New web-based app automates Episcopal parish register portion of the annual parochial report

Posted Jan 16, 2024

A new web-based parish register app not only allows users to add data about every church service to be compiled for the required parochial report, it also can display information about worship services in a variety of graphs. Photo: Screenshot of app demonstration video

[Episcopal News Service] The General Convention Office has released a new web-based app that helps tally items on the annual parochial report relating to church services and attendance.

The parish register app allows users to track aspects of every liturgy that takes place in their congregation and then adds that data to the church’s parochial report, the Rev. Molly James, deputy executive officer of General Convention, told Episcopal News Service. Every congregation in The Episcopal Church is required to complete the parochial report annually. This year’s report based on 2023 data is due March 1.

“It tracks everything related to worship, so that at the end of the year, when you go to fill out the parochial report, the number of Eucharists you have, the number of baptisms, your average Sunday attendance – all of the math is done for you,” she said. Data that is entered during 2024 will be compiled for the parochial report that is filed in 2025.

The availability of the new app was first announced in the General Convention Office’s December 2023 newsletter.

The app is designed to work on a variety of devices – computer, tablet or phone – using an internet browser, James said, so it can be accessed anywhere. She noted that some church offices may not have robust internet connection, but a user could enter data on a phone, or even note Sunday’s numbers and add them later from home.

A section of the app also clarifies how to count online worshipers, James said, using two metrics – unique live views of an online stream and unique recorded views of an online stream during the week.

But beyond automating part of the report data, James said it also provides users with the ability to see the data visually through graphs in a variety of formats. To create that feature, the General Convention Office collaborated with outside vendor Worship Times. “The IT department has custom-built filing sites, but we needed someone with expertise to make our graphical user interface on the front end,” she said.

The Rev. Chris Rankin, who served as chair of the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church from 2018 to 2022 and has worked on aspects of the parochial report, told ENS by email, “It is great there is an online tool that can populate the parochial report. It will make life easier for people and will make it clear what to track and how.”

The app requires users to create a log-in using the unique user identity for each congregation, which is searchable in the app by church name. It then walks users through the data they can enter. A video explaining the log-in process, as well as how to use the app, also is on the app website.

James said that once a user sets up an account and starts using the app, if they have questions they can be sent to a special email address at the General Convention Office.

–Melodie Woerman is a freelance writer and former director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas.