I have a symbol of the sankofa bird in my home office that reminds me to both look back and keep my feet moving forward. This year we, as a nation, looked back to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the April 4, 1968 death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here in our Diocese, I participated in the interfaith rally on the National Mall, April 4, 2018, as a means of looking back. Moving forward comes through my volunteer work with the Diocese as chairperson for its Race and Social Justice Task Force. Let me give you a sense of my journey.
April 4, 1968, I was in the spring semester of my first-year at a college outside of Chicago. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. thrust our newly formed Black Student Association into action as foot soldiers for civil rights. As Chicago burned, we marched for equal/open housing in the all-white suburb where the college was located. In that environment, I was introduced to epithets like jungle bunny, the n-word, jigaboo, go back to Africa. To protect me, my birth family had said that only in the South could dogs “sic” Negroes, but at college I learned otherwise. Throughout my career I continued to be a foot soldier, both professionally in university settings and personally in the community. The election of our first Black President, Barack H. Obama, gave me hope that a part of King’s Dream had been realized. There was still work to be done, however, I was not clear how to pursue this work when retirement came.
How am I going to structure these 168 hours per week that are all mine? What am I being called to do now that I have more time than money? My discernment process was underway. When I asked my clergy friends how they came to be ordained, two words stood out: discernment and call. While on a pilgrimage in 2015 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the August 20, 1965 death of Jonathan Myrick Daniels in Hayneville, Alabama, I literally felt the call. At the time of this martyr’s death he was both an Episcopal seminarian and a civil rights activist. This 26-year-old white male died shielding a 17-year-old black female; both were in Alabama to register black voters. The call was clear: resume being a foot soldier, as a lay person, for race and social justice in the religious arena.
The mission of the Race and Social Justice Task Force is:
“Answering God’s call by building relationships across boundaries, advocating and educating for racial and social justice.”
Answering God’s call: Being a foot soldier in 2015, 50+ years later, means crossing more than race, black and white, boundaries. Relationships are a bridge to understanding, and like bridges, they must be built.
Building relationships across boundaries: In addition to the April 4, 2018 rally on the National Mall, I participated in the intergenerational March for Our Lives on March 24th to protest gun violence. Another boundary crossed has been to march with the Dreamers on March 5th for a Clean Dream Act. Many members of the Task Force are building relationships and seeking justice for sisters and brothers whose immigrant status makes them vulnerable.
Advocating and educating: Since October 2015, we have held seven “Seeing the Face of God in Each Other” anti-racism workshops, which have been completed by over 120 people from 28 parishes in our Diocese. Moving forward, we are preparing materials to help those interested in participating more fully in being a Sanctuary Diocese. As often as possible we facilitate ways to tell the truth, seek multiple means to repair the breach, all while practicing the way of love and proclaiming our dream of building the beloved community.
The Episcopal family that is the Diocese of Washington increasingly relies on electronic tools for communicating with each other, whether it be newsletters, websites, social media, or committee or group collaboration.
One of the most critical pieces of this jigsaw is email and collaboration tools, and as a Diocese we have standardized the Google Suite for Non-Profits platform. Currently over 70% (and growing) of our parishes are using Google Suite. Supported by Church House and Google support, more are adopting it each month.
To help strengthen the ability of all our leaders and staff to use this system, we are offering a series of webinars on the Google Suite tools, including using the Google Suite Admin Dashboard to manage users, mailboxes, groups, and settings for your domain, followed by sessions on Google Drive and Docs, Email and Groups, Calendar and other integrations with the Google Suite system.
The first webinar was on April 17 and had strong participation and some very encouraging feedback. As a number of staff and leaders said they couldn’t join the webinar, we are offering a second webinar on using the Google Suite Admin Dashboard on Tuesday, April 24 at 2:00 p.m. Please follow this link to register.
Other upcoming Google Suite webinars are listed on the EDOW website here. Join us for one or share this information with others who may find these useful.
“Like many high-profile leaders, Moses began to do too much. … It took the two brothers, Moses and Aaron, just to get the primary needs of the vision (Moses’ responsibility) and the community (Aaron’s responsibility) met. The first lesson in leadership was about sharing.” Susan Beaumont, from When Moses Meets Aaron
With all that others may do to assist, sometimes the best guidance and support comes from peers. One group that created its own peer-to-peer network is the Parish Administrators. They gather for lunch and short learning sessions, help orient each other to the role and frequently use their listserv. Here’s what they say about the value of this network.
The connection, the camaraderie, and everything has been awesome! … As a result, I can be confident of starting from a place of knowledge thanks to you all. Grace
As a new Parish Administrator, with years of non-profit management experience, church operations are so different and critical to people enjoying and being members of the church. While each church is unique … there are many similarities and more important, needs. Anita
Great resources, great advice, and colleagues who are walking in your shoes and completely understand the value of “sharing” information!! Tracy
It is very much a support group for difficult but rewarding jobs. Raiford
As a new P.A., and not of the church admin background, just reading the P.A. emails requesting information and guidance is useful to me. It’s a great learning tool. Thank you. Maya
A number of ministry peer groups benefit from these networking tools, including wardens, treasurers, youth ministry leaders and the Southern Maryland and Central Montgomery County clergy. You may be the only ministry leader in your parish, but there are others sharing the journey. Regional gatherings provide one opportunity for connection.
Have ideas or interest in other means of connecting? Please share these with a Diocesan staff or Council member.
Written by Kathleen Hall, Director of Human Resources and Administration.
An annual new year’s rite in churches and other nonprofit organizations is finalizing the operating budget
for the new year, closing the financial books for the year recently concluded, and planning the annual
audit of the financial statements for the previous year. Financial accountability is among the cardinal
virtues of the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church Canons require all parishes to conduct an
annual financial audit and to file the audit report with the diocese by September 1 of each year.
It’s not hard to see numerous practical benefits of annual financial audits: An annual financial audit is
normative in both nonprofit and business corporations and helps assure that inadvertent bookkeeping
errors not result in bad surprises. Independent review of financial matters provides real protection to the
reputation and integrity of parish leaders who are involved in financial matters. And an annual audit
assures contributors that the funds they contribute are properly used and accounted for.
The cost of an outside audit by a CPA—typically $3,000 to $5,000 for a small to mid-size
parish—represents a serious practical impediment. After all, in the Diocese of Washington, half of our
parishes have average attendance of 100 persons or less and annual pledge and plate revenue of $250,000
In traditional audit engagements, an independent CPA samples and tests financial records for accuracy
with the goal of rendering a formal opinion that the operating statement, balance sheet and other financial
statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position” of the church. The underlying
work to perform an audit is laborious and a CPA who issues an audit opinion has potential financial
exposure to third parties who rely on the audit opinion. These factors lead to the justifiably higher cost of
a traditional audit engagement.
Fortunately, the annual audit required by the canons does not have to be a traditional audit engagement by
an independent CPA. While a traditional audit engagement remains the “gold standard” for annual
financial audits, there are other alternatives that, in accordance with the canons, have been approved by
the Diocesan Finance Committee. These include an engagement of a CPA to perform “Agreed-Upon
Procedures” and a Committee Audit performed under the Manual of Business Methods in Church Affairs.
Numerous parishes in the Diocese of Washington have helped pilot canonical audits conducted under an
Agreed-Upon Procedures (AUP) engagement. In an AUP engagement, a CPA performs a more basic
review of a congregation’s financial statements, but devotes primary attention to the congregation’s
internal financial practices and controls. The deliverable in an AUP engagement is a report summarizing
findings and recommending actions to improve the congregation’s financial practices. The cost of an
AUP is less than the range noted above for audit engagements. At least as important, in practice we’ve
found the AUP to provide immediate practical value and benefit to congregations.
A Committee Audit performed under the methodology contained in the Manual is very similar to an AUP
– except that a committee of individuals from within the congregation carries out the process. A number
of congregations in the Diocese carry out a Committee Audit for another congregation, and vice-versa. The Manual is available online and Chapter VI details the methodology for Committee Audits.
If you have any questions or suggestions, or desire referrals, please contact Paul Cooney.
Accepting the call to serve as a parish warden is to walk in faith as a disciple of Jesus helping to nurture and grow what has been entrusted to you. Leading parishes alongside a rector varies by parish and is not the same as shared leadership in other not-for-profits.
With all that the Bishop, Canons and other Church House staff can do to support you, sometimes the best guidance and support comes from peers. One group that created its own network is the Parish Administrators. They gather for lunch and short learning sessions, help orient each other to the role and have a frequently used listserv. Here’s what they say about the value of this network.
The connection, the camaraderie, and everything has been awesome! Some very useful suggestions I’ve received and used are all your references on vendors and contractors … As a result, I can be confident of starting from a place of knowledge thanks to you all.
As a new Parish Administrator, with years of non-profit management experience, church operations are so different and critical to people enjoying and being members of the church. I find the listserv has so much knowledge and information. While each church is unique in how they serve parishioners, there are many similarities and more important, needs.
Great resources, great advice, and colleagues who are walking in your shoes and completely understand the value of “sharing” information!!
It is also very much a support group for difficult but rewarding jobs.
As a new P.A., and not of the church admin background, just reading the P.A. emails requesting information and guidance is useful to me. It’s a great learning tool. Thank you.
I encourage you to follow their lead and use the Wardens listserv as your connection to a peer group that understands your role, works to make being a Warden life-enriching and provides insights to meet your needs. A few Church House staff monitor the exchanges so that we may be helpful when appropriate. We also manage the list so it remains a Wardens tool. You may be the only Senior or Junior Warden in your parish, but there are many others sharing the journey.