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May 8, 2014 News

New Dreams/New Visions: Good News for the Church

In 2009, a small taskforce asked “How can we help small, vibrant churches scattered throughout the United States embrace a new vision? How can we offer a growing pool of experienced clergy a new dream for ministry in their retirement?”

ECF is pleased to release the Executive Summary and Final Report for the New Dreams/New Visions Pilot Project, an initiative that sought to address these questions from 2010 to 2012. The Executive Summary and Final Report are now complete and are available.

The New Dreams/New Visions Pilot Project noted that paying full-time clergy was one of the most difficult challenges facing many small congregations today and proposed that a solution might lie in the increasing number of retired clergy who are expressing interest in part-time ministry. Working with a targeted group of clergy and congregations over three-and-a-half years, the NDNV Pilot Project:

  • Developed models of support and care for congregations moving from full-time to part-time clergy
  • Sought out retired and retiring clergy and worked with them on new ways of serving a congregation
  • Learned that small congregations are often vibrant, faithful communities serving their area and proclaiming the love of God in Christ
  • Saw that with help and support, clergy and congregations can move from an old model of “being gathered around the minister” to “being gathered around the ministry”.

Finally, the NDNV Pilot Project tested a variety of ministry tools and found them to be helpful to diocesan staff, clergy and congregational leaders in addressing these issues.

NDNV could not have happened without the financial support of dioceses and organizations that recognized the need for a coordinated approach to serving small congregations transitioning to part-time clergy leadership. We are grateful to the Episcopal dioceses of Delaware, Eastern Michigan, Long Island, Maine, and Vermont; our pilot dioceses; and the Office for Transition Ministry of the Episcopal Church, the Roanridge Foundation, Church Pension Group, and Transition Ministry Conference for providing the financial resources needed to complete the NDNV Pilot Project.

We give thanks also for the vision and commitment of the NDNV Coordinating Committee: Mr. Donald Romanik and Canon Jill Mathis, co-chairs; and the Rev. Thaddeus Bennett, the Rev. Pat Coller, the Rev. Victoria Duncan, the Rev. Mike Ehmer, The Rev. Laura Queen, Ms. Lynn Schmissrauter, the Rev. Matthew Stockard, and the Rev. Walter Taylor, members.

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