Bishops United Against Gun Violence

orange sunday

 
St. Timothy’s honors Orange Sunday on the first Sunday in June again this year with our clergy wearing orange stoles to raise awareness about gun violence which needs and demands our fervent prayers and actions.
Orange Sunday is a new observance for the Episcopal Church and it is an outgrowth of the ministry of the group “Bishops United Against Gun Violence”.  Started by bishops in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Bishops United Against Gun Violence is a working group of 60+ bishops from across the country.  This group came together to speak out against gun violence and the loss of innocent life.
At St. Timothy’s this is also recognition that gun violence can happen anywhere in our own community and nationally. Two St. Timothy’s families have been directly affected by gun violence and their family members are buried in our Columbarium.
This Memorial Day weekend we will again remember in our prayers those affected by gun violence with orange vestments, orange remembrance ribbons, and a procession to our Columbarium after each service where we will pray for victims and perpetrators.
Here are some resources for you to pray with and ponder as we consider our duty, as Christians, to engage in this most critical issue.

Lessons of Church Decline and Renewal

The Episcopal Church is not the only mainline protestant denomination with declining membership.  It is a disease as common as the common cold. But it is going to take more than clever ads trying to attract disaffected Roman Catholics to get the church growing again.

But so far, the mainline churches have not found a remedy for the disease.  Is the church boring?  It is relevant in the lives of the faithful? These are questions being asked, but we know from greeting newcomers that there still is a yearning to find a way to have Christ in our lives.  We still feel the call of parents of young children seeking to  give them a solid Christian foundation upon which to grow and develop lifetime values.  We still feel the need for solace and renewal in the voice of one who has lost a spouse or child.  We hear the pleas of those who are lonely, sick, troubled, and adrift.  There is a yearning for spiritual healing, renewal, community and hope that can not be found anywhere else.  The job of the church and each of us as part of the Body of Christ is to give it to them! This is the mission of the church today and tomorrow as it has been for a millennium.

Stopping the decline in church membership and attendance is not about abandoning the values of the church or its caring for the faithful.  It is about finding news ways to connect with them, to reach out to them, to be with them in a world of constant change. It is making them feel loved not just welcomed.  It is asking them to help us not just show up and watch.  We become the Body of Christ by being busy doing God’s work not just sitting there each Sunday transferring body heat to the wood pews.

News reports surface regularly of more bad news about the decline in church membership, average Sunday attendance and participation.  The latest from the Southern Baptists with the message to quit denying reality and wake up, people! The story in the Baptist Press by Ed Stetzer is from a guy who knows a thing or two about church growth and church planting.  His prescription is a mixture of doing more of everything the Southern Baptists have done:

  1. A need for mission deo to get out there and do God’s work in the vineyard
  2. A need for diversity
  3. A need for a new generation
  4. A need for renewal in church planting.

The article is plaintive and sad because even though Stetzer is talking about growing the church his prescription is more recommendations on trying home remedies that have not yet cured his patient.  You can’t just go through the motions.

“We don’t change until the pain of staying the same grows greater than the pain of change. May the truth break our hearts, drive us to our knees and compel us into the mission.”

In an equally pessimistic blog post by Jay Vorhees, a pastor in a declining United Methodist congregation, he laments that each day he hopes for a kind of Lazarus miracle that will somehow result in the Holy spirit breathing new life into a failed body.  He says he tries to tell his congregation the truth but often they don’t want to hear it.

These two examples are part of the reason churches are ‘in a rut’ today.  We don’t want to come to church to be depressed.  These examples focus on the past not the future.  They see things that are bad not the joy in the church.  They relate to people in the ways of yesterday not the ways of today or the aspirations for a joyful tomorrow.  For them things happening are depressing.

The church is about joy!

Contrast these first two examples with a paper written by a young Presbyterian pastor on social media policies and his own experience when his congregation told him it would not buy him a smart phone.

“When I graduated from a Presbyterian seminary and took my first position as a part-time pastor in a small rural church, I expected my days of heavy social media use would soon end. Before I arrived, the congregation rejected my request for a smart-phone, and when I finally did move into my office I found a large stack of ancient cassette tapes on my desk. Surely my days of frequent networking on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs were over. Surely I would soon experience the loneliness many rural pastors feel, disconnected from their colleagues due to geography and lack of communication. But, to my surprise and joy, I was dead wrong.

Within a few months of beginning my time as pastor at a small rural church, I had found a supportive and very helpful community on Twitter with which I interacted daily. I explored Facebook groups and several online chat platforms with ministry colleagues. My blog became a valuable ministry tool for conversation and collaboration. Even a status update on Facebook could bring comments of support and encouragement (e.g. a book suggestion, a website recommendation, a word of caution or calm, even a prayer). I also found, to my surprise, that my congregation had a Facebook page of its own that I could update and use to connect to those in our community (Facebook, 2010). Furthermore, as I continued my practice of blogging on the church, ministry, and contemporary issues, as well as posting any sermons I preached, I slowly found that members of my congregation enjoyed reading my blog — and especially consulting the sermons they heard on Sunday mornings. Though they would rarely comment on posts online, many members have told me in person that they peruse my website often. In person, then, we discuss my blog posts or the comment of another read posted online.”

Do you feel the difference in tone and the sense of optimism rather than pessimism in the voice of Pastor Adam Copeland.  Maybe he was just young and not yet grounded in the ways of the established church.  Maybe he didn’t realize he was not supposed to adapt the technology and social media customs he acquired in college to his work as a pastor.

But a funny thing happened in a stogy old congregation resistant to change—-Adam connected with the people in the pews in ways they could scarcely have imagined.  He got to know them, and they him.  They bonded and worked together and prayed together—isn’t that what church is supposed to be about?

The technology did not change the church.  It changed the attitudes of the people about the value and meaning and potential of the church for their lives.  And that makes all the difference.

CHURCH2GO: Connecting the Body of Christ in an Episcopal Social Network

The long slow decline of mainline Protestant churches including our own Episcopal Church is forcing us to re-think how we do church, the root causes of that decline and how we can turn it around. In God’s creation nothing stands still.  Everything changes and grows or it slows down and dies. The church is not dying, but it is also not growing and thus not serving God’s purpose in our lives as it should.

Ritual and Renewal is Good but Not sufficient. We still celebrate the ritual and traditions of our faith, the feast days and celebrations of the church seasons and the spiritual power of our corporate worship when we gather together around the table as one family becoming the Body of Christ.  But the church is clearly losing something that enables it to be responsive the needs of the people in the pews, or not in the pews anymore!  We don’t have to give up on church, but we do have to keep it relevant in our lives and those of our kids.

This is the first of a series of thinking out loud posts about church vitality. The history and evolution of the church tells us the church itself was the center of community life in villages or neighborhoods as cities grew.  The church was also the center of family life for a long time.  But in our mobile lives today it is no longer the church buildings that center us.  Instead we need ways to stay connected to each other, stay involved in the ministries and causes we care about and our life together as the Body of Christ even though we are not physically in the pews. That is what social networks are doing in our business and personal lives.

In March I wrote in 20/20 Vision: What Role for Social Media about the power of social networks in our lives today.  These social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and others shrink our world by connect us in person-to-person ways we could scarcely imagine only a few years ago.  We are not making effective use of these tools and they are a powerful force for good in helping arrest the decline in the growth of the church by getting people engaged, involved and empowered doing God’s work.

Putting social networking to work for the church 

Perhaps the single most powerful thing the Diocese of California could do for church vitality today would be to create and nurture the growth of a social network to empower and connect its members .If we could get people in congregations connected together and then connect congregations together for each of our missions and ministries, programs and the institution of the church we could create a 2011 version of the parish hall.  A virtual combination of an Episcopal Facebook of members combined with an Episcopal Linked-In for the mission and ministry work of the church.

In our virtual parish hall we can hang out and talk with our friends and much more.  We can participate, do our mission and ministry work, collaborate and share ideas, offer our time and talent and connect with those who need them, do Bible study or be part of support groups tailored to our needs as part of “safe” place” we can always go to be at home together.

Imagining the church as a social network of the body of Christ does not, in the slightest, diminish the historic role or purpose of the church. We are merely adapting the technology of our lives to do the work of the church.  Our lives today are full of disruptive technology, mobility, going off to college, moving for a new job, joining the military, getting transferred, retiring, losing a loved one, feeling alone.  Each life event or change modifies the rhythms of our lives and at each life stage we need the love and support of the church and the entire body of Christ to live into God’s plan for us.

We’re learning from our experience with them that social networks do not isolate us or diminish our personal relationships—quite the opposite—they enrich them, intensify them and share them in ways we scarcely thought possible.  Making the church accessible, empowering and a place to be part of something exciting in the lives of people we care about and those far distant we can help.

I have God with me every day, everywhere—why can’t I take the church  too? 

Because the church grew from the congregations up, it is tough for us to transfer our communities and familial ties to the greater church as a top down organization.

It follows then that as the congregations and parishes of the church struggle, age, decline and fail so does the larger church. The church as the social place we use to connect to others has been superseded by social media, tweets, TXTs and real-time communications.

Here are real examples of the enabling power of social networking in our mission and ministry:

 

  • Making Youth Ministry Cool Again.  Is your congregation struggling to keep youth ministry exciting enough to attract the kids you want to serve?  Most parishes face this reality.  Maintaining a traditional approach to youth ministry is getting tougher and even large congregations have trouble getting a critical mass of kids at each age grouping to have a youth ministry programs that is active, exciting and cool enough to compete with the other options our kids have today.  It does not mean we should quit trying, but it does mean we should try different ways to meet the need.  Let’s face it, hiring a youth minister for the Diocese of California is not likely to be very effective when the need in the pews is spread across 80 congregations.  But those 80 congregations lack the critical mass of kids and can’t afford the resources to hire a full time youth minister.
  • Episcopal Charities Action Networks.  We learned a lot in the first round of action network grants for ministries in each of the six deaneries of the Diocese.  We learned that many congregations are supporting the same causes while others go wanting.  We learned that the needs are wider than the squeaky wheel of causes that we have known for years, still support but are going through the motions.  We also learned that the church process was too cumbersome, too long and didn’t focus enough on recruiting the faithful to many causes instead of the narrow-casting process of giving a small grant to one final winner.  Life does not work that way.  There is room at God’s table for many hands, many hearts a fire, and many mouths that need to e fed.  EC Action network is a good strategy we should perfect to be the Jobs Board of the Episcopal Church recruiting the faith to good causes.
  • Dougherty Valley Mission Collaboration As part of our 50th anniversary celebration St Timothy’s committed to planting a mission church to maintain its unbroken chain of faith begun when God called St Paul’s Walnut Creek through the Bishop to plant a mission congregation down the road in the San Ramon Valley.  Now we are working collaboratively with St. Clare’s and St. Bartholomew’s Livermore to identify the mission and ministry needs of a fast emerging new community in the 25,000 homes being developed in the Dougherty Valley area of SE Contra Costa and Southern Alameda Deaneries.  If we had a social network in place it would make it so much easier to spread the word to the congregations and the wider Diocesan community and use the ECN platform to introduce ourselves to the people of the Dougherty Valley.

From looking for new technology, new ideas, new ways to do church while not letting go of our tradition and ritual and history and joy at being part of the Body of Christ even if we tweet the good news, or invite a new friend to join us in a youth program by posting it on our Facebook wall.  At Pentecost we heard the Good News in many voices, many tongue and today we’re are trying to make every day Pentecost for someone seeking Christ in their lives and a way to connect to a faith community that can help them along that journey.

We need an Episcopal Social Network that helps us bring out the best in us, that informs us of new ways to serve and new needs that cry out for help, that empowers us to action rather than telling us to sit down and be quiet.  By putting us to work doing the work of the church, the church is doing more to enliven and enrich our spiritual lives than all the marketing brainpower on Madison Avenue.

We are the Episcopal Church but we need new tools and new ways to discover each other anew and to be connected as the Body of Christ in thousands of ways each day with tens of thousands of hands at work.  The church will grow when the joy in the hearts of the faithful grows from one simple act of kindness, faith and renewal multiplied like loaves and fishes thousands of times in the hearts of those we touch in God’s name.

Census 2010 clues for Growing the Church

Shield of the US Episcopal Church, colors from...
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A key issue facing the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of California and St. Timothy’s is the long, slow decline in the membership of the mainline Protestant religions. The Episcopal Church of the US has about 2 million members, down 3% or 50,000 members from 2008 to 2009.

Average Sunday Attendance in the Diocese of California has declined since 1988

In January 2000, parishes of the Diocese of California had average Sunday attendance of 10, 994 people and 9,686 pledge units.  By January 2011 average Sunday attendance (ASA) has fallen to 8,169 people and pledge units were down to 7,047.  Despite these declines, total Diocesan pledge income grew from $14.0 million in 2000 to $18.2 million in 2008 before the recession but since has fallen to $16.4 million in 2011.  The growth in the average pledge across the Diocese, just as at St. Timothy’s masked the big problem—the Episcopal Church is not growing!

If these trends of ASA decline of -3.3% per year and average pledge income decline of -2.6% per year continue, by 2020 ASA will fall to 6,096 people (down 45% from 2000), 5,259 pledge units (down 46% from 2000) and total expected pledges of $13.1 million (down 28% from 2008 and 6% lower than 2000 levels).

St. Timothy’s 20/20 Vision Goal is to Buck the Trend and Grow the Church

Our 20/20 Vision goals to be a welcoming parish open to all and to live into the mission work of the church by doubling the parish pledge base and participation by the year 2020 are serious challenges to these long term membership trends. To buck the trend requires that St. Timothy’s and other congregations reach out to the unchurched and underserved, collaborate with the Diocese and work with other congregations to attract the faithful in order to achieving the 20/20 Vision goals.

Growing the Church is one of the biggest challenges awaiting our new Rector.

The 2010 census results have profound implications for the church and powerfully align with the 20/20 Vision goals St. Timothy’s Vestry has set. In 2003 during the 50th anniversary year, the Vestry affirmed our unbroken chain of faith in the call in 1953 by Bishop Shires to ‘plant a mission congregation down the road in the San Ramon Valley. Rector Hodgkin of St. Paul’s Walnut Creek responded to that call and one month later formed St. Timothy’s mission and a Vicar was named. Surely God’s hand was at work in that speedy response to the call.

What does the 2010 Census mean for church growth?

  • Census 2010 tells the story of our growing cultural diversity. Our best opportunities for growth are to welcome our neighbors to worship with us. Both Hispanic and Asian segments of the population are the fastest growing over the past ten years and in California no one racial group will be the majority in our shared future. If the Episcopal Church is to grow it must find ways to welcome and incorporate people of many cultures here at home just as the church does across the Anglican Communion.
  • Census 2010 tells us our population is getting older, having fewer kids and Bay Area growth has slowed and not just because of the recession. The 5.4 percent Bay Area growth is the smallest net growth since the 1930’s. Oakland lost 2.2 percent of its population since 2000. Danville is the heart of the fastest growing county in the Bay Area. We should continue to be attractive as a place to live, work and worship especially with continued change in the demographic make-up of our market service area.
  • But Contra Costa County grew10.6%–faster than any of the nine Bay Area counties and is now the ninth largest county in California with over 1 million people out of a total Bay Area population of 7.15 million with a 5.4 percent growth since 2000.  San Francisco grew by 3.7 percent.
  • Who will serve the new growth in our Dougherty Valley backyard if not us?  Bishop Marc Andrus asked St. Timothy’s to work with St. Clare’s in Dublin Pleasanton and St. Bartholomew’s in Livermore to assess the mission and ministry needs of the Dougherty Valley area all three parishes serve. More than 25,000 homes will be built in the area and between our three churches we can welcome many families seeking a new parish home. Our job is to help them discover us.

St. Timothy’s is well positioned for growth. Our parish is in the “sweet spot” of growth in the nine county Bay Area and we have a solid, thriving parish foundation from which to grow for the future.  But we must have a social networking, communications and marketing strategy as diverse as the communities we have the opportunity to serve.

Episcopal Realities: Getting Back to Growth

Seal of the Diocese of California
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In March 2011 I wrote about the long decline in average Sunday attendance and membership in the mainline protestant religions.  It isn’t a new problem or one we face alone.  The Episcopal Church has been in a long slow decline since at least 1988 and so has the Diocese of California.

Our Declining Membership Challenge. At the beginning of the new millennium in 2000 the Diocese of California saw average Sunday attendance of 10,994 but by the beginning of 2011 it had dropped to 8,169 (-26%).  The problem was masked because despite the decline in pledge units from 9686 beginning 2000 to 7047 beginning 2011 pledge giving grew from $14.0 million in 2000 to $16.4 million in 2011 an increase of 17% as the average pledge grew from $1,442 to $2,332.  But if you project that declining attendance and falling pledge units forward and consider the changing demographics of a population growing older the numbers tell a very different story for the Episcopal Diocese of California.

Forecasting Today’s Decline Rate Forward to 2022.  By 2022 average Sunday attendance is forecast to decline to 5712 at its average -3.3% rate each year.  Pledge units will decline from 7210 in 2010 to 4928 in 2022.  And pledge income is forecast to fall to $12.4 million for the diocese in 2022 down from $16.9 million in 2010 even though the average pledge will grow to $2, 525 in 2022 from $2,316 in 2010.

Growing the Church from the Congregations Up

As a member of the Executive Council of the Diocese of California the realities we face are that we must find ways to grow average Sunday attendance, pledge units and average pledge size year over year not just to do the mission and ministry work of the church, but to afford the work we are doing today. The only way to arrest this decline is to help the congregations grow filling their pews with new faces, new pledge units, and new hands and hearts out doing the work of the church.

When the congregations thrive and grow, the entire church will grow again. No organization can successfully raise money, recruit priests or launch new programs when it is seen as being in decline or where the forecast is as sobering as losing 50% of your members and 25% of your income when you depend upon those members to sustain the work of the church.  We are not an aging church. We are a church struggling to be relevant in the lives of the faithful bombarded with competing demands on their time, talent and treasure.

We are not here just to offer service, we’re here to offer salvation, to offer a faith foundation for kids, a network of caring support for those in need.  We offer renewal and spiritual healing.  We pray for you and we will be there for you in time of need.  You are family and we love you just the way you are.

This is the message Jesus preached more than 2000 years ago and it is still true today.  Our mission and challenge is to open our doors and our hearts wide enough to let the light of Christ shine on our whole community beckoning them home.

Yet in our Diocese a growing number of our 80 congregations are struggling financially.  The smallest and weakest can no longer afford the cost of a single priest or struggle with the growing costs of deferred maintenance on buildings the congregation can no longer afford.  We need to find ways to hold up and sustain faith communities at whatever stage of their life journey.  That may mean freeing them from the chains of aging structures.  It may mean matching them with larger congregations willing to be partners in Christ with them and help them.  It means reaching out to the faithful and those seeking Christ in their lives and helping them find a place where they can be at home, at peace at one with Christ.

The answer for us is NOT to keep raising the Diocesan assessment which taxes the growing parishes by requiring them to pay 20% of their income over $62,000 per year to the diocese to make up the gap in income from the decline.  Doing so eats the seed corn of the church by diminishing the capacity of thriving congregations at a time when the church badly needs them to grow even faster.

The answer to is to broaden our pledge base by reaching out and attracting new members, making them feel welcome and at home on Sunday mornings and incorporating them meaningfully in the mission and ministry work of the church.  You can call it evangelism.  You can call it marketing.  You can call it anything you want as long as we find creative ways to break the cycle of decline and get back to growth.

This is not a problem Bishop Marc created nor can he solve it for us.  This decline has been going on since at least 1988 and the ravages of the recession are forcing us to face it.  It is not a problem that any single parish can solve alone.  The parishes need the common infrastructure and support system the Diocese can offer to help them build program and membership across the congregations, but each congregation must focus on growth as a key goal not just for themselves but for the whole church.

But by naming, framing, working together as a community of faith to address the issues we face honestly and prayerfully we can develop new ways to bring the Good News to people who love God and seek Christ in their lives—and in so doing get the church growing again.

How we do that is the question on the Diocesan table, at the deanery meetings and for every Vestry in every congregation.   Bishop Marc and the Diocesan staff can’t do this on their own.  It is going to take the joined hands of a thousand souls in the pews to make this work and with God’s help, it will.

There is much to be thankful for in our Diocese

  • New Clergy with Fresh Ideas across the Diocese. Over the past five year we have a large group of new rectors and clergy in the diocese bringing fresh ideas and new thinking to these issues, the challenge for the Bishop is to energize them and get them focused on enriching and enlivening each congregation they serve to create the conditions for growth.
  • Better Communications and Collaboration. The Diocese is focusing on new technology and new strategies to provide the infrastructure, support system the congregations need to become more efficient at communications, at stewardship, as community-building and ministering to the needs of the faithful.
  • Building Lay Leadership. We need to build he lay leadership across the Diocese and the deanery action plan is the start of a new strategy for leadership development and involvement of the congregations in the collaborative work of the church.
  • New Ways to Leverage our Outreach Ministry. Episcopal Charities Action Networks is a new approach to encourage collaboration across parishes on shared outreach and social service needs.  We’ve learned a lot in this first round but the architecture for parish collaboration is a work in progress that will only get better as more are involved.

The challenge for our shared future is to grow both in numbers and capacity but in our love for God and the work of the church.

Turning Our Stewardship Fears into Easter’s Sunrise

As my term as a member of the Executive Council for the Diocese of California began I was assigned to the Program and Budget Committee.  The job of P&B is to recommend a DioCal budget to the Executive Council, to coordinate efforts with the Department of Finance in forecasting expected Diocesan revenue, and recommend a balanced program of mission and ministry services that reflects the expected income we have to spend.

These are far from ordinary times in church finance.  I think we’ve done good work with the Bishop and Staff to understand the goals they seek to achieve in doing the mission and ministry work of the church.  We’ve also been doing heavy lifting in assessing the financial, budget and program risks we face as a faith community.  There will be less money to spend next year than this year, or last or the year before that.  The question is whether it will get worse before it gets better.

Based upon a realistic assessment of Diocesan revenue for 2012 we have recommended budget cuts totaling about $300,000 out of a total operating budget of a little less than $4 million.  This will result in a Diocesan assessment cap of about 17% for congregations on income more than $62,000.  If this recommendation is adopted this Fall it will be the third year in a row of declining revenue and thus smaller budgets.

There is a gut wrenching process of prayer and soul-searching going on in DioHouse to find the path to do God’s work effectively and prudently in the face of so many unmet needs.  At this ¼ point in the P&B marathon the preliminary conclusions we are considering are  uncomfortable but necessary based upon today’s estimates. BUT—-we worry that these reductions in proposed spending will not be enough by the time we get to convention this Fall.

Trying to catch a falling sword

Case in point, this week parish members at St. Timothy‘s Episcopal Church in Danville, CA received in the mail a letter from the wardens & vestry warning that at the end of the first quarter the parish has a projected year end deficit of $162,000 based upon pledges received, giving to date and a forecast of expenses. This represents 20% of the current parish budget at risk!  The plea to the congregation was to increase pledges and increase giving to close the deficit and avoid draining reserves, further cuts to staff or program. And worse, this is on top of pledge income reductions of more than $200,000 over the last two years as the recession hit our congregation hard.

You see the problem?

I suspect St. Timothy’s is not alone in this falling sword problem. The Diocese will feel the brunt of this reduced pledge income trend over the next several years because of the lag in the assessment formula. The cold truth is the budget we are about to recommend may be materially overestimating Diocesan income because of this falling sword problem across the congregations.

If I am right, we could also see more congregations asking for assessment relief next year than we expect today. We could also see congregations that are financially fragile pushed over the edge. If this is happening at St. Timothy’s then you know it must be happening across the Diocese. This is a frighteningly plausible risk to the Diocese that is too big to ignore.

What should we do?

It is obvious that the Diocese cannot increase its assessment on the congregations in the face of falling revenues in the parishes.  Unlike Jesus we cannot turn water into wine.  But neither does it mean that we give up on doing God’s work.  We may not be able to do everything, but we can do some things—-the most important things as well as our hands, hearts and treasure permit.  That is the focus on our prayers asking God’s help to find a way forward doing the work He wants us to do.

I believe God does not give us burdens he knows we cannot carry.  This long economic lent has encroached on our Easter but it cannot stop us from celebrating His resurrection and singing our alleluias. Our challenge is to pray and listen for God’s call guiding us on the choices we make.

So P&B will be taking this budget around this summer to the deaneries of the Diocese of California and talking honestly about our hopes and fears about the work of the church.  Our work in P&B is as much spiritual as it is financial.  We are praying for guidance about how to  focus on those things that have the most impact on church vitality, on meeting the needs of the poor, on supporting justice, on helping the homeless, hungry, sick and those in need.

The good news is turning over the rocks of our spending we are finding new ways to do old things better.  God is challenging bishop, staff and congregations to collaborate and share programs, ideas, time and talent as never before in area ministry.  We are thus reinventing the way the church does business without undermining the purpose of the church.

This process isn’t easy but it is holy because it is being undertaken in a sense of love, of service and of hope.  It is making the church more transparent and asking the faithful to get more involved.  It uses money where we get the biggest spiritual bang for the buck—if you will pardon this businessman’s lapse into bean-counting.  But in doing so it is also freeing us from the chains of ‘we’ve always done it that way’ to unleash new ways of thinking and doing the mission and ministry work of the church.

By the time the impacts of this recession have run their course we will, without doubt, be a smaller church in budget and resources.  But we will be a greater church in spirit, shared vision, in soulful prayer about the important work to be done in God’s name, and in the involved work of the faithful in doing that work ourselves because we will have walked this path together hand in hand singing our alleluias.

If that is God’s plan for us then it truly will be Easter.

DioCal Nominations are Open

Seeking nominations for the 162nd Diocesan Convention

The Nominating Committee is seeking nominations of qualified, responsible people who desire to serve God and this diocese. We continue to look for new leadership and for broad geographical representation from all deaneries. Please review the duties and responsibilities of these positions and prayerfully consider who might best qualify. Self-nominations are gladly accepted.

Please be sure your nominee understands the commitments of time and resources expected, and has agreed to be considered for the position. The 162nd Convention on October 22, 2011 will elect the following:

  • Standing Committee (1 clergy, 1 lay) plus the remainder of 1 vacated lay position;
  • Executive Council (2 positions, at least 1 lay);
  • Secretary of Convention; and
  • Treasurer of Diocese.

The position descriptions are available for download here and can be read on the DioCal website

(2011 Diocesan Convention under Nominations). The nomination form is available online here.

The deadline for nominations is July 17.