Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Transforming Churches: Trinity Cathedral, Phoenix

I was checking news from The Episcopal Church the other day and found an interesting video in a series the church is producing on healthy congregations. I decided to view this particular video because it was about Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona, where Nick Knisely is dean.

When I first got involved in diocesan affairs, Nick was rector of St. Barnabas, Brackenridge, which was a much healthier parish than it is now. We worked together on a project to connect all churches through e-mail. When St. Paul’s was looking for a rector to replace Bill Pickering, Nick was one of the candidates. The parish called Bob Banse, however, and Nick eventually moved to the Diocese of Bethlehem, where he became rector of Trinity, Bethlehem. Nick was successful in growing that parish and, after a few years, became dean at the Phoenix cathedral.

The video is very much about how Trinity Cathedral, which was a dying enterprise in the sixties, is now thriving. (Nick says that Sunday attendance has grown from 175 to about 450 in the past four years.) Frankly, I don’t know the secret to growing a parish, but I am impressed by what Nick seems to have accomplished in his various positions. Near the end of the video, Nick offers this advice:
Growth is kind of paradoxical. I find that churches grow inversely proportional to the amount of control the clergy are willing to give up, and the more we treat the congregation as the primary ministers of the Gospel in the world, the faster a congregation grows. Basically, our job is to equip them and get out of their way.
Click on the first item in the window below to watch the video.

Trinity Cathedral, Phoenix, ArizonaTrinity Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona

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