2024 HoustonWorkshops

Wednesday, March 6 thruSaturday, March 9, 2024

Inspiring Leaders

39th Annual Conference, Houston
March 6-9, 2024
Westin Galleria and Westin Oaks

2024 Annual Conference

Conference Workshops

Should I Stay in One Workshop Track

The six workshop tracks are designed to educate and inspire on a variety of subjects including leadership, financial resiliency, innovation, strategy, inclusiveness, and real property management. You are welcome to pick and choose among the workshops to create an agenda that appeals to you.

If you are interested in real property management and leveraging your assets, we encourage you to join the Reimagining Property as Mission track. This is the only track where attending all three workshops in the track is encouraged (and, there is a field trip to a case study in Houston as part of this track).

Who Attends the Women Clergy Gathering?

EPN is honored to host the Women Clergy Gathering (WCG) on Thursday, March 7 from 11:00am to 1:00pm at the conference hotel. This gathering is open to women, women-identified, and non-binary clergy persons. There will be a pre-gathering online prior to the conference (if you register for the WCG you will receive details about this gathering in late-January). The WCG at the conference will feature a lite lunch for attendees. The WCG is offered to attendees at no cost (Meaning you will register for the WCG but do not need to register for the conference to attend.).

Workshop Group 1

The Dignity of Every Human Being

Workshop #1

Perspectives on Creation Care – How Can the Church Respond to the Climate Crisis?

Thursday, March 7 – 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

As the effects of climate change are felt more broadly, questions about the church’s response become increasingly urgent. In this session we’ll hear scientific and theological perspectives on the climate crisis and consider the responsibility of Christians and the church to care for creation. How are the impacts of rapid anthropogenic climate change being felt and where? What does Christian faith and practice have to say about our responsibilities as stewards of creation? How can we act with courage and not despair in the face of such enormous challenges? And what are churches doing to respond to climate change?

The Rev. John Burruss,
Rector, Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church; Birmingham, Alabama 

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas,
Missioner for Creation Care, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts & Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ; Northampton, Massachusetts
Dr. James McClintock, University Professor of Polar and Marine Biology, the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Birmingham, Alabama
Dr. John Gatta, Emeritus Professor, Sewanee, The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee

Workshop #2 

How to Maintain Hope and Make a Difference in the Face of the Global Migration Crisis

Friday, March 8 – 9:00 a.m. to 10:00a.m.

Many of us are confused and overwhelmed by the crisis along the southern U.S. border. More and more migrants and asylum seekers are arriving every day, and many are leaving border states to pursue support elsewhere. State and local governments, non-profits, and faith communities across the U.S. are stretched thin and our country seems deadlocked both politically and morally about the best way to respond.  And yet, our faith calls us to welcome the stranger and to love our neighbors. How do we respond faithfully to this growing crisis? How can we engage our communities in supporting the practical needs of migrants and asylum seekers, while also developing a moral national narrative?

This workshop will explore the work and stories of those on the frontlines of the crisis and will offer faith communities practical advice. Return home with practical ideas on how your community can respond to this crisis wherever you are located.

Cynthia McWhirter,
Outreach Chairperson, Christ Episcopal Church; San Antonio, Texas

The Rev. Dr. Chloe Breyer,
Executive Director, Interfaith Center of New York; New York City, New York
Flor Saldivar, Director of Immigration and Refugee Ministries, Diocese of West Texas; San Antonio, Texas

Workshop #3

The Call for Reparations

Friday, March 8 – 11:00 a.m. to Noon

Many dioceses are having conversations about reparations. Others have already designated funds for this most important work. How do you begin to have discussions in your congregation and in the wider church community about addressing America’s original sin? Join us for a riveting conversation about the debt owed from a leading author and other voices in the Episcopal church. You’ll leave with information and ideas to bring to your community.

The Rev. Canon Kathy Walker,
Canon Missioner for Black Ministries, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina

The Rev. Peter Jarrett-Schell,
Rector, Calvary Episcopal Church; Washington D.C.
The Rev. Canon Dr. Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism, Reconciliation, and Creation Care, The Episcopal Church Center; New York City, New York

Workshop Group 2

Congregational Economics

Workshop #1

Cultivating Generosity to Increase Giving

Thursday, March 7 – 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Did giving in your parish flatline during and/or after the pandemic? If so, join us to discover some innovative ways that you can help cultivate generosity in new ways. Regardless of the size of your parish, there are simple and effective ways to cultivate generosity in new ways. Come and hear from those who have seen giving double or triple over the past few years. Explore ways to leverage what you are already doing that can help maximize the ways you live into the mission of your church.

The Rev. Matt Holcombe,
Rector, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church; Colorado Springs, Colorado

Lucy Rinaldi,
Senior Warden, Christ Church Greenwich; Greenwich, Connecticut
The Rev. Mitch Smith, Rector, St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields; Columbia, South Carolina
The Rev. Marisa Tabizon Thompson,
Rector, All Saints Episcopal Church; Omaha, Nebraska

Workshop #2 

The “S” Word: Stewardship is not a Four-Letter Word

Friday, March 8 – 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Stewardship is an expression of our faith. It is not simply the church’s way of raising money; rather, it is a spiritual discipline that encompasses our very being as Christians. It is a radical departure from our secular understanding of charity, where we give to an external need. Instead, as stewards, we are motivated to give because it is something we internally need to do; it is intrinsic to our very understanding of what it means to be fully human.

In the breaking of bread and sharing of fellowship with one another, we recognize the temporal needs of our faith community. Our response is to ensure that our parish has the human and financial  resources necessary to support vibrant ministry. The practice and teaching of stewardship is vital to helping us understand why we give joyfully. Hear from spiritual and stewardship leaders about how they encourage their communities to view giving as a year-round spiritual practice. Attendees will be equipped with tools and ideas to implement back home. 

The Rev. Barkley Thompson,
Rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church; Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Winnie Varghese, Rector, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church; Atlanta, Georgia

Workshop #3 

Meeting the Moment – Investing in Youth and Conversation about Stewardship and Economic Justice

Friday, March 8 – 11:00 a.m. to Noon

Please join us for a thought-provoking conversation about raising the next generation of church leaders. We will share ideas about sparking the curiosity of our youth, building intergenerational connections, and considering new models to share God’s abundance by investing in others. According to Mary McLeod Bethune, “we have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” Leave with concrete ideas on how you and your community can engage the coming generation.

Kate Kile,
Director of Finance & Faith Formation, St. John’s Episcopal Church; Tallahassee, Florida
The Rev. Bradley Sullivan, Vicar, Lord of the Streets Episcopal Church; Houston, Texas

Workshop Group 3

Reimagining Property as Mission

Workshop #1 

The “What?” – What is Mission-Driven Real Estate? Why is it Important for You to Think About This Now?

March 7 – 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

How might you think more broadly about how to use your real estate to further your mission? Are there opportunities for your real estate assets to positively impact your parish and community ¾ whether generating income for your parish, serving a need in your community, or expanding your mission? This first workshop will provide an overview of mission-driven real estate development. And you will learn about the stages of development projects ¾ from learning to think broadly about possibilities as well as discernment around community needs through project development.

The Rev. James Clark III,
Managing Director, Mission Real Estate Development; Trinity Church Wall Street, New York, New York
May Yu, Program Director, Mission Real Estate Development; Trinity Church Wall Street, New York, New York

Workshop #2 

The “So What?” – How Can Your Congregation Discern its Mission?

Friday, March 8 – 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

During this second workshop, you will explore how your congregation might identify and prepare for a development project. How might your parish consider its vision and community’s needs as a starting place for discernment? The moderated discussion will help you review why understanding your congregation’s assets and engaging in thoughtful conversations within and beyond the walls of the church are critical when discerning missional call.

Rochelle (Shelly) Stackhouse,
MDiv, PhD, Sr. Director of Programs, Partners for Sacred Places; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Workshop #3 

The “Now What?” – Project Planning Case Study Exploring What Comes Next.

Friday, March 8 – 11:00 a.m. to Noon

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church & School in Houston is reimagining the future of its property to meet a critical need for workforce housing while creating financial, environmental, and social sustainability in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. We will hear from St. Stephen’s about how its vestry and real estate committee moved from discernment and preparation stages of development to begin a comprehensive search for a development partner. Participants in this workshop series are invited to visit St. Stephen’s on Friday afternoon following the keynote conversation.

The Rev. Lisa Hunt,
Rector, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church; Houston, Texas

Workshop Group 4

Thriving as a Leader

Workshop #1

Leading Staff in Creative Ways

Thursday, March 7 – 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

With the plethora of models and methods, there is an oversupply of “good” ideas about leadership. Yet the prospect of applying them to complex organizations where stakeholder relations and accountability are not always clear can be daunting. Andrew McGowan draws on 20 years of leadership in higher education and church settings in Australia and the U.S. to consider issues such as collaboration, change management, and organizational sustainability bearing in mind recent leadership theory, real-world complexity, and the nature of Christian mission. Return to your community with concrete examples of forming leaders and ideas on how you can follow suit.

The Rev. Dr. Andrew McGowan,
Dean, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale; New Haven, Connecticut

Workshop #2 

Living in Transition Ministries

Friday, March 8 – 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Join our panelists for a conversation on the time of transition. After leadership has departed and before the next senior leader is in place, church continues to be church. How? That’s what we’ll discuss!

This workshop is ideal for those in the process of transition or looking at upcoming transitions. You will return inspired when transition happens.

The Rev. Yejide Peters-Pietersen,
Associate Dean and Director of Formation, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale; New Haven, Connecticut

The Rev. Dr. Robert (Bob) Dannals,
Interim Rector, Church of The Heavenly Rest; New York City, New York
The Rev. Canon Arlette Benoit Joseph, Senior VP Church Relations Officer, CPG; New York, New York
The Rev. Penny Nash, Interim Rector, St. James’s Episcopal Church; Richmond, Virginia

Workshop #3

Empowering Leadership – Centering the Margins

Friday, March 8 – 11:00 a.m. to Noon

During this conversation with the Rev. Elazar Atticus Schoch Zavaletta, we will explore how churches can engage in supportive and encouraging leadership practices, making space for people who are unhoused, living with substance abuse, or otherwise “unexpected” leaders and visioners of the church’s future. You will find ideas and insights to deploy in your church. 

The Rev. Elazar Atticus Schoch Zavaletta,
Founding Pastor, North Avenue Mission, Baltimore, Maryland

Additional panelists’ information coming soon!

Workshop Group 5

Envisioning and Charting the Future

Workshop #1

Embodying the Diverse Future Church

Thursday, March 7 – 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

By 2045, people of color will be a majority of Americans. This is already the case for those under the age of 18. How will the Episcopal Church embrace and embody more diverse congregations and leadership that reflect the Realm of God? Our baptismal covenant gives us a theological framework for this work. Panelists will discuss ways to create space for vulnerability, dismantle barriers that discourage people of color to join parishes, and offer inspiring examples from around the country. There also will be time for small group discussions.

The Rev. Bowie Snodgrass,
Rector, Christ Church in Short Hills, New Jersey

The Rev. Canon Ranjit K. Mathews,
Canon to the Ordinary, The Episcopal Church in Connecticut
The Rev. Debra Q. Bennett, Rector, Church of Our Saviour in Akron, Ohio

Workshop #2

Generative Artificial Intelligence
The Church’s Closer and Closer Encounter

Friday, March 8 – 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) coupled with sophisticated robotics raise the timeless question ¾ what does it mean to be human? This is a question the church has been answering for 2,000 years, and now everyone is asking it. That is good news because we are people perfectly positioned to lead this conversation. Are you ready to do so?

During this workshop, you will wrestle with questions around the ethics of AI within the business of the church and the practice of the priesthood. You will reflect on the impact of AI on today’s economy, how that impact might play out over the next 20 years, and how this may change the pastoral needs of your congregation, as well as the funding model of churches. Finally, we will share some theological perspectives on AI as frameworks upon which to have conversations about AI within the construct of Christianity. 

The Rev. Lisa Ozaeta,
Associate Rector, Church of the Epiphany; Seattle, Washington

The Rev. Doyt Conn,
Rector, Church of the Epiphany; Seattle, Washington
Tomas Ye,
Machine Learning Engineer, Amazon.com; Seattle, Washington
Hasnain Walji,
Ph.D., Executive Director, United Global Initiative; Houston, Texas

Workshop #3

A Fresh Take on Re-Building Church Communities

Friday, March 8 – 11:00 a.m. to Noon

What’s the secret for renewed growth and evangelism at your church? Building strong relationships, identifying and developing leaders among the laity, and putting resources in that promised growth and revitalization are critical. We will share some examples with you and give your some of the tools you need to do this in your church. Christ Church Greenwich has significantly increased attendance at weekly services and participation in events over the past year due to the innovative and collaborative work of staff and laity.

“Messy Church” Eucharist attendance has increased by 125%, children’s ministry has over 110 kids participate weekly, women’s ministry has more than 700 participants, the LGBTQAI+ community has grown to include a partnership with Lighthouse, a peer-to-peer social support group for LGBTQAI+, and over 740 people have participated in social gatherings.

The Rev. Dr. Cheryl McFadden, Associate Rector, Christ Church Greenwich; Greenwich, Connecticut
George Belshaw, Director of Advancement and Engagement, Christ Church Greenwich; Greenwich, Connecticut
Bobbi Eggers, Director of Marketing and Communications, Christ Church Greenwich; Greenwich, Connecticut

Workshop Group 6

Innovation and Sustainability

Workshop #1

Belonging: Young Families Searching for Spiritual Community

Thursday, March 7 – 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Episcopal parishes across the country are asking questions about the future of the church and young people. Many churches are experiencing declining participation of families with young children and exploring different age-specific and intergenerational programs to better connect with them. Often, these programmatic fixes don’t meet the deep needs of contemporary families who face a variety of challenges such as financial instability, stress, social isolation, lack of childcare options, religious deconstruction, and for many groups, marginalization.

During this workshop, the panel will invite church leaders to reimagine the way they engage with young families from offering programs to building communities of care, belonging, and support. Join us for this panel discussion with thought leaders in children’s ministry to learn various ways they are empowering churches to move from transactional to relational models of work with parents and children, to become beacons of hope, healing, and belonging.

The Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris,
Ph.D., Director, Just Love Families; Princeton, New Jersey
Heather Ingersoll, Ph.D., Executive Director, Godly Play Foundation; Portland, Oregon
The Rev. Donna Sweeting, Project Director, Faith-Filled Families, Virginia Theological Seminary; Alexandria, Virginia

Workshop #2

Making Room – One Congregation’s Multicultural Journey

Friday, March 8 – 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Since 2013, the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, Texas has included a Swahili-speaking congregation comprised mostly of refugees from East Africa. As this congregation has grown over the years, both English-speaking and Swahili-speaking members of the parish have learned much about making room for one another. Join us as we discuss some of the joys, challenges, and opportunities presented by this relationship, and explore what it has meant to become a multicultural, multilingual community.

The Rev. David Romanik,
Rector, Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest; Abilene, Texas

Additional panelists’ information coming soon!

Workshop #3

Why Church?

Friday, March 8 – 11:00 a.m. to Noon

Research confirms that there is a great migration going on. “Active” parishioners are struggling to return to their old patterns of worship after COVID, while the number of people who are unchurched or identify as spiritual-but-not-religious are exploding. More and more, individuals are leaving their old religious identities behind in search of new ways of building community, connection, meaning, and purpose in life.

Do these trends spell the demise of congregational life? Not hardly. The broad spectrum of societal ills and mental-health issues with which we are contending indicate there is an urgent need to answer the question, “why church?” in new and innovative ways.

This workshop will discuss the emergence of open, welcoming parallel communities that are supporting individuals who think they will never enter a church again, and the inner adaptive capacities, resilience, vitality, and discernment these communities of practice are developing within their members — lay and clergy alike ¾ leadership qualities that are so desperately needed across all domains of civil society during these liminal times!

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle,
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Texas; Houston, Texas

Courtney Cowart,
Society for the Increase in Ministry, New York, New York
Mark Grayson, Founding Director, Trinity Spiritual Center; Vestry Member, Trinity Church; Southport, Connecticut
Casper ter Kuile, CEO, The Nearness; Brooklyn, New York
The Rev. Dr. James Lemler, President, Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation; Indianapolis, Indiana
The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care, The Episcopal Church Center; New York City, New York

More Learning and Networking Opportunities

Christ Church Cathedral CampusDowntown Houston

Friday, March 8 – 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.


3:30 p.m.
Buses leave for Christ Church Cathedral Campus (30-Minute Drive)
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Programs from which to choose – select one
6:00 p.m.
Closing worship

Mission Amplification – A Framework for Supporting Congregations

The Mission Amplification team serves more than 200 congregations and campuses in nearly 90 counties in the Diocese of Texas. The canon and five missioners assist leaders and congregations in planting new communities of faith; both church plants and missional communities. They help congregations become more missional and adaptable fostering a culture of lay-led, clergy supported churches. The team helps congregations strategize and engage in effective action in response to opportunities and challenges in a variety of contexts. They work with lay and clergy leaders to enhance and expand their congregation’s ministries to transform communities. Please join the Mission Amp team for a presentation about their current projects and upcoming initiatives.

The Rev. Canon Joann Saylors,
Canon for Mission Amplification, Episcopal Diocese of Texas; Huston, Texas
More panelists’ information coming soon!

The Way Home: Restoring Hope and Dignity to Houston’s Homeless

The Beacon is a nonprofit organization that provides daily services, civil legal aid, counseling, mentoring, and housing case management. Our mission is to provide essential and next-step services to restore hope and help end homelessness in Houston. Last year, The Beacon served over 4,600 individuals. Located in downtown Houston, services are provided in the John S. Dunn Outreach Center. The outreach center is owned by our founding partner, Christ Church Cathedral.

You will be introduced to The Beacon’s service model and daily activities, the partnership with Christ Church Cathedral, and how we leverage community partnerships to further our mission. Through a facilitated panel discussion, you will take away a better understanding of the work of the regional collaborative  known as The Way Home and The Beacon’s unique role in addressing and reducing homelessness in Houston.

Panelists’ information coming soon!

Diversity Centered Engagement of Beloved Community in the Episcopal Church and Beyond

What does inclusion look like to those you are trying to include? Why does the work of anti-racism so often feel like we ask persons of color to carry the load? In this session, we will explore best practices and experiences centered around exploring diversity in our society from the perspective of the members of the communities considered “diverse.” We’ll look at what the work of Beloved Community means from a Latino/a perspective toward other communities, and what it might mean when acknowledging the Latino/a diaspora itself contains such plurality.

Using experiences gained from the work being done within the Diocese of Texas and Seminary of the Southwest, we will examine music, language, and liturgy as ways to gain perspective toward a more authentic understanding of this important and uplifting, but often difficult, work.

The Rev. Nancy Frausto,
Director of Latinx Studies, Seminary of the Southwest; Auston, Texas

Panelists’ information coming soon!

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