The Office of Mission Collaboration works in these areas:
- Building, Encouraging Communities of Practice
- Building, Encouraging Regional Collaboration among Parishes and Community Partners
- Congregational Life
- Regional conversations
- Closing Churches/Merging/Moving Congregations
- Mutual Responsibility and Interdependency in Christ (MRI)
- Strategic Planning/Missional Discernment and Visioning - Which may include review of:
- Revolving Loan Fund Applications
- Standing Committee Encumbrance and Alienations Consent review
- Missional Discernment and Visioning in regards to the Missionary Society
- Community Meetings/ Property Committee interface
- Deaneries/ Faith and Order Project Team
- Missional Experiments
- Provincial Convocation
The Canon for Mission Collaboration travels widely in our diocese and enjoys worshipping with different congregations each Sunday, Please call to schedule a Sunday morning visit.
The Episcopal Church in Connecticut
290 Pratt Street, Box 52
Meriden CT 06450
What is a Community of Practice?
- A Community of Practice is a fluid group of people who share the same interest and gather together for collegial support, training, the sharing of stories and best practices. Communities of Practice strengthen the practice of their individual participants. Leadership is informal and membership is fluid. Communities of Practice evolve as different needs and interests grow and shift and they may give birth to other Communities of Practice. The term “Community of Practice” was coined by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger in their 1991 book, Situated Learning (Lave & Wenger 1991), and Wenger then significantly expanded on the concept in his 1998 book, Communities of Practice (Wenger 1998). Some of the Communities of Practice in our diocese include those interested in Healing, Prison Ministry, Food Ministry, Environmental Stewardship, Global Women’s Mission and more. For more information on Communities of Practice, see an article here: (link)
Why the sudden emphasis on Collaboration?
- The desire for a flatter administrative profile at Diocesan offices (fewer programs being produced and rolled out from diocesan offices) and an interest in celebrating the gifts of our 168 parishes has created energy around the process of collaboration. The office of “Mission Collaboration” was created late in 2011 with the intent to facilitate the development of networks and Communities of Practice to strengthen our participation in God’s Mission across the diocese of Connecticut and beyond. The Office of Mission Collaboration is available to our congregations and communities to help facilitate this work and to serve as a resource.
Why does my congregation need a Strategic Plan?
- Participation in the Mission of God is the key emphasis for our 168 parishes of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. The Mission of God includes the worship, formation and pastoral care of our congregations as well as joining in our neighborhoods and across the globe to extend God’s healing grace and to be partners in seeking justice and peace. A Strategic Plan is a road map that makes this worship, formation and work intentional and God-centered. While rapidly shifting economic climates and reality can preclude long-term, certain planning, the exercise of discernment and discovery can identify gifts, priorities and shape congregational futures. Link here (link) for more information on Strategic Planning processes.
What is the Missional Church?
- The “Missional Church” movement in America was ignited with the 1998 publication of the book The Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America. This multi-authored book ( ed. Darrel Guder) offered an alternative to an internally focused model of church and challenged individuals to claim their identity as a people sent by God on a mission of hope and healing in the world. Today, the idea of the Missional Church has grown and congregations are finding new life and purpose in a shifting ecclesiological perspective. The Missional Chuch is not the next “program” for how to “do” or “be” Church. It is an orentation that leads us to new life in understanding Church as a vehicle for dissolving boundaries, for engaging the neighborhood and developing unity, for finding what God is up to outside of our sanctuaries and for affirming the holiness of our everyday lives. Watch a 2 minute video on the Missional Church or peruse a bibliography of works – books, more videos and articles.
What should my parish do if it wants to sell its rectory?
- The process of selling property (alienation) or buying properties and/or taking on leases or loans in the name of the church (encumbrance) is subject to the consent and approval of the Bishop and Standing Committee. (Canon 1.7.3) The process to seek their consent begins with an inquiry sent to the Standing Committee. There may be an additional conversation with the Canon for Mission Collaboration and Congregational Life and/or a site visit from the Property Committee to inform the process.
Who decides if a church is going to close?
- A church closing takes place in accordance with either Canon 1.13 or Canon 1.14 of our Church. A Canon 1.13 closing says that the Bishop, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee and upon the recommendation of Bishop and Diocesan Executive Committee can terminate the existence (with 6 months notice) of parishes receiving special assistance under Canon 1 Section 13 who have failed to live into a system of accountability as previously arranged between the Bishop and the parish. This refers to ‘aided’ parishes who have worked closely with the Bishops’ office to create a plan for the development of their life and ministry and have been unable to fulfill their agreement.
- A Canon 1 Section 14 closing applies to parishes that do not fall in the category of congregations described by Canon 1 Sec 13. The process for terminating or suspending these parochial organizations is:
- Approval by the Bishop and Standing Committee (including provisions for the valid transfer by the parish to the Missionary Society of the Diocese of CT of all right, title and interest of such parish to all property, real and personal, theretofore owned or controlled by it, and the valid and effective succession of said Society to all fiduciary rights and obligations of such parish.)
- A 2/3rd vote of the adult communicants in good standing entitled to vote present at a parish meeting legally warned for that purpose.
- Adults in the church are 16 years of age or more (Canon 1 Sec. 4)
- Communicants are those who have received Holy Communion at least three times in said church at least three times in the preceding year (Canon 1 Sec. 4)
- Those entitled to vote at any parish meeting are those who for at least 6 months prior to that meeting have been faithful attendants at the services of the Church in the Parish, unless for good cause prevented, faithful contributors to its support, and faithful in working, praying and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God; these facts to be determined in each case by the Vestry in accordance with the provisions of Section 8 of Canon 1 [Sec 8 refers to keeping a membership roll.] (from Canon 1 Section 6)
- View the entire closing churches procedure in our diocese as developed in 2013.
How can we get more young families to join our church?
- The phrase “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” was developed more than 60 years ago in an era when participation in a church community was not uncommon among Americans and the church worked hard at being welcoming and “attractional.” Today, fewer than 20% of Americans attend church and the projection for the future trends downward, still. While attracting young families in our communities is a desirable evangelistic goal, we cannot look to this demographic to secure the sustainability of our churches in business as we have always known it. Instead, our focus as Christians is on increasing in our formation, growing as disciples of Jesus and participating joyfully in God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation. A healthy and vibrant church is one that focuses on God’s mission and by virtue of its health and vitality draws others to it to join in the worship and work. Markers of Congregational Vitality were designed by the Mutual Responsibility and Interdependency in Christ (MRI) Project Team in 2012. They are linked to the Baptismal Covenant and are a good tool for study in congregations. You can find them here: (link)
- Exploring collaboration with neighboring Episcopal churches
- Exploring collaboration with ecumenical and interfaith partners
- Locating/beginning a Community of Practice
- Inquiring about selling/buying/leasing property
- Forming a strategic plan for a congregation
- Inquiring about creative collaboration with community partners
- Including building leasing/reuse
- Inquiring about strategies for churches that are struggling
- Wanting information about how to become a “Missional Church”
- Seeking financial coaching through Mutual Responsibility and Interdependency in Christ (MRI)
- Inquiring about diocesan funding for collaborative programming
- community meetings
- congregational financial coaching
- congregational strategic planning
- evangelism training
- missional experiments
- TENS (The Episcopal Network for Stewardship)