Changes – A message from the Bishop

There have been some changes in the diocesan staff and in the staff of the Center for Reconciliation (CFR). We are welcoming Kristin Knudson-Groh to the diocesan staff and bidding Godspeed and farewell to Elon Cook Lee. 

Kristin is joining my staff to serve as communications director in a moment when we’re in the process of re-evaluating the way we do communications ministry in Rhode Island. Some of you will recognize her name, because she grew up here in Rhode Island and her father served in churches here— particularly All Saints, Pontiac. I’m delighted to welcome Kristin to the staff. Dave Seifert and others associated with the communications ministry are going to continue their work with us as well. The plan is to do a broad re-evaluation of what will best serve the needs of the congregations across the state, and to this end we are working to increase our capacity. Although the Rev. Gillian Barr served in a part-time capacity, Kristin will be working full-time. But we’re also in conversation with some vendors and other experts about how to increase the role of our website, social media and earned media (press reports) in our work to share the good news of what God is doing here in Rhode Island. This will probably take a couple of years to work through, and Kristin will have a key role in that process. 

You can reach her at (and she’ll be monitoring some of the other communications email addresses as well, such as 

But as we welcome Kristin, we are simultaneously saying goodbye to Elon, who has been with the CFR from its beginning. She has been key to getting that organization up and running, moving from a resolution at Diocesan Convention to a nonprofit that is producing multiple programs a week and reaching out across the state. Elon was a brilliant teacher and helped many of us reconsider our own understanding of our story by including the ignored and forgotten stories of the enslaved and the marginalized. She has an incredible gift for doing this work through presenting artifacts from our history and inviting us to reflect on their meaning within the larger national and regional narrative. She is taking a new position with the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C., as director of interpretation and education. On behalf of all of connected with the CFR and all of us across the diocese, we say thank you and congratulations! 

Debra Sharpe, the CFR executive director, and the CFR Board of Directors will be working during the next months to continue the legacy that Elon made possible, and to look for new ways that we can fulfill the mandate that was given us by Diocesan Convention when the organization was created. There are many ways to support that work, and you can learn more about those and the programs being offered at the CFR’s website.

In a season of change, one thing remains the same: our work to proclaim the truth of Jesus and his life to the community in which we live. Jesus has the ability to change lives and reclaim what was lost. Kristin will help us share that good news, just as Elon showed us how to present it in a way that included all of the voices and experience of the full spectrum of God’s children. 


Workshop materials from Leadership Institute on March 23, 2019

A ‘Parish Legacy Society’ as Planned Giving
How to create and nurture a Legacy Society, honoring those who name your church in an estate, a will or trust. Hear success stories about this and learn some innovative approaches to planned giving.

Click here for Planned Giving and other resources

Vestry 101
So … you are a new member of the vestry! What ARE your responsibilities related to the vision, leadership and fiduciary health of your church? Get support and training to become wise and empowered leaders, with practical nuts and bolts to make your vestry experience effective – and even fun!

Episcopal Church Foundation- Vital Practices

Roles and Responsibilities of Elected Leaders

_Vestry_101 Vestry Papers Issue

Improving your church’s online presence
What are prospective visitors looking for when they check out your church online? Learn about current best practices for your congregation’s Facebook page and website, and some things to avoid.  We’ll evaluate examples of great and not-so great websites in other parts of the country.

Wellness check for your church’s online presence

Online assets ownership worksheet

Resources for enhancing your online presence

A sample media and video policy with release form

Copyright Guidelines for Churches

Photo Release Template

Wardens Face Time with Bishop Knisely
Senior and Junior wardens, receive guidance and support about this crucial lay leadership office in our changing churches. What IS your role – as chief ecclesiastical officers – with the congregation, clergy and staff?

Show Me the Money: Old and New Guidelines for Treasurers
Church treasurers, you are not alone – so don’t do it alone! Money managers: Learn healthy practices of transparency and fiduciary responsibility essential to being a safe church. Also find out about potential sources of revenue — grants, loans and diocesan resources.

Click this link for Resources

HR: Hiring, Firing, Retiring … and Everything in Between
Hiring, firing and retiring can be done professionally and with grace. This session features education and troubleshooting for church leaders in the basics of personnel and human resource management for church staff.

Episcopal Church Foundation-Vital Practices

Employee Management Checklist

Model_Personnel_Handbook_for_Parishes — from the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

Human Resources List

Community-Building in an Age of Isolation and Division
Now, more than ever, our church has something urgently-needed and beautiful to offer society. How might we build new forms of intentional community and fellowship to offer healing to a divided world? Learn some fun ideas to bring people together and have a ball!

All Our Children-Partnerships between Church and Schools

Community Garden Help – URI

Blessing Boxes

Pastoral Care for Baby-Boomers and More
Pastoral care, with appropriate training and guidance, is a ministry of all disciples of Christ. Learn how to create, nurture and equip healthy congregational care teams. Train lay leaders now to meet the needs of aging “boomers” – and all generations.

Lay Pastoral Care Resources

Starting a Lay Pastoral Care Ministry Team

Memory Cafes

Eucharistic Visitors  (NOTE: order this resource at, select “pay by check,” use in your church name and address — the staff will see that you are a RI church and will zero it out so you can just ignore the invoice. This only works for the Episcopal Churches in RI. Call 800-941-2218 if you have questions or concerns.

Publicizing and organizing events in the digital age
What’s the difference between digital and paper-based approaches to publicizing events, and how can they work together? What determines what events get publicized in diocesan publications?  Bring examples of particularly successful and creative strategies you’ve used to add to our discussion.

Church event publicity

Manual of Business Methods in Church Affairs

The format and design of this manual should assist you in fulfilling the responsibilities for the financial oversight of a diocese or congregation. The accounting principles and practices described in this manual should be understandable to most readers. The concepts and terminology have been kept simple yet consistent with the demands of professional accounting principles. The Spanish language download is here.

Chapter I: Financial Management

Budgeting is the allocation of the church‘s resources, in accordance with a plan, for the achievement of its objectives and goals. The church budget is one of the most effective tools available for the proper stewardship of the church’s assets.

Chapter II: Internal Controls

What type of bookkeeping system should we use? How many bank accounts do we need? Who should be able to sign checks? Who should deposit the weekly receipts in the bank, and how? These are just some of the questions to be answered when setting up an accounting system for a congregation. Such questions should be periodically reviewed.

Chapter III: Bookkeeping

The accounting year for all Episcopal congregations and dioceses is January 1 through December 31, according to the Canons of the Episcopal Church, Title I, Canon 7, Section 1(i), which are included in the Introduction of this manual.

Chapter IV: Taxes and the Episcopal Church

Timely and accurate compliance with all applicable Federal and State tax laws is an essential element of sound management of church finances. Federal and State governments have placed increased pressure on all governmental units to increase revenues through an intensified application of existing tax laws to all types of organizations, including churches.

Chapter V: Clergy Discretionary Funds

The Episcopal Church has developed these guidelines for the benefit of clergy, dioceses, congregations, institutions, and others with authority over funds of the Church. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide information and guidance in the structure and use of a class of temporarily restricted or designated funds generally known as clergy discretionary funds.

Chapter VI: Audit Guidelines for Congregations

These audit guidelines were developed to assist auditors in performing the annual audit of the books of account of the congregations of the Episcopal Church. Annual audits are required by the Canons of the Episcopal Church for all parishes, missions, and other institutions. The primary purpose of an audit is to assure that financial statements are fairly stated. Any person handling the monies or investments of the church needs an audit to protect the church assets and him/her against suspicion of mishandling those assets. Similarly, rectors, vestries, vicars, bishop‘s committees, treasurers and other persons in positions of responsibility may be liable for any losses which would have been discovered by an ordinary audit but were not discovered because they failed to have an audit conducted.

Chapter VII: Insurance

Responsible stewardship demands protection of the Church’s people and property from certain risks. Title I, Canon 7 (6), states – “All buildings and their contents shall be kept adequately insured”, and Title I, Canon 7 (3), states – “Treasurers and custodians, other than banking institutions, shall be adequately bonded; except treasurers of funds that do not exceed $500 at any one time during the fiscal year.”

Chapter VIII: Parochial Reports

Since the first General Convention of the Episcopal Church, congregations have provided a report of membership, baptisms, communicants, services and finances. In 1804 the Committee on the State of the Church was established to review this information and prepare a summary report to General Convention. The authority for the Parochial Report is described in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, Canons I.6, I.7, and I.17. The text of these canons is included as an appendix to these instructions.

Chapter IX: Records Management

This chapter offers guidelines on practical issues that treasurers and administrators of congregations will encounter with business records. The chapter includes a general retention schedule that can be modified and adopted for a congregation‘s use.

Appendix A:

Forms This appendix lists many forms commonly used by treasurers of congregations, and provides instructions for obtaining copies of them. Samples of some generic forms appear on the pages immediately following this Appendix.

Lay Employee Pension Plan

All lay employees of the diocese or any congregation that work more than 1000 hours in a year receive pension benefits through The Church Pension Fund. The Diocese of Rhode Island and its churches have a Defined Contribution Pension Plan. You may begin contributing as soon as you are enrolled.

Defined Contribution Plan

The Episcopal Church Lay Employees’ Defined Contribution Retirement Plan (DC) consists of two different plans – a 401(a) plan and a 403(b) plan.Both are administered by Fidelity Investments.

How Does the Plan Work?

  • Your employer must adopt the plan by:
  • Your employer typically contributes a base contribution equal to at least 5% of your compensation.2
  • You may contribute up to the limits set by the IRS.
  • Your employer may match your contribution. This matching contribution, when added to the employer base contribution, typically should be equal to at least 9%.2
  • Your pre-tax contribution reduces your current income for federal income tax purposes.
  • You are not required to contribute. However, you will lose out on the employer match if you choose not to contribute.2
  • You elect the amount you wish to defer to the plan.
  • You choose the investment options for your account.

Impact on Retirement Benefits

  • Your pre-tax contribution to the Defined Contribution Plan allows you to save more money for retirement.
  • When you retire, your pension benefit is based on the value of your account.
  • All growth in the account accrues to you.


  • You have several Investment Options.
  • Account growth is based on investment performance and may vary.
Your employer may have adopted only one or both plans.
Ask your employer what percentage its base contribution is, and its match, if any.

The Episcopal Church Retirement Savings Plan (RSVP) is a 403(b) tax-deferred retirement savings plan that gives lay employees the option of contributing their own money toward their retirement savings.

RSVP features include:

  • Pre-tax and after-tax contribution options
  • Ability to transfer assets and change the allocation of future contributions online or by phone
  • 24/7 access to your account
  • Daily valuation
  • Loan option
  • Investment tools to manage risk
  • Distribution option in retirement

RSVP offers a variety of investment options, so you can prepare for your retirement in the way that best serves your needs. These include Lifecycle Funds, which take the guesswork out of investing for retirement, and a mix of funds ranging from low- to high-risk.

Visit Fidelity for more information or learn more from our Retirement Savings Webinar Workshops presented in partnership with Fidelity.


Workers’ Compensation & Employer’s Insurance

Why Most Churches Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance

In most states, Workers’ Compensation is compulsory for all employees.

A priest is considered an employee and is thus subject to Workers’ Compensation law in most states.

Some dioceses, independent of state regulation, require that parishes provide Workers’ Compensation protection for clergy.

Your obligation to provide Workers’Compensation protection may extend to interim or retired clergy, as well.

DOWNLOAD an Informational Brochure
Workers Compensation FAQs