Committee supports small church ‘vitality’ strategy

July 30, 2003

Small churches are the heart of the Episcopal Church, comprising more than 60 percent of congregations. The Church in Small Communities legislative committee of General Convention took another step Tuesday night to support these congregations.

The committee will submit its recommendation for resolution A133, which offers a way for small congregations to measure their vitality and increase their ministry. The legislation directs the Office of Congregational Development and the Missioner for Rural and Small Communities to print, distribute and promote throughout the church the strategy, "Expanding Mission and Vitality in Small Congregations: A Framework Affirming and Strengthening the Ministry of Small Churches." The strategy "gives us a roadmap to follow," said the Rev. Ben Helmer of the Rural and Small Community Ministries Congregational Development Office. Based on this strategy, he hopes to build conferences, seminars and resources that can strengthen the ministry of all congregations, small and large.

Helmer said the Diocese of Springfield, in conjunction with his office, is hosting a consultation on small church strategy Oct. 13-15 and will explore ways to help congregations expand their mission and vitality.

The strategy includes a process of self-assessment for congregations, as well as discernment, local ownership of the process and development. The strategy includes a variety of resources from seminaries as well as other theological reflections on small congregations.

The legislation goes first before the House of Bishops.

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