“Episcopal” refers to governance by bishops. The historic episcopate (bishops) continues the work of the first apostles in the Church. It guards the unity, faith, and discipline of the Church and ordains men and women to continue Christ’s ministry. The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
An Episcopalian belongs to The Episcopal Church, encompassing churches in the United States and 16 countries, including Colombia, Taiwan, Micronesia, Honduras, Ecuador, Venezuela, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands, and Churches in Europe (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland).
The Episcopal Church follows the “via media” or middle way in theology and discussions because of the belief that whether or not people agree on a particular topic, they all are beloved by God and can have respectful and thoughtful discussions. Everyone is welcomed in the Episcopal Church without any prerequisites.
Formation of the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF)
ECF was founded in 1949 as an independent, lay-led, and inclusive organization to build, vitalize and transform Episcopal faith communities with an emphasis on formation, finance, and resources. It serves The Episcopal Church with understanding, openness, and joy rooted in Jesus, nurtured by its tradition, and focused on the future.
ECF inspires and nurtures church leaders and focuses on strengthening congregations. It has worked in many capacities, from managing finances and assets to providing quality resources to the Church and the larger faith community. It fulfills its purpose of being a catalyst, agent, and advocate for transformation, renewal, and growth in The Episcopal Church in practical, innovative, and spiritually-grounded ways.
The Rt. Rev. Henry Knox Sherrill was passionate about the mission of the Church and a committed leader of the ecumenical movement at both the national and international levels. After his election as Presiding Bishop, Sherrill founded ECF in 1949. When he formed ECF, churches across the country were becoming more centralized and adapting to a more corporate governance model. Sherrill realized the significance of modernization yet kept core beliefs and practices. ECF maintains these traditions as it lives into its commitment to the ministry of all the baptized and promoting effective lay and clergy partnerships.
Initially, the resources from ECF were used both to build up The Episcopal Church’s infrastructure and extend its work throughout the nation and across the globe. ECF established a revolving loan fund that assisted with constructing hundreds of Episcopal churches in the United States and abroad. ECF also funded multiple local outreach ministries in all parts of the country.
ECF Transforms Ministry
The Episcopal Church Foundation aims to lead Episcopal faith communities into the future as a partner for transforming ministries. With core values of innovation, partnership, and independence, ECF inspires and nurtures church leaders and forges partnerships to form steadfast followers of Jesus. It promotes generosity and stewardship and assists faith communities to raise and manage financial resources. ECF also creates and disseminates high-quality resources and shares innovative ideas throughout the Church.
One of several reasons ECF’s growth and evolution continues is the wisdom of leaders like Bishop Henry Knox Sherrill and the current president, Donald V. Romanik. In an interview, Romanik talks about his application process at ECF. “And what happened,” he says, “is that during that process, when I sat down and put together a resumé, I felt it was the first time in my vocational/professional life that I was participating in a thoughtful, prayerful process of who I was, what was I passionate about and what was God calling me to do.”
Notable Achievements & Contributions
Over the years, the Episcopal Church Foundation has curated and disseminated resources such as the Vital Practices website, the Congregational Vitality Assessment, the Vestry Resource Guide, and the Finance Resource Guide. The ECF team continues to put new transformative tools and resources into the hands of church leaders. One of them is ECF360, a new low-cost self-service subscription site for fundraising for the community.
Past successful programs include Listening Hearts for adults and Journey to Adulthood for children. ECF helped establish a new bishop search process, created the College for Bishops, found the Alban Institute, and set up the Revolving (church building) Loan Fund.
The Episcopal Church Foundation has published numerous books such as the Finance Resource Guide in English and Spanish, the Vestry Resource Guide in English and Spanish, Funding Future Ministry, Writing Your Will, Planned Giving, and Planning for the End of Life. Romanik launched another book in February 2022 called Money Legacies.