A Message to Leaders in the Church
The beginning of a new year is usually filled with energy, excitement and enthusiasm. While we are all relieved that 2020 is over and encouraged by the promise of the vaccine, we enter 2021 with uncertainty, anxiety and a sense of loss. For many of us the holidays were an incredibly lonely time, away from family and friends and unable to celebrate together in community. Each of us has been negatively impacted in some way by the turbulence of the past several months.
As we confront the reality of a long, hard winter, how can we look to the future with hope and even joy? I find comfort in the words from Psalm 121:
“The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; it is he who shall keep you safe. The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth for evermore.”
What I find most troubling about these trying times is that we have all been thrust into a world of unknowns, especially in the Church. How do we worship when we can’t be together? How can we be the Body of Christ when we are scattered? What new technologies and skills do we need to embrace and master, both now and in the future? How does the Church stay faithful, meaningful, and relevant?
The answer may lie, at least in part, in embracing change with open minds and hearts. I know this is not easy. As a technology-phobic person who thrives on in-person contacts, I had to get comfortable with Zoom overnight, back in March, to do my job and maintain contact with the world. But change also provides opportunities for considering new ideas, approaches and connections beyond what we may have thought about before. The realities of last year required ECF to look at our purpose, mission, and vision in new and creative ways. As an organization we needed to pivot, adapt, and refocus for a Church that will never be the same.
Please know that as church leaders, you are not alone. ECF is here to walk alongside you as you face both the challenges and opportunities of your ministry. We are your partners as you strive to be the Body of Christ and share the good news of the Gospel with renewed energy and spirit.
Yes, the road ahead will continue to have its challenges, but as followers of Jesus we face the future with hope and confidence.
Below, you will find resources to guide you in your ministry. I wish you all of God’s blessings in this new year.
Donald V. Romanik
President, Episcopal Church Foundation
ECF Vital Practices: provides relevant resources for the wider church throughout the year. Last year, the July and August Vestry Papers issue focused on racial justice and reconciliation. Other topics covered included Transformative Vestries, Telling our Story and Spiritual Wellbeing. Subscribe to ECFVP here
We also created a Racial Justice resource page with four sections Read, Watch, Listen and Act. This page is updated regularly with fresh voices and new ideas and includes multiple resources for groups, individuals, children and youth at varying levels of learning and comfort. Para recursos en español, siga estos enlaces: Leer, Ver, Escuchar, Actuar.
In partnership with FaithX, ECF launched the new Congregational Vitality Assessment Tool last September. Available at no cost and for immediate use this tool provides a congregation with an assessment of its Vitality and Sustainability. Learn more here.