report. We had a lively discussion. They are carrying on by talking with others and will report back to vestry. Please seek them out if you would like to talk more. Copies of the report are available from me or the office.
I’d like to speak briefly about one recommendation. In the area of Vision/Sustainable, WinkleCorp recommends research into the best practices of other Episcopal Churches. Good advice. I’d like to suggest that anyone who is out traveling and visits another church be intentional about bringing back good ideas. I’d also like to suggest the following websites, each of which have blogs or e-newsletters that share best practices. Here they are:
- The Alban institute: www.alban.org. Alban is an ecumenical organization that seeks “to develop strong congregational leaders who have the creativity, the endurance, and the joy to do the work needed to fulfill their congregation’s’ particular callings.” St. Stephen’s has many back issues of their periodical, Congregations, in the library. Their free weekly single-topic newsletter, which is only a few paragraphs long with a link to further reading, is excellent.
- Particularly for Episcopalians: www.ecfvp.org, “ECF Vital Practices offers vestry members and other people of faith resources and tools to respond to the changing needs of the Church. Building upon the spiritually grounded, practical Vestry Papers articles that have inspired and informed vestry members since 1995, Vital Practices uses the Internet to both expand its offering and its audience.” ECF is the Episcopal Church Foundation.
- Another one that I follow is from a single voice, the Rev. Tom Ehrich. Tom is an Episcopal priest who serves as a congregational development consultant. While I found him to be a bit more clerically centered (as opposed to a lay-clergy partnership, which is more my style), Tom is right on with the role of technology in ministry and the broader climate for ministry. His website is www.morningwalkmedia.com.
- The Acts 8 Moment, www.acts8moment.org, emerged from last summer’s General Convention and is an ongoing conversation among some emerging leaders about praying for and reimagining the Episcopal Church.
These are a few that I follow. I’d encourage you to check these out occasionally and subscribe if you’re interested. None of them disrespects your e-mail inbox or Facebook page with a flood of stuff. I encourage you to read and bring to the table practices and articles you find thought-provoking.