Work Group Reports — Finance Team

Gary Allman One-minute read.   Resources

Diocesan Treasurer, Caleb Cordonnier reports on the work of the Finance Team at the Diocesan Gathering Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The key work of the Finance Team has been the review of the diocesan budget — more generally referred to as The Plan for Ministry.

However, in addition to reviewing what is being spent the team is also looking at how funds are raised. In particular, the team has been reviewing the Project Resource 2 initiative from the Episcopal Church Foundation and the College of Bishops. At the Diocesan Gathering, Fr. John Spicer (St. Andrew’s Kansas City) and Mark Gallus (Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City) discussed new approaches to raising diocesan funds.

Mark Galus and Fr. John Spicer report on the work of the Finance Team Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

Project Resource provides the tools to inspire radical generosity and engage faith communities in this life-changing work. Project Resource is an initiative:

  • adapted to enable an entirely new culture in all aspects of financial development: spiritual, organizational, and managerial.
  • designed to train leaders how to return to their diocese to lead others within the diocese’s culture, geography, and cultural realities as they develop leaders and raise money.
  • configured to teach effective use of model documents archived online for easy teaching access.

Project Resource provides teaching, focus, and resources such that a team may return to their diocese equipped to teach and lead locally in areas of resource development. Project Resource does this by:

  • gathering the best resources, which not only deal with raising money, but which gets at societal shifts, organizational change, and leadership challenges.
  • providing diocesan teams time to interpret the content, session by session, within the realities and particularities of their own diocesan, cultural, and regional situations.
  • Empowering each team to leave with a working plan, with measurable objectives, tailored specifically for their own diocese.

Project Resource seeks to change churches’ culture and systems around financial development in the worldwide Episcopal Church. It seeks to instill and install effective financial development in diocesan teams of leadership.

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri.

Work Group Reports — Goals Team

The Goals Team presents their work at the Diocesan Gathering. Fr. Chas Marks at the microphone. Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The Goals Working Team of the Diocesan Council emerged from the Council’s retreat in January 2017. There we worked together to find specific principles that would guide us in restructuring the Diocese of West Missouri so that we might more effectively pursue the mission of the Church in West Missouri to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

Out of that retreat came four “tests for success” for diocesan programs.

  1. Do they empower parishes to fulfill their part of our mission and ministry?
  2. Do they help make the Diocese more a parish of the whole?
  3. Do they direct our resources more outward than inward?
  4. Do they allow the Bishop to be more of a bishop than a CEO?

It is the Goals Team’s task to come up with some specific goals for the diocese as a whole that are consistent with both our mission as a church and the tests for success. Under the chairmanship of Fr. Chas Marks, we have met many times in person and remotely over the past year (about once a month).

Our Bishop has rightly said that a diocese is a “parish of the whole”. It is Episcopal membership of the diocese which makes the churches the local delivery points of the diocesan missions and ministries. If the churches are going to be the ‘hands and feet’ of our diocese, then they need to be coordinated and empowered to work successfully in their particular mission field. And for that, the Goals Team agrees that assessment relief is essential for our churches to be able to think beyond their current financial limitations. With the recent Diocesan Convention asking for a “significant and meaningful” reduction in parochial assessments, the Goals Team’s work becomes even more important in determining what is most important for the common work of the diocese.

Because of the geographic distances between the people of the Diocese, finding ways to bring us closer together in collaboration and communion is absolutely crucial if we are to be more a parish of the whole. Technological developments are making it more possible for us to have remote meetings from the Diocesan office and St. John’s in Springfield. While the technology is being improved in Springfield, the Goals Team also believes that a remote location should be established in the Central Deanery. The more we can see each other face to face and talk to each other, the better we can plan together and work together.

The Goals Team also believes that we as a diocese should dream together of what it might look like for the people of The Diocese of West Missouri to come together for fellowship and communion (which is actually the same word in the New Testament).

When it comes to the outward directing of our resources, the Goals Team commends the substantial support which the diocese already extends to Nourish KC (formerly Episcopal Community Services) and the Council of Churches of the Ozarks. These two organizations do much to alleviate the physical and spiritual needs of the people they serve. And the Diocese’s $60,000 support should continue. At a time when Americans seem increasingly divided, the Goals Team believes that the work of the Diocesan Diversity and Reconciliation Commission should be supported by a paid staff position.

As for the 4th test of allowing the Bishop to focus less on the administrative work of the diocese, the Goals team agrees that the diocesan constitution and canons are long overdue for revision. We look forward to that work being undertaken in 2018.

We are grateful for the contributions of the members of the Goals Team, which includes members of the Diocesan Council, but is by no means limited to them. If you would like to participate in our work, or have any concerns, please feel free to contact Fr. Chas Marks

The Very Rev. David Kendrick, Southern Dean and Goals Working Team member.

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Work Group Reports — Metrics Team

The Metrics Team spotlights how Episcopal churches are changing and being challenged in West Missouri and analyses church and diocesan reports that highlight changes in priest deployment, number of churches, membership, attendance, and financial trends.

The Rev. Ted Estes and Amanda Perschall Five-minute read.   Resources

Work Group Reports — Metrics Team Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The Metrics team presented the following data through graphs, explanation, and dialogue during the November 2017 Convention.

Metrics Team members are: Mary Ellison, Fr. Ted Estes, Krista Heuett, Collin Larimore, Fr. Jerry Miller, Fr. Patrick Perkins, Amanda Perschall, David Powell, Thomas Rose, and Fr. Galen Snodgrass. Fr. Estes and Ms. Perschall are co-conveners of the group.

Priest Deployment – Graph 1

Priest deployment (graph 1) has changed significantly over the last 17 years. In 2000, there were 52 congregations and the majority of these churches (71% – 37 churches) were served by at least one full-time priest. Part-time priests served seven churches (14%). Eight churches were served in regional ministries (15%). By 2017, the number of churches has reduced to 48 with the deployment of priests shifting to about a third in each category. 15 churches are served by at least one full-time priest (31%). 18 churches are served by a part-time priest (38%). 15 churches are served by a regional ministry (31%). These shifts in deployment reflect a changing dynamic in how our churches are staffed and function.

During this same 17-year period, the diocese closed seven churches and opened three. Conventional thinking might suppose that the majority of churches closed were located in rural areas with shrinking populations. This is not the case. Four Kansas City Metropolitan Churches (Holy Spirit, Cambridge, St. John, & All Saints) and two Springfield suburban churches (Ascension & Good Shepherd) were closed. Only Trinity Church of Marshall is considered rural, although it has a population in excess of 14,000 and a four-year college. Three churches have been opened since 2000, St. Thomas a Becket, Cassville; St. Matthew, Ozark, and St. Mary Magdalene, Belton. The first two of these are in a regional ministry and the third is served by a part-time priest. Cassville is rural and the other two suburban.

Trends in Diocesan membership and finance are similar to those in The Episcopal Church (TEC). (the abbreviation TEC will be used to indicate The Episcopal Church, comprised of 110 dioceses). ASA (Average Sunday Attendance) is the average attendance over 52 Sundays for a church, diocese or the TEC. According to Episcopal Church Domestic Fast Facts 2016: TEC ASA has declined -11% and TEC Active Baptized Membership has declined -8% over the last five years. Episcopal Church Plate & Pledge Income 2011-2016 reports that TEC’s average pledge has increased +11% ($359) from $2,395 to $2,754 and the overall plate and pledge reported has increased +1% over the same five-years.

Trends for The Diocese of West Missouri from 2011 to 2016 show a -17% decline in ASA and Diocesan Active Baptized Membership shows a -12% decline. Diocesan Average Member Pledge shows an increase of +19% from $2,432 to $2,901 in the last five years. When compared to the -9% decrease in the total Diocesan Plate and Pledge from $7,552,159 to $6,881,371, the increase in average pledge suggests that there are fewer pledging units but that they have increased the amount they are pledging. However, the increase in average giving is not sufficient to maintain the total of plate offerings and pledges received five years ago.

The Metrics team surveyed 15 Bishop’s staff members regarding their job descriptions, Mission Statements, goals, objectives, priorities, methods of tracking progress, and other pertinent issues. The data collected have been shared with the Goals Team for use in developing goals and aligning activities and measures to assess progress toward those goals.

The Metrics team’s charge is to work closely with diocesan stakeholders in developing and implementing appropriate measures for the work of the diocese. The goal is to provide meaningful data that guides programming and provides assurance that resources, efforts of personnel, and funding at the diocesan level are targeted, effective, and prioritized in alignment with diocesan goals. The next stage of this work will focus on the goals established for the diocese in the current process.

Sources of Information include: Individual Parochial Reports 1998-2016, The Episcopal Church Annual 2000 & 2016, Domestic Fast Facts 2016 and Fast Facts Trends 2012-2016, Average Sunday Attendance by Province and Diocese 2006-2016, Baptized Members by Province and Diocese 2006-2016, Domestic Plate & Pledge Income 2011-2016, Average Pledge by Province and Diocese 2006-2016, and Staff Surveys.

The Rev. Ted Estes is associate rector of Grace Church, Carthage, member of Diocesan Council, and co-chair of the Metrics Team.
Amanda Perschall is an active member of Trinity Church, Lebanon, member of Diocesan Council, and co-chair of the Metrics Team.

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Work Group Reports — Tools Team

Channing Horner Five-minute read.   Resources

The charge to the Tools Team was to explore the most effective methods and tools to best advance programming and communications throughout the diocese, thereby ensuring that all parishes and congregations, independent of size and/or resources, will be able to have access to programming, information, and Christian formation. The goal is to give people the feeling that we are one “parish of the whole” by expanding our interests, experiences, information, and Christian formation to lead us to increased interaction within the diocese.

We began by listing pertinent existing instruments and programs within the diocese of which we were aware and then moved to listing possible additions or enhancements to those items that we believe could contribute to the desired feeling of oneness within the diocese.

We recognized that we are in the midst of a transition in the means of communication, which can seem chaotic at times. We also recognized that no single tool, in itself, will be adequate. Nevertheless, we believe that useful communication, in whatever format, has a consistent message, is timely, and is received at predictable intervals.

Current means of communications from the diocese to the churches is primarily electronic, with some churches producing print versions for members without electronic access. The other key communication route is what we came to call “organic” — serendipitous conversation, networking, and personal relationships.

Our recommendations began with the suggestion to rethink the ways we “do” Gathering/Convention, exploring alternatives to provide more opportunities for interpersonal interactions. Specifically, we recommend reinstating the hospitality room or some equivalent, as that is a means through which many friendships began. Having benefitted as a team from becoming better acquainted within a smaller group, we suggest that there be activities designed for small group interaction, possibly based on an overall theme. Finally, we urge scheduling that will encourage broad attendance, recognizing that job obligations often make weekday meetings impossible.

To enhance two-way communication, we believe it is important to review and encourage the people from each church who are registered to receive and disseminate the electronically distributed information. We also need a stronger emphasis on having the communications contact person (or another person) provide information back from the church to the diocese as a whole.

In terms of communication from the diocese to the local churches, we believe it would be beneficial to review the frequency at which the current communications are sent out, and the recipients are polled to determine, what actions they take to distribute and share this information. Questions need to be asked, as to what may be done to assist them further in sharing this information with their members. We also recommend that the recipients be polled on the content of the current communications so that the diocese ensures that the information sent out closely serves their, and their members’ needs.

The team’s opinion in advance of obtaining the feedback mentioned above is that it would be beneficial to provide a weekly diocesan bulletin, sent to at least the priest, the senior warden/bishop’s warden, the secretary/office manager, and the designated communications contact. That bulletin could include information about upcoming events and brief reports of past events.

The transition to Digital Faith has reached the limits of its expected adoption. We recommend further information be published on its capabilities in order to encourage further participation and so that all the churches may have an awareness of its potential.

As we move more thoroughly into electronic means of communication, we believe that all such instruments should be as readily navigable and user-friendly as possible. We also know that they need to recognize generational differences via format, style, and content while being streamlined, consolidated, and condensed. In all cases, they need to provide effective, user-friendly ways to contribute.

We strongly encourage consideration of our recommendations in planning wherever appropriate, be it at the diocesan level or locally.

Channing Horner is Senior Warden at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Maryville.

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