The Congregational Consultants are a group of knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated lay and ordained individuals from congregations throughout the diocese who serve other congregations.
The Congregational Consultants assist congregations in a variety of ways, including as facilitators at vestry retreats, in mutual ministry reviews, strategic planning and conflict management or as consultants on business, property and compliance issues.
The Congregational Consultants have a wide range of professional and other experience, including leadership roles in congregations as wardens, treasurers and vestry members; as members of diocesan committees; and professionally as accountants, architects, business consultants, educators, business and finance executives and lawyers, among others.
Congregational Consultants Services
Congregational Consultants work with congregations to promote congregational health and further their mission with direct assistance from consultants who have experience and training in areas that are critical to a congregation's vitality and viability. Examples of consulting services include:
• Appreciative inquiry
• Accounting matters, accounting software, parochial report preparation
• Conflict resolution
• Facilitation of vestry retreats and other leadership gatherings
• Guidance on organizational structure, responsibilities and leadership
• Mutual ministry reviews
• Pastoral care/companionship for parishes merging or closing
• Preparation of annual budgets and financial statements
• Property management, deferred maintenance, capital, etc.
• Short and long-range financial planning
• Sound business practices
• Strategic planning and visioning
• Transition review prior to calling a new rector or priest-in-charge
Development of Resources
Congregational Consultants work on diocesan initiatives to benefit congregations and have prepared and published guides, model policies and procedures, financial forms and other resources to assist congregations. These are available here.
Congregational Consultants offer training programs for congregational leaders, including the Business Practices Workshop offered each year in the spring at various locations within the diocese.
Congregational Consultants also have offered programs at Diocesan Resource Day and are available to meet with deaneries or groups of parish leaders to make presentations on specific topics.
During the pandemic, the consultants have developed a monthly curriculum of Zoom calls on topics of interest to congregational leaders. Notice of these calls appear in the diocesan FYI newsletter for clergy and leadership, and are posted on the diocesan website Events calendar. These calls are also recorded for subsequent viewing.
The Congregational Consultants always are looking for new members. Ideal candidates have parish leadership experience, professional credentials, a collegial work style and commitment to promote the mission of the church through healthy congregations. While the typical candidates tend to be older, younger candidates and those from diverse backgrounds and smaller congregations are especially needed and enthusiastically encouraged.
Requests for Service
Contribution for Services
Many of the consultants provide their services on a voluntary basis. In some circumstances, the diocese compensates consultants for unique or long-term assignments. Reimbursement for travel mileage is available for consultants who request it.
Congregations are encouraged to use the services of diocesan consultants, which are available at no cost. However, congregations, particularly those with the financial ability, are encouraged to consider the value of the services they receive and make an appropriate contribution that will support the costs of the program. These include training and meeting expenses, development of resources and the costs of staff involvement. The value of these services is considered to be approximately $50/hour. Transition reviews during a period of clergy transition in a parish are valued at approximately $150 in total. The suggested value of these services is well below fees for similar services provided in the open market by professional consultants.
Vestries and clergy willing to support the services of consultants are encouraged to request assistance with developing a fair compensation plan.
• Manual of Business Methods in Church Affairs: A comprehensive, user-friendly manual which supports the increasingly complex work of all treasurers and parish administrators. Includes forms, such as the Parochial Report Form, with instructions. Note: Chapters are updated individually. Check for revisions before using.
• Church Payroll Services: A payroll processing service is available at a price negotiated for the Episcopal Church.
• Church Insurance Company
• More publications from Church Pension Group, including ones on pensions and taxes: http://www.cpg.org/formspublications