Welcome to Vital+Thriving!

How do congregations adapt and flourish in trying times? How do we unlock our capacity to build beloved community? How do we discern God’s promised and intended future? Vital+Thriving is designed to help you explore these questions with your congregation.

“Vital+Thriving Congregations” (V+T) is a ministry learning hub developed for the congregations of the Episcopal Diocese of California through a special partnership with Newbigin House of Studies. We’ve created a space where your congregation can join with others for support, to learn missional practices, and enter a process of collective discernment as we emerge from the pandemic. We’re committed to walking with you as you seek to discover your next steps. This will be a space for support, mutual learning as well as a pathway for seed funding as you discern your congregation’s unique missional challenge.

Check this site or follow us on social media to learn about new podcasts, webinars and training opportunities as they become available.

Partnership for the Missional Church is the core process we’re inviting congregations to participate in beginning this Fall. (We currently have a pilot cohort of 13 congregations actively engaged is testing the process). To learn more about the PMC process and how your congregation can get involved, click here.

Using the tools and skills of human centered design, we’ll engage your congregation in a multi-stage design thinking process of listening, reflecting, and discerning of your distinctive story: Who are we? Where are we now? The Diocese will be providing seed funding for experiments to help your congregation discover new things by trying new things. You’ll learn how to deepen your existing connections to your neighborhood, forge new relationships with neighbors, and collaborate with individuals and groups already working for the common good in your community. We hope to develop congregations that are truer to the vision of Jesus, and along the way, to identify opportunities for new expressions of church.

We look forward to supporting you and your congregation in this next season of ministry!

Meet the Vital+Thriving Resource Team


Scot Sherman is an Episcopal Priest, the Founder and Executive Director of Newbigin House of Studies, a center for graduate theological education and spiritual formation based in San Francisco, and a member of the consortial faculty at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. 

Patrick Keifert is Director of Research and Consulting at Newbigin House of Studies. He founded the Church Innovations Institute and has worked with hundreds of congregations and dozens of denominations on four continents. He is also professor emeritus of systematic theology at Luther Seminary.

Amy Cook serves as the Episcopal Diocese of California’s Canon for Formation. She advises formation ministries for adults, including organizing and planning diocesan-wide learning events and retreats as well as referring clergy, staff, vestries, and leaders to resources they can use. Learn more >


Claire Dietrich Ranna co-hosts the Vital+Thriving Congregations podcast and serves as the Rector of Christ Church Los Altos. She also serves as Chaplain to Ventana School, is a member of the Los Altos Rotary Club, and serves on the board of Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos. Rev. Claire's husband, Haamid Shahzad, was born and raised in Pakistan and identifies as Muslim. They have two young children. Learn More >

Organizational Partners

The Diocese of California

The Episcopal Diocese of California serves a diverse community of faith encompassing the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Approximately 24,000 people form 75 congregations and the diocese is organized into six deaneries (a geographical group of parishes). Learn more >

Newbigin House of Studies

Newbigin House of Studies is developing leaders through theological education. By training and mentoring a new generation of missional leaders, in partnership with churches and seminaries, we are committed to renewing a vision for Christian ministry in a rapidly changing world. Learn more >


Want to Connect?

Email: info@newbiginhouse.org

Phone: 415-287-9671

Mail: Newbigin House of Studies
PO Box 27690
San Francisco, CA 94127