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

Photo Release Template

Before that picture is included in your newsletter, added to your church’s website or posted on FaceBook, Instagram, YouTube, etc., what should church leaders be aware of?

There are two issues involved when it comes to pictures and video. The first one is ownership of intellectual property and the second is right to privacy.

Who Owns That Picture?

When someone takes a picture (or video), they own those images or video. However, if they are a paid employee of your church or the diocese and take pictures or shoot a video while they are working, the church owns their work and the copyright to it. This is because it is considered a work made for hire. (Note: This applies to other intellectual property such as sermons, articles in the newsletter, meditations, etc.)

If you recruit a volunteer to take pictures for the church and you want to use the pictures (or video) you can either ask them to sign an agreement ahead of time giving the rights to the church or just giving the church permission to use the image. The advantage to getting the full rights is you control the image and it prevents the photographer from coming back later and asking for payment or saying you can’t use their image in the way you want to. You would usually give them the right to use it for personal use, but not for any other use. If the volunteer photographer retains the right to their image and gives the church the right to use it, you might find the same image being used by the volunteer in a way that reflects badly on the church. So you at least will want the volunteer to let you know ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.

The Right to Privacy

The second issue regarding your church using pictures and videos is the right to privacy.  Generally consent must be given before someone’s image can be published or broadcast. The only exception is when an image they appear in can be considered news or in a public “crowd” (such as a worship service).  If you publish that picture of a cute kid and didn’t get the child’s parent to sign a photo release, you could be sued by that child’s parent. Be especially careful around foster children (who are protected by law) and visitors (who are more likely to be offended by showing up in one of your church photos than a member might be).

The need for a photo release applies to employees and volunteers — even if that volunteer photographer took the photo and didn’t sign the copyright over to the church. The church is liable because the employee or volunteer was serving as an agent of the church. And that employee or volunteer could also be personably liable for invasion of privacy.

When Others Post Pictures Online

What if someone who is not serving as a volunteer of the church happens to take pictures of children at your church and posts them on their Facebook page? Unlike church employees or volunteers, they are not an agent of the church, and they own their images. So, the church has no legal say in how the pictures can be used and isn’t liable.

A Simple Precaution

One simple precaution to take around children is to make sure you never post a picture of a child with a nametag. Doing so provides a child molester with an advantage as they can call the child by name (even if they just recognize them from the picture) which makes them feel more familiar and safe, increasing the likelihood that a child will follow their directions. If you are in a situation where the children might be photographed by others, avoid giving them nametags to help mitigate this danger.

Use Photo Releases Regularly

Many churches have parents sign a photo release when they register their child for Sunday School or VBS. Another good time is if your church is doing a photo directory — have everyone sign general releases at that time. But again, as a precaution, don’t post your photo directory (or even your printed directory with names and addresses) online and don’t have copies available at the back of the church. Pass them out to members and not to strangers.


Copyright Guidelines for Churches

Churches can and are sued for copyright violations. Therefore, it is important for church leaders to be aware of and observe copyright regulations. This guide is a quick summary of the use of copyright materials in an educational context. Note, this does NOT include public worship where you must get permission before using music or printing lyrics. “Fair use” allows one to quote from a work (such as the quote above) or use portions of a work in certain contexts.

One other note: copyright law is filled with grey areas. It is not always clear what is permitted or prohibited until someone wins or loses a legal case. As the U.S. Copyright Office website says: “Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances.”

According to the Copyright Office, there are “fair use” purposes: “for the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.” It identifies four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes

2. The nature of the copyrighted work

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

The goal of a church should be to avoid those practices that are clear violations and seek to follow practices that are clearly appropriate or at least “defensible.” That doesn’t mean you won’t be sued, but it means you have a reasonable defense if you have been consistently careful.

DOWNLOAD Copyright Guidelines for Churches.

Alcoholic Beverage Policy

Each church has a responsibility under Rhode Island law and has a moral responsibility of not encouraging excessive use of alcohol. The serving of alcoholic beverages at church functions must be limited and closely controlled as follows:

1.    Care will be exercised by the congregation or sponsoring group to ensure that all alcohol usage on the church or diocesan premises is in accordance with appropriate state and local laws and ordinances, including:

a.    require proper identification as defined in Title 3 for all individuals who appear to look thirty (30) years old or younger who order alcoholic beverages (acceptable IDs are any state driver’s license, a Rhode Island state ID card, a military card and a passport)

b.    not serve more than two (2) drinks at a time;
c.    not serve shots or triple alcoholic drinks;
d.    not serve visibly intoxicated individuals;
e.    not serve alcoholic beverages for more than a five (5) hour period per event;

a.    only allow a licensee, and/or its agents and employees to serve alcoholic beverages at an event (obtain and file a copy of their license and liability insurance in advance of the event);

f.    require that a licensed vendor deliver and remove all alcohol and that the bartender employed by the licensee be certified by a nationally recognized alcoholic beverage server-training program

These apply whether alcohol is served by the church or an organization related to the church or is a BYOB (bring your own bottle) event.

2.    Any and all necessary and reasonable precautions shall be taken to supervise alcohol usage to insure that no individual is over served and that no individual under the legal drinking age is served. Dram shop laws apply in Rhode Island meaning that the server and/or the licensee who sells or serves alcohol to a minor or to an already intoxicated person may be held responsible for any damage or injuries that the person may cause as a result of consuming alcohol.

3.    Any event where alcohol is served will discontinue service at least 30 minutes before the end of the event to ensure that attendees do not drink and drive. Due diligence will be observed to prevent anyone who appears impaired from driving.

4.    Alcohol usage will be supervised by the group hosting the event in consultation with the priest-in-charge and Vestry or Bishop’s Committee.

5.    No alcohol may be served at any youth or youth sponsored event. All events with youth in attendance must communicate the “no alcohol or drugs” policy to all attendees and take appropriate precautions to ensure that two unrelated adults are always present and attentive in all rooms and outdoor sites where youth might obtain or consume alcohol they find on the premises or bring with them.

a.    The Diocese of Rhode Island, Policies for the Protection of Children and Youth (January 1, 2007) states: “Behavioral Standards.  For all programs and activities for children and youth, prohibit (i) issuance to children or youth of non-sacramental alcohol, illegal drugs or pornography, (ii) consumption of non-sacramental alcohol or illegal drugs or misuse legal drugs, (iii) participation of any adult who is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs or misusing legal drugs (iv) illegal behavior of any type at any activity for children or youth (v) participation by an adult in any sexual, romantic, illicit or secretive relationship or conduct with any children or youth, (vi) discussion of sexual activities or fantasies, unless in the context of an approved program or the sacrament of confession, (vii) corporal punishment, (viii) smoking and (ix) firearms or other concealed weapons.”

6.    It is advisable to lock up the communion wine and not store any alcoholic beverage on the premises before or after an event and take steps to make sure that no youth have access to the sacristy keys.

7.    When alcohol is served, food and an equally attractive and accessible non-alcoholic beverage will be provided. “Equally attractive” generally means something “festive” rather than merely a beverage that is not alcoholic.

8.    Whenever there is a charge for an event where alcohol is served, the fee for the event generally will include the cost of all beverages. The sale of individual drinks or tickets for drinks are not permitted under Rhode Island law unless you have a license. In most cases the license will be a Class F (one time license) which has a minor fee – regulations and fees vary by location so check your local town or city license agency for details.

a.    Class F license. – A retailer’s Class F license authorizes the holder of the license to keep for sale and to sell malt and vinous beverages on the premises, described in the license, at retail for consumption on the premises where sold for a period of nineteen (19) hours, including Sunday. The license may be issued to religious organizations, state non-business corporations and political organizations only and the sale of malt and vinous beverages may take place between the hours of six o’clock (6:00) a.m. and one o’clock (1:00) a.m. on the following day.

9.    Outside groups hosting an event must receive the approval of the priest-in-charge to serve alcohol and must agree, in writing, to observe all state laws and the norms in this policy.

10.    Any outside group or group advertising to the public that serves alcohol on church premises will be required to obtain an event rider from an insurance company that lists the church as a named insured. An outside group is defined as any group not directly sponsored by the church. Advertising to the public is defined as publicity through radio, newspaper, television, website, email, social media or signage to induce the public to attend the event.

11.    Each Vestry or Bishop’s Committee is urged to develop and publicize church guidelines for use of alcohol on church property. This policy can be used as a template that can be adapted for local use.

Things to remember:

  • Any driver who is chemically tested and returns a blood-alcohol content level that is .08 percent or more is considered ‘per se intoxicated.
  • If a driver has a chemical test showing a BAC level that is .15 percent or more over the legal limit, that driver is subject to more severe punishment by the courts.
  • ‘Zero tolerance laws’ mean that a driver under 21 years of age will face DUI penalties even if the chemical test indicates the driver has only a .02 percent BAC level.
  • Adults who are present when youth drink may be liable to prosecution even if they did not provide or serve the alcohol. Adults supervising youth must exercise vigilance to ensure that alcohol and drugs are not being used—especially in areas outside of the main activity area.
  • Any person over the age of eighteen (18) who is convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, other drugs, or a combination of these, while a child under the age of thirteen (13) years was present as a passenger in the motor vehicle when the offense was committed may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year and further shall not be entitled to the benefit of suspension or deferment of this sentence.

Adopted Diocesan Council
September 11, 2013



The General Convention of the Episcopal Church also addressed this issue in a resolution in 2015:

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention acknowledge The Episcopal Church’s long-standing tolerance for the use of alcohol which, in some cases, has contributed to its misuse, and has undermined a climate of wholeness and holiness for all; that our Church culture too often avoids hard conversations about alcohol use, and the role of forgiveness and compassion in healing and recovery; and that The Episcopal Church now commits to create a new normal in our relationship with alcohol. We aspire to be a place in which conversations about alcohol, substance misuse, or addiction are not simply about treatment but about renewal, justice, wholeness, and healing. We affirm that Recovery Ministries of The Episcopal Church has long been and continues to be a valuable resource for this work; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th Convention adopt the following policy on alcohol and other substance misuse and encourage dioceses, congregations, seminaries, schools, young adult ministries, and affiliated institutions to update their policies on the use of alcohol and other substances with the potential for misuse. These policies should consider the following:

1. The Church must provide a safe and welcoming environment for all people, including people in recovery.

2. All applicable federal, state and local laws should be obeyed, including those governing the serving of alcoholic beverages to minors.

3. Some dioceses and congregations may decide not to serve alcohol at events or gatherings. Others may decide to permit a limited use of alcoholic beverages at church-sponsored events. Both can be appropriate if approached mindfully.

4. When alcohol is served, it must be monitored and those showing signs of intoxication must not be served. Whenever alcohol is served, the rector, vicar, or priest-in-charge must appoint an adult to oversee its serving. That adult must not drink alcoholic beverages during the time of his or her execution of his or her responsibilities. If hard liquor is served, a certified server is required.

5. Serving alcoholic beverages at congregational events where minors are present is strongly discouraged. If minors are present, alcohol must be served at a separate station that is monitored at all times to prevent underage drinking.

6. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages must be clearly labeled as such. Food prepared with alcohol does not need to be labeled provided the alcohol is completely evaporated by the cooking process; however, it is recommended that even in this case the use of alcohol in cooking be noted on a label.

7. Whenever alcohol is served, appealing non-alcoholic alternatives must always be offered with equal prominence and accessibility.

8. The serving of alcoholic beverages at church events should not be publicized as an attraction of the event, e.g. “wine and cheese reception,” “cocktail party,” and “beer and wine tasting.”

9. Ministries inside or outside of congregations will make certain that alcohol consumption is not the focus of the ministry and that drinking alcohol is not an exclusively normative activity.

10. Food must be served when alcohol is present.

11. The groups or organizations sponsoring the activity or event at which alcoholic beverages are served must have permission from the clergy or the vestry. Such groups or organizations must also assume responsibility for those persons who might become intoxicated and must provide alternative transportation for anyone whose capacity to drive may be impaired. Consulting with liability insurance carriers is advised.

12. Recognizing the effects of alcohol as a mood-altering drug, alcoholic beverages shall not be served when the business of the Church is being conducted.

13. Clergy shall consecrate an appropriate amount of wine when celebrating the Eucharist and perform ablutions in a way that does not foster or model misuse.

14. We encourage clergy to acknowledge the efficacy of receiving the sacrament in one kind and consider providing non-alcoholic wine.; and be it further

Resolved, That, mindful of the emerging legalization of other addictive substances and the increasing rise of addiction, the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church provide for the ready availability, implementation, and continuing development of this policy church-wide, in consultation and coordination with Recovery Ministries of The Episcopal Church.