Congregational Development Commission



The Congregational Development Commission (CDC) provides funds for programs that strengthen congregations, especially those that are field testing new programs/initiatives on behalf of the diocese, done in partnership with other churches, or are part of a plan to spur significant growth, expand ministry, etc. CDC meets on the first Tuesday of every month.

Mustard Seed or Vineyard Grants

The CDC announces an ongoing grant program available to all congregations in Rhode Island. Do you envision a program or new ministry to help develop your congregation into a more faithful and vibrant expression of the Body of Christ? Do you have plans for making your congregation more responsive to the local challenges and opportunities before you in your community? How about ideas for transformative collaborations with other congregations that fit with your unique mission or vision for ministry? CDC Mustard Seed or Vineyard grants offer your congregation the financial support to put your vision into action. You can read about past recipient programs here.

Apply now for a Mustard Seed or Vineyard grant.

Mustard Seed grants are for proposals up to $2000. These grants can be approved immediately by the CDC at its monthly meetings.

Vineyard grants are proposals over $2000 and require both CDC and Diocesan Council approval. The application review and approval time for the Vineyard grants is two-three months.

Application Process:

The link above will take you to (a Wufoo) form which will serve as your application. You will be asked to upload an income statement. The application and your statement will be reviewed by the Grants and Loans Committee and if applicable forwarded to CDC and then if over $2,000.00 the grant request will be forwarded to Diocesan Council. You may be asked for additional information before a decision can be made. Grants and Loans Committee meets every Monday.  CDC meets on the first Tuesday of every month. Diocesan Council meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month.

How2charist videos and discussion guide

How2charist: digital instructed Eucharist

An instructed Eucharist in digital format, available 24/7.    All of the How2charist videos for viewing on our diocesan video portal.  You can view individual “chapters” or the full-length video.

The Diocese of Rhode Island was one of many sponsoring organizations and individuals who helped fund the project so it would be available to the whole Church for free. A Spanish-language version featuring native Spanish-speakers is currently in production.

How2charist Discussion Guide – black and white (easier photocopying)

How2charist Discussion Guide – full color

The How2charist project website. You can download your own copies of the videos for use in your parish by supplying an email address.


Healthy Eating

Churches can help its members and members of their community improve their eating habits by offering programs, education and support. Here are some to consider:

Mindful Eating

Americans tend to eat mindlessly. We are unaware of tastes and smells and textures as we focus on conversation or television or reading material. Mindful Eating gives an opportunity to slow down and experience dining in a very conscious way. Eating can become a joyous and spiritual experience as we develop a healthy relationship to food.

Mindful Eating is based on the Buddhist tradition of focusing, of being very conscious of whatever activity one is engaged in. It is developed for use with a group of parishioners who are self-selected. If you have had a program on food, diet or exercise, you might want to use this as a follow-up. It is also very appropriate for use during Lent and Advent.

DOWNLOAD Mindful Eating Program

Portion Plate

The Portion Plate is a portion control dietary program that promotes a balanced, nutritional approach to meal planning. Recent scientific studies show that nearly 60% of Americans are overweight, and that one of the main reasons for this growing epidemic of obesity is that we simply eat too much food. To help curb that trend, Episcopal Retirement Homes’ (ERH) Parish Health Ministry offers The Portion Plate program customized for congregational use.

  • Participants sign up and pay a $10.00 participation fee to take the Portion Plate pledge. This enables the individual to receive a fun, portion-controlled plate, corresponding educational placemat, as well as a pledge log and daily meditations.
  • By taking The Portion Plate pledge, participants commit to using their plate during at least one meal per day (lunch or dinner) for a two-week period. They will record their use of the plate on the pledge log. Participants will also have the option of focusing on other health behaviors, such as daily exercise and water consumption, by using the personal goals checklist.

Portion Plate Program Packet includes implementation materials (program overview, implementation guidelines, sign-in sheet and program evaluation form), promotional materials (sample bulletin announcement, sample newsletter article, flier/poster, spiritual support materials, and Healthy Thoughts bulletin insert), and participant materials (participant guidelines, pledge log sheet, participant evaluation form, personal goals checklist, daily meditation, top 10 portion tips). $ 50 for the program

Portion Plate Kit for each participant (includes a plate & placemat) — $ 10 each plus shipping
Call (513) 272-5555 ext. 4285 or 1-800-835-5768

Learn more at: Episcopal Retirement Services


Just Eating

Just Eating is a free seven-session program on the relationship between our faith and our food by the Presbyterian Hunger Commission includes a Middle School Curriculum and a Leader’s Guide and Participant Guide for adults, teens or intergenerational use.

“The curriculum explores how practicing our faith is foundational to meaningful and healthy living, for ourselves, for the earth and for others in the world.  In particular, the program asks us to consider how eating—one of the most basic human activities—is an invitation to experience God and to journey with others in the world.”

Available as a free download from LeaderResources by clicking on the links above or from our site by clicking on the links below:

Just Eating Leader’s Guide
Just_Eating_Participant Guide





Safe Church

Safe Church, Safe Communities

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Rhode Island recognize the potential for harm when a priest, lay employee or volunteer engages in sexual exploitation, harassment or abuse in one of our churches or institutions. Thus, we, like most Episcopal dioceses, offer training and resources that include suggestions for safe ways of interacting with children, youth and adults in the church.

We also provide “Intake Officers” who are trained to receive any allegations or concerns. Email to ask for a conversation with one of the Intake Officers.

Click Here for Audit Form

Safe Church Training

There are no in person trainings scheduled at this moment. You may look below for the Online Training Steps form to start your online training.




Diocesan Safe Church Trainers will conduct this important training in-person for lay leaders and church staff on Saturday, November 11, 2023, at St. John’s in Barrington with check in starting at 8:30am and program starting promptly at 9am to 1pm. Coffee and snacks will be provided.

Safe Church Training is a required certification program for clergy, all licensed lay ministers including Licensed Eucharistic Visitors, vestry/bishop’s committee members, employees, and those who volunteer in programs for children and youth. This training is also recommended for all lay people in leadership positions. The program is grounded in our call to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being. The clergy and vestries of each individual church are responsible for oversight of their parishioners and staff who need to take the training.

Contact your parish priest or parish administrator for access to the training or access the training using the steps below. Safe Church, Safe Communities training is offered primarily as an online program.  In-person trainings are scheduled occasionally at locations around the diocese. Watch for notices in the diocesan e-newsletter or speak to diocesan administrator Mary Ann Mello to learn when the next in-person training will be held. 

If you need help setting up a Safe Church, Safe Community Program in your church or to revitalize your current program, please contact Mary Ann Mello at

The National Church has updated training requirements and courses as of May 31, 2022. Please check below for new course requirements and screening recommendations.

Please look at the Screening Recommendation Chart for who needs Safe Church training and other requirements:
Screening Expectations Per Role

Please look at the Course Selection Chart to find the courses you need to take for your role:
Safe Church Training Courses per Role

To start your online training:

Step 1: Use this information to enroll and begin your online training:
1. Go to:
2. Fill in your contact information including First Name, Last Name, Email Address, and desired Password.
3. Enter the appropriate registration code for your organization. Find your code HERE
4. Click Validate to confirm registration code. (if you do not see your church, enter your church’s name in the search bar)
5. Click the checkbox to agree to the Terms & Conditions.
6. Click Redeem.
7. Write down your user login and password for future reference.
8. Answer the Registration Questions about your status and role within the organization.
9. Click Save & Continue.
10. To begin taking training immediately, scroll down and click a course to start the content.

Step 2: Use this information to log in:
1. Go to log in page
2. Enter your login and password.
3. Click LOGIN button.
4. On the next page, scroll down the page a bit until you see the courses listed.
5. Click the title of the course to open and view it.

If you are new to your role and the first time taking Safe Church, Safe Communities, please click
this Online Training Course Chart for the courses to complete for training.

To Renew Your Safe Church Training:

Every three years the Diocese of Rhode Island requires that your Safe Church Training to be renewed. You may renew your training by taking an in-person training being offered or take the five universal courses online:
Safe Church, Safe Communities: Introduction & Theological Background
Safe Church, Safe Communities: Organizational Rule & Policies
Safe Church, Safe Communities: Healthy Boundaries
Safe Church, Safe Communities: Inclusion
Duty to Report: Mandated Reporter




Mandated Reporting

All persons in Rhode Island are required by law (RIGL 40-11-3) to report known or suspected
cases of child abuse and/or neglect to the Department within 24 hours of becoming aware of such
abuse/neglect. Reports of abuse and neglect originate from several sources including the public,
courts, hospitals, police departments, parents, and relatives as well as other sources.

Child Protective Service-Rhode Island

CPS operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Investigators receive and screen reports of
suspected abuse and neglect on the Department’s hotline 1-800-RI-CHILD (1-800-742-4453)
and conduct associated investigations, as needed.

Abuse and Elder Law Information Resources

Rhode Island law requires any person who has reasonable cause to believe that an elderly
person has been abused to report it to the Office of Healthy Aging (OHA). Failure to
report abuse of a person 60 or older can result in a fine of up to $1,000. Report suspicion
of Elder Abuse and Self Neglect to OHA 401-462-0555.
If a Senior needs help getting out of an abusive home contact the Saint Elizabeth’ s Haven
for Elder Justice Program 401-739-2844 x36

Reporting an incident of misconduct

To report an incident of misconduct by a lay volunteer or church employee in a parish, in addition to contacting any relevant civil authorities, please contact the priest of the parish.

To report an allegation of  misconduct by a clergy person, in addition to contacting any relevant civil authorities (if this constitutes an illegal action), please contact either of the diocesan Intake Officers, who are responsible for beginning the Church’s own investigation process, or contact the Canon to the Ordinary.

Email to ask for a conversation with one of the Intake Officers.

You may also contact The Rev. Canon Dena Cleaver-Bartholomew, Canon to the Ordinary at or call 401-274-4500 or 401-480-8651 (cell). She serves as the Case Manager and will refer your case to one of the Intake Officers.

Forward Movement

Best known for Forward Day by Day, a daily devotion providing meditations on scripture readings, Forward Movement continues to build on its history of encouraging discipleship and evangelism.  In the past it was mostly known for its brochures along with the Forward Day by Day meditation booklet. Today they offer books and ebooks for small groups, individual study, and prayer, Christian formation courses, leadership events, Spanish and bilingual resources, pamphlets, downloadable resources, a daily podcast, apps for your smartphones or tablets, and online engagement opportunities.

Church Publishing

Church Publishing is the foundational imprint owned by the Church Pension Group (which provides pensions for clergy and lay employees of our churches). Launched as the Church Hymnal Corporation, the original church publishing house was dedicated to publishing a single work, The Hymnal 1918, which remains in print to this day.

In the nearly 100 years since its first publication, Church Publishing has emerged as an important provider of liturgical and musical resources for The Episcopal Church, along with works on church leadership, pastoral care and Christian formation. With its growing portfolio of professional books and resources, Church Publishing is recognized as the official publisher for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States and publishes documents authorized by the General Convention. Through the years, Church Publishing has consciously broadened its program, reach, and service to the church by publishing books for and about the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Morehouse Publishing was independently founded in 1884 and specializes in works for laity, “the people in the pews.” Like Church Publishing, Morehouse serves The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, but the Morehouse program also reaches out to the broader Christian community with works designed to provide spiritual enrichment and practical guidance to people from all walks of faith. Morehouse seeks to expand and deepen the Church’s ministry by publishing leading-edge titles in genres including faith and spirituality, women’s issues, youth, and family.

Seabury Books is our “trade” imprint, targeting the retail book market at large. Seabury titles reflect the rich and diverse world of religious belief, thought, theory and application. Seabury Books publishes fresh, new works and classic titles for general readers, professionals, students, and scholars, from the viewpoints of many faith traditions. The Seabury Books imprint has become a progressive, ecumenical trade imprint, publishing a rich and diverse list of thought-provoking books in areas including theology, ethics, culture and society, Scripture, and homiletics.

Morehouse Church Supplies (MCS) provides a single-source solution for securing high quality church-related products in many categories. While the Episcopal Church is its largest customer group, MCS also caters to parishes, congregations, church schools, and professionals from many denominations.

Product lines include Episcopal gifts, jewelry, certificates, stationery, and others. Parish registers and forms are also in the product mix as well as items for individual and corporate worship and prayer, including lectionary bulletins, and annual planning calendars.

Morehouse Education Resources (MER) is the CPI division publishing exciting Christian formation and curriculum programs such as Living the Good NewsGodly Play®, and Weaving God’s Promises. Some MER programs are specific to The Episcopal Church (Weaving God’s Promises) while others, like Godly Play®, are ecumenically focused.

Church Publishing Incorporated is also a provider of useful and relevant online and downloadable e-Products for use in worship planning and other ministries. Examples of these important resources include The Rite Stuffritebrainritesongriteworship, and Preparing for Sunday. The diocese pays for a license for the ritesong for all of our churches so they are able to use music, print lyrics in their bulletins, etc.

Seasonal Resources

Many congregations offer special educational programs that match the liturgical season. Advent, Lent and Holy Week/Easter are the most common but some churches also offer summer programs that focus on Pentecost and liven up the mid-winter time with special Epiphany programs. Here are places where you can find seasonal resources:

  • The BuildFaith website has a seasonal resources section
  • Forward Movement offers resources which are also reviewed on the Build Faith website
  • Each age category on the LeaderResources * website has a seasonal resources section
  • The Episcopal Church’s has free downloadable seasonal lesson on its Lesson Plans that Work website
  • Church Publishing has a variety of seasonal resources (you need to type the season into their search field to find them)


*Resources published by LeaderResources (vs. those sold for other publishers) are available to Episcopal churches in Rhode Island for a discount you choose — 25%, 50%, 75% or free. Contact Mary Ann Mello for information on how to order or call 800-941-2218 for more information.

Choosing Curriculum


Guidance for how to choose a curricula for your church can be found on Building Faith. Some of the more commonly used curricula are listed below.


  • Lesson Plans that Work – free, downloadable lesson plans on the Gospel reading for each Sunday for young children (intended for non-readers), older children (grade school age children) and adults. Also lesson plans on the Old Testament readings for younger and older children.
  • Short courses and Vacation Bible School Discounted pricing for RI Episcopal churches; (see footnote)
  • Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to the religious formation of children. It is rooted in the Bible, the liturgy of the church, and the educational principles of Maria Montessori.
  • Episcopal Children’s Curriculum extends over nine years for children from ages 3 to 11. Lessons are organized around the seasons of the Church year and draw from The Bible, The Book of Common Prayer, the hymnal, church liturgy and tradition. ECC lesson plans include tips for adapting sessions to small and large class sizes and offer a variety of fun activities that help children grasp important concepts. (free download)
  • Godly Play is a formative program that invites children to walk around inside the faith, its stories, traditions and favorite characters and find themselves and their own stories nestled and active there. The child is invited to respond directly to what he or she has experienced in the ‘story.’
  • Keeping the Promise – A mentoring program for confirmation that is meant to be a mutual exploration of the life of faith: major points: bible, sacraments, spiritual life, the Church, ministry, turning points in life.
  • Living the Good News – Lectionary-based curriculum designed to help children be at home in the church and with its basic teachings. I Will With God’s Help, a confirmation curriculum, is part of this series and builds on the baptismal covenant, beginning with the creed and devoting the next five sessions to the 5 questions.
  • Workshop Cycles – Children (grades K-5) work on a single Bible story or concept for several weeks using a different approach each week (storytelling, drama, cooking, crafts/arts, computer use), each facilitated by a different person according to his/her skills and interest. Discounted pricing for RI Episcopal churches; (see footnote)
  • Seasons of the Spirit – A curriculum which includes ritual, music, visual art, meditation and tangible exploration of the living word. The vision of this program is to provide God’s people with lectionary-based, ecumenical resources that empower all ages to be transformed in Christ as they: explore meaning and mystery in the Bible; celebrate in worship, sacraments, education, and service; engage in ministries of love, justice, and witness; and live in inclusive communities of faith, shaped and led by the Holy Spirit.
  • Holy Moly – Lessons follow a four-part sequence: Discover, Relate, Connect, and Create. Each week, kids watch an animated Bible story video, talk about the story, read their Bible Storybook or Bible, and complete a creative activity. Resources are available for kindergarten through grade 4, by unit or as digital lessons and online subscription. (Evangelical Lutheran Church)
  • Godly Journey: The Early Church, Paul’s Journey’s and How We Can Join the Adventure is a one or two year adventure for older children or younger teens and works well as an intergenerational program that’s especially attractive to men and boys. Godly Journey invites participants into the life of the early church and introduces them to Christians who helped spread Christianity. Discounted pricing for RI Episcopal churches; (see footnote)


  • Conversations with Scripture – a series of books on each book of the Bible
  • The Journey to Adulthood (J2A) is a complete youth ministry program of spiritual formation for 6th – 12th grades. It uses Bible study, prayer, rites of passage, outreach ministries and both serious and playful activities to underscore its core messages: 1) Manhood and womanhood are free gifts from God. 2) Adulthood must be earned. Discounted pricing for RI Episcopal churches; (see footnote)
  • Living the Good News – lectionary based curricula for nursery through adult
  • Faith Lens (from the Evangelical Lutheran Church) – Weekly Bible studies that engage youth and young adults in connecting world events with the Bible, faith, and everyday life. (free, online)
  • Re-form (from the Evangelical Lutheran Church) – focuses on core beliefs, tradition and ancestors
  • Seasons of the Spirit – lectionary-based, ecumenical; see description under Children above.

Young Adults

  • These are our Bodies – session plans with activities for Young Adults (ages 18–30) to explore issues of sexuality in the context of our faith
  • Young adult resources –Discounted pricing for RI Episcopal churches; (see footnote)
*Resources published by LeaderResources (vs. those sold for other publishers) are available to Episcopal churches in Rhode Island for a discount you choose — 25%, 50%, 75% or free. Contact Mary Ann Mello for information on how to order or call 800-941-2218 for more information.


Vacation Bible School (VBS)

Summer can be a valuable time to engage children in Christian Education — and can be an important offering to the wider community. Consider creating an ecumenical program if your congregation doesn’t have enough children and/or leaders. Also, consider offering a vacation program using the same curricula for VBS. Many families struggle to find safe, inexpensive ways to care for their children the week after Christmas or during spring break. This is an important ministry to offer to your community’s families. You might charge a modest amount to cover the cost of paying for some of your staff (e.g., an honorarium for high school students to help with the program).

The Building Faith website reviews VBS programs. You can also order VBS programs by LeaderResources at a discount (from 25%-100%). Contact Mary Ann Mello for information or call 800-941-2219.


NOTE: While these summer programs are traditionally called Vacation Bible School, some churches have moved to calling these weeks church camp or adventure week or some other name that doesn’t convey that this is the same as school. This also applies to the name “Sunday School.” Think about what you might call your Christian Education program for children that doesn’t send the wrong message to your children or their families.