A044 Develop Sustainable Congregational Revitalization Ministries

Final Status: Concurred as Substituted

Resolved, That the 81st General Convention, a people grounded in the resurrection and new life, and a conviction that the world needs the life-giving expression of the Gospel unique to The Episcopal Church; acknowledge and grieve the losses many of our faith communities and dioceses are facing, and the future we all face as a Church if the trends of decline and diminished capacity continue unabated; and be it further,

Resolved, That we recognize this is an urgent conversation already taking place at every level of our Church, and that the vitality of our congregations, faith communities, and whole Church must be named as a top priority requiring substantial time, governance, personnel, formation, and financial resources accordingly; and be it further

Resolved, That we recognize the unique mission context of each diocese and congregation, including indigenous and non-English speaking communities, and those outside the contiguous 48 states, and that vitality initiatives require local expertise, and significant attention and resources directed toward them; and be it further

Resolved, That the Presiding Bishop, President of the House of Deputies, Executive Council, House of Bishops and dioceses convene groups to wholeheartedly engage the church in God's mission and vitality to (1) collect data-driven information and resources useful to churches and dioceses considering redevelopment, including stories of success and failure, (2) identify any gaps in the information available and hurdles to redevelopment, (3) make recommendations on how to leverage existing church property and financial assets to further the work of mission and ministry, including congregational redevelopment, church planting, and evangelism, (4) establish and resource a group, network, or para-church organization that can assist in these efforts, (5) access and make available external resources that already exist for this work; and be it further

Resolved, That the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies invite leaders that represent the diversity of the Church and with experience in the development of church property, church planting, church revitalization, and entrepreneurial ministry, such as the Episcopal Church Building Fund, Trinity Wall Street Mission Real Estate and Development (MRED), Episcopal Parish Network, ecumenical partners, and others outside the Episcopal Church to be part of this work; and be it further

Resolved, That the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies identify groups to collect, evaluate, disseminate, and encourage the development of data-driven resources and best practices for church planting, church revitalization, church closures, and church assets; to work with other groups to publicize the availability of these resources to The Episcopal Church, its dioceses, and congregations; and to seek feedback regarding resources needed (and used) by the widest possible variety of groups within the Church; and be it further

Resolved, That the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies take personal responsibility for convening the bodies needed to begin this work, ensure that whenever the House of Bishops and the Executive Council meet that this most urgent concern is addressed, and direct the Executive Council to publish an annual report to the Church and present a full report to the 82nd General Convention on progress for the first triennium; and be it further

Resolved, That given this work is a top priority and necessitates significant redirection of resources, the 81st General Convention strongly urges the presiding officers to protect funds already allocated for congregational vitality and data-driven initiatives and if necessary, to, redirect funds from short-term reserves to carry forward this work.