A Gathering of Benefits Leaders
“Good communication builds trust. And trust builds healthy organizations.” This is what Esslie Hughes told a packed room as she and Chontel Simmons, both of the Diocese of New York, led a dynamic seminar on Shaping a Diocese for the 21st Century at the annual Episcopal Business Administration Conference (EBAC). They were among nearly 130 administrators from more than 70 US dioceses, 12 dioceses from other countries, 12 parishes, and two other Episcopal organizations who gathered near our home office in October to take a closer look at CPG’s vision for the future and to share best practices with each other. Many participants counted the number of times they had attended on two hands or more! They traveled from California and Texas, from Kentucky and Florida, from Vermont and the Virgin Islands—and, for the first time, even from Cuba and Taiwan.
As CPG- Senior Vice President, Integrated Benefits Account Management Services (IBAMS), Laurie Kazilionis explained, “We have regular conversations with administrators about their needs, but EBAC is a special time to come together and talk about the future. The relationships we have formed with the administrators we serve come to life at this meeting. They tell us what they think about our programs and future plans, and we learn from their reactions. It’s a very productive meeting. It’s also a lot of fun.”
Networking was nonstop during breaks between sessions on post-General Convention strategies, research findings on lay employee retirement readiness, and updates on changes to pension, health, disability, and life insurance benefits.
Perhaps you have never thought about starting a church in a YMCA aerobics studio or about combating poverty and homelessness by taking your ministry to a coffeehouse, a bicycle shop, a food truck, or even a bar. For the Rev. Mike Michie, of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, these adaptations to the change around us are examples of the type of Bold, Creative, and Courageous Leadership that could work for some Episcopal institutions. The animated crowd peppered Father Michie with questions about applying the strategies of visionary church planters to their own leadership. “We have to change our ways,” he told those gathered. “There are lessons and opportunities all around. We just have to know where to look.”
Another highlight of this year’s EBAC was a conversation with CPG’s Church Publishing author Judith Marsh Carlson about her book, First Order of Business: 12-Minute Bible Reflections to Open Church Meetings.
For the second year in a row, EBAC attendees included Spanish-speaking members from Province IX and La Iglesia Anglicana de la Región Central de America. We provided simultaneous interpretation and materials in Spanish—and in the session on International Ministry, we turned the tables: To give English-speakers a sense of what EBAC is like for those who are more fluent in other languages, native English-speakers listened to simultaneous translation through headphones while the moderator and panelists spoke only Spanish.
Take a look at the photos from this year’s conference. Even if you do not see yourself, chances are you will see someone you know.