There will be three Congregational Vitality Workshops available at this year’s diocesan convention from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon at Kye’s.

Attendees are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to explore new ways to vitalize your parish and ministry.

Registration for the workshops is required.


The Rev. Dr. Gray Lesesne

#1 What Your Congregation/Ministry Can Learn from New Starts and Innovative Ministries

The Rev. Dr. Gray Lesesne, The Rev. Sarah Ginolfi, The Rev. William Curtis 

Good Samaritan Episcopal Church is the first intentional church start of the Diocese of Indianapolis in more than 20 years. Centered in a historically traditional county where megachurches predominate the landscape, Good Sam’s is an intentionally boutique congregation focusing on hands-on service and intentional outreach as a way of life, the inclusion of all people, and open-minded evangelism. Come learn about how this church without a building has grown from 0 to more than 130 people in three years. We’ll talk about new church starts and also share church start practices that our existing congregations can steal and adapt!

The Rev. Dr. Gray Lesesne is the first church planter in our Diocese in more than 20 years, He has enjoyed travelling around over the past three years to preach, to lead workshops, and to share the Good News about our new start in Brownsburg with Good Samaritan. What he has found even more exciting is brainstorming with diocesan members about what has been learned in the new mission “field” and how that can be applied and adapted locally to our existing ministries.

He’s an energetic Episcopal priest with more than 16 years of experience in growing communities of faith and helping followers of Christ connect with God and each other. Before becoming church planter and rector, Gray served as a Canon and Senior Associate at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, the mother church of the Diocese. Active in the local theatre scene along Mass Ave, Gray brings a flair of the dramatic to his lively sermons and leading of worship. A believer in the ministry of all Christians, Gray never refers to himself as “the minister,” because he believes that all of us are ministers. His role as a priest is to empower us all for ministry.

Gray holds Master in Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Virginia Theological Seminary and completed his undergraduate work at Presbyterian College. He served as Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Glen Rock, New Jersey from 2003-2008 and as Assistant Rector of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in North Augusta, South Carolina from 2001-2003.

The Rev. Elise Erikson Barrett, Lilly Endowment Inc.

#2 Vital Congregations: Lessons Learned from Lilly Endowment Grantees 

The Rev. Elise Erikson Barrett, Lilly Endowment Inc. 
For nearly two decades, Lilly Endowment has funded efforts that help religious organizations understand the economic challenges facing pastors and how to address them. In 2015, the Endowment launched the National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders, awarding nearly $50 million in grants over three years to religious organizations across the country including the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.  Financial and economic challenges present a barrier to pastoral excellence, and have significant impacts on the vitality and flourishing of the congregations pastors lead. In this workshop, Elise Barrett, who manages the Coordination Program for this national initiative, will offer learnings from the first year of its work and the implications for congregational vitality.
Elise Erikson Barrett serves as the Coordination Program Manager for Lilly Endowment Inc.’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. She is a former ordained United Methodist pastor, was recently received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and is a writer whose book What Was Lost: A Christian Journey through Miscarriage received Christianity Today magazine’s “Best Book” award in the spiritual living category. She blogs for Patheos’ Wilbur Award-winning Sick Pilgrim channel and at She is a singer/songwriter and mother of three. Elise holds degrees from Hanover College (BA, Economics) and Duke Divinity School (MDiv).

The Rev. Dr. James B. Lemler

#3 Vital Leaders and Vital Congregations

The Rev. Dr. James B. Lemler 

God gives gifts of life and vitality to congregations and their leaders.  This workshop will focus on the opportunities and characteristics of vitality for leaders and communities of faith alike.  We will be honest about challenges and focus on practical hope and pathways for vital mission and ministry.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Lemler served the Diocese of Indianapolis in a variety of ministries from 1977 to 1998.  He is passionate about leadership and congregational development and has focused on those areas as a seminary dean, Director of Mission for the Episcopal Church, and congregational rector and developer in Connecticut for the past decade.  “Back home again in Indiana,” Jim currently serves this diocese as chaplain for the Pathways to Vitality Pilot Parishes Initiative and is a philanthropic foundation officer.


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