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Best Practices of Orthodox Parish Councils

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1) Each parish council member accepts responsibility for the maintenance of their own spiritual condition and leaves bias, conflicts of interest, political points of view, personal animosity, etc. at the door prior to the prayer beginning the meeting.

a. Worship and sacramental life b. Prayer life c. Relationship with God and others

2) The council focuses on the mission of the parish and advocates for the parish

a. Shapes and upholds the mission b. Articulates a compelling vision of the mission c. Maintains consistency with the mission in decisions, values, policies and actions d. Listens carefully to parishioner concerns and responds promptly and appropriately

3) Supports and works well with the priest

a. Understands that the priest manages the parish office (sometimes needs help todo this) b. Accepts priest’s role to lead the community and the parish council chair’s role to lead the parish council c. Understands that the parish council’s role is to govern (policy formulation, strategic intent, fiduciary oversight, faithful to Orthodoxy, advocacy, fundraising) d. Appropriately and sensitively provides feedback to the priest concerning his ministry with the purpose of assisting him to become more effective e. Attends to the wellbeing of the priest and his family to avoid burnout

4) Thinks and acts strategically

a. Allocates time to what matters most b. Continuously monitors the environment to hone the direction of the parish c. Regularly asks the question, “What do we wish to become?” d. Insists on strategic planning e. Works at not focusing on operational and tactical issues though at times this is unavoidable, especially in thinly staffed parishes

5) Develops a culture of transparency and trustworthiness

a. Ensures that parishioners have access to appropriate and accurate information regarding finances, operations and results b. Posts financial statements and council minutes publicly

6) Holds themselves accountable

a. Completes regular parish council member self-assessment b. Completes regular overall parish council assessment

7) Acts oriented toward results

a. Continuously measures progress toward mission fulfillment b. Together with the priest evaluates efficiency, effectiveness, and impact of major programs and services

8) Plans for revitalization and renewal

a. Accepts the importance of fresh perspectives b. Energizes the council through planned turnover and thoughtful, continuous recruitment

9) Develops and incorporates a Conflict of Interest policy

a. Members abstain from voting when there is a potential conflict of interest b. Members ensure arm’s length negotiations c. Members disclose conflict of interest whenever necessary

10) Embraces the professional board development process

a. Maintains a functioning governance committee b. Annual retreat – even if only a half-day together c. Provides and maintains board member manual

11) Models good stewardship

a. Insists on 100% member participation in generously giving time, talent and treasure b. Faithfully attends meetings c. Completes tasks on time and with best effort

12) Participates in fundraising to finance programs and ministries of the parish

a. Assists with annual stewardship effort b. Supports fundraising events c. Identifies and cultivates potential major donors d. Gives personally meaning gift to capital campaigns e. If possible, remembers parish in estate plans to fund the endowment

13) Accepts responsibility for fiduciary oversight

a. Links bold visions and ambitious plans to financial support b. Approves activities that can be realistically financed with existing or attain able resources c. Always has financials audited by independent committee or external CPA d. Background checks on all those who have hands on responsibility for funds e. Openly discusses annual budget before presenting to general assembly

14) Formulates policy with reference to the mission of the parish in light of the gospel


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