pedrojperez • Morguefile.com

Parishes seeking to better articulate their needs and challenges have a new resource in starting the process of change.

The Episcopal Church Foundation has launched ECF First Step, a program aimed at helping parishes survey their needs, connect with ECF, and access additional resources to develop new strategies.

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“We’ve heard from parish leaders that it can be a challenge to either know where to … begin or prioritize resources,” said Erin Weber-Johnson, program director of strategic resources at ECF, via email. Weber-Johnson said ECF First Step can help parishes identify areas of the church that require additional support — such as strategic visioning, volunteer engagement, year-round stewardship, and planned giving — with guidance on resources related to these needs.

ECF tested the program with focus groups at this year’s Church Leadership Conference at Kanuga and the gathering of the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes (CEEP). “Both focus groups at Kanuga and CEEP were well attended and highly engaged,” Weber-Johnson said.

Part of what ECF learned in these focus groups was the value of involving three to four people in the ECF First Step process. “While an individual can successfully complete ECF First Step, participants in groups reflected that the information shared was an important benefit.”

Weber-Johnson said the ultimate goal of ECF First Step is to help parishes assess their most pressing needs at no cost, and for ECF to know how it can help.

“We want to help leaders asking the question ‘What is God calling us to be/do?’ to have the tools necessary to faithfully respond and live into their mission.”

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