During the spring and summer of 2020, as the pandemic forced the cancellation of in-person worship across the Episcopal Church, the House of Deputies State of the Church Committee raced to create a new parochial report form, designed just to track the “opportunities, innovations and challenges” that congregations experienced while dealing with the pandemic,” according to Episcopal News Service.
The new report form, available on the General Convention Office website, was approved by Executive Council at its October meeting. It asks congregations to report traditional average Sunday attendance numbers only for in-person worship from January 1 to March 1. A new set of questions, titled “Worship During the Pandemic,” tracks online worship by platform and metrics. The report form, which is due by March 1, also asks questions that invite congregational leaders to discuss how they are planning for the future and working toward racial justice and reconciliation.
The Rev. Chris Rankin-Williams, chair of the State of the Church Committee, says, “We want to capture the creative ways churches kept their communities connected and also the challenges they faced. The responses will allow us to develop helpful ways of tracking online attendance as more and more churches move to hybrid worship that is both online and in-person.
“A common complaint is that the parochial report feels like a report card or doesn’t let churches tell their story,” he said. “New narrative sections were added so churches can share how the lived out being the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement during the pandemic. Our faith is based in the story of Jesus, so our parochial reports should capture how we shared that story during these unprecedented times.”
For assistance with the 2020 Parochial Report, please email Canon Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale.