Archive for ◊ November, 2011 ◊

• Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

What great fun it is when new opportunities present themselves where we can help churches think through major life and death decisions!  When Finishing With Grace first came out, there was a lull in reader response, but over the past few months Linda and I have been invited to take part in some exciting new projects!  We are now “coaches” for the Connecticut Conference, United Church of Christ, where we will be working with congregations who find themselves at  crossroads in their church lives that require them to make difficult decisions about their futures.  We will also be consulting with an American Baptist Church in Massachusetts as they explore the idea of a merger.

Our most exciting new project is the creation of an on-line seminar, “webinar”,  with Service Realty, a real estate firm out of Texas, that specializes in buying and selling church properties.  Service Realty and their Church Consultants firm are presenting a conversation about church mergers based on our book, Finishing With Grace.  Linda and I will be heard on the broadcast nationwide, along with other experts in the field.

Even better, you, our readers, are invited to attend the webinar and participate from your own computer and telephone!  We hope you will take the time to join us on Wednesday morning, December 7 at 11 AM (EST)/10 AM (CST).  The official invitation and the links to join us are provided below.  Get your questions answered, share your ideas, be a part of the conversation!  If you have any questions before the event, please send them to us via  If you are unable to attend, please be aware that a recording of the conversation will be available to you following the webcast,

Dear Friend,  we would like to invite you to take part in an on-line event based on our book,  Finishing With Grace:  A Guide to Selling, Merging or Closing Your Church.    We will be on the panel of experts discussing the options congregations have as they face changes in membership, money and/or energy.  Please  join us for this conversation on  Wednesday, December 7 at 11 AM Eastern Standard Time.  Please see the promotional  information below about registering and connecting  yourself to the event. Thanks,  Gretchen & Linda:

Mergers and Acquisitions?

Normally not a topic you would expect to hear in church conversation, However you would be surprised how often it is discussed today.

These have been some interesting times for many churches; Many churches are facing issues they never faced before.

More churches have been foreclosed or are facing financial difficulties like never before in modern history.

As many face these issues they are finding they need to consider solutions never discussed in the past.

This FREE teleseminar is open to any church anywhere.


Our panel includes pastors and  church leaders that have experienced a merger, authors of a book on church mergers, church consultants and attorney.

We will record the live panel discussion on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. CST and anticipate a 90 minute discussion

Registration is FREE but seats are limited

Feel free to forward this invitation to any church or organization that you think could benefit or contribute to our discussion.

We included Acquisitions the discussion because many are using this as a method of obtaining off site locations for their ministry.

If for some reason you cannot join us for the live call be sure you register to get access to the recording, which will be posted immediately following the conclusion of the live call.


Sponsored by: Service Realty, Inc.
Produced by:

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• Tuesday, November 08th, 2011

The unusual October snow storm that hit New England brought down power lines and left my town without power for several very cold days. I found it disconcerting – being without heat and power. I attributed a growing anxiety to my age and the awareness that my well balanced life was out of whack. Plus – there was a sense of isolation: neither house phone or cell phone would work and the only news was from my small transistor radio. I knew it was a bad, wide spread storm, but it wasn’t until my own power came back on that I realized the true devastation of this storm on the lives of so many people throughout many states.

My family in New York state were without power for a week. As I write this – 10 days after the storm – some communities are still struggling and many people remain in shelters. Hundreds of thousands of people suffered from this storm.

Which makes my grousing about being without power and heat for 48 hours seem minor and petty. Really – it’s hardly worth mentioning my personal angst when considering the bigger picture of all those impacted by the storm.

The reason I mention my experience – and my sense of disquiet – is because I believe there’s a parallel between having one’s personal world turn upside down by the unexpected – and the feelings that are evoked when one realizes their beloved church may have to close. Like me feeling isolated, I believe that many parishioners’ first reaction to their church facing closure is very personal. “This terrible change is impacting MY CHURCH, MY LIFE, MY UNIVERSE! I am the one who’s parents went to the church, who got married in this church, who worked on all the ham and bean suppers. What will I do?”

And then one day – during a service, in a committee meeting, talking to a friend – there is the realization that the pain and sadness is shared. “I’m not the only one losing my beloved church.” Other have equally fond memories – others are angry, upset, bereft and feeling lost.

When your church is facing a tough transition – it’s understandable to internalize. But then the next thought is “What will the congregation do?” Then consider: “What about our older members, our young adults, the children, our shut ins, the disenfranchised, our staff, future visitors – and the community as a whole.” All are diminished by a change to a religious community.

During the October storm, everyone hunkered during the snow and wind. When the storm cleared – we left our homes (often with shovels in hand) and began to check on one another – to help one another.

If your church is in transition – is facing a sale, a merger, a closure – your sense of being out of balance is understandable. But then step out and consider all the others who share your sadness – and need your strong support. And – in turn – will support you.