The Rev. Charles N. Fulton, III, president of the Episcopal Church Building Fund (ECBF), has announced his intention to retire in the fall of 2008. Fulton also serves as director of Congregational Development at the Episcopal Church Center.
"Father Fulton's 20 years of service with the Building Fund, including 17 years as president, have witnessed remarkable growth in the scale and importance of its activities within the Episcopal Church," said board chairman, former Bishop Gethin B. Hughes of San Diego. "Charles' unique combination of personal and professional qualities has enabled him to lead the Building Fund into the proactive area of congregational development for the Church as well as continuing its traditional work as a key funding source for new Church plantings and rehabilitation and improvements of existing Church facilities. Charles will be sorely missed."
Trained in architecture, followed by 15 years as rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Franklin, Tennessee, a pastoral size congregation that he doubled to a program congregation, Fulton was called to the ECBF in 1987, assuming the role of president in 1990. He created a planning process for congregations engaged in building projects, authoring Church Sites and Building, Process Guide for Congregations. He created two resources on liturgical design, authoring "The Church for Common Prayer," "A Statement on Worship Space for the Episcopal Church," and was the associate producer of the video "Churches for Common Prayer." He also designed the liturgical space at the Philadelphia and Denver General Convention sites.
In keeping with the ECBF mission of "Helping Build the Church, and Helping the Church to Build," Fulton moved the Fund from a loan-only focus to one including congregational vitality. He developed an application of the theory of congregational life cycle and guidelines for gathering people that support a positive outcome. His use of humor and irreverent style earned him the nickname as the 'James Carville of the Episcopal Church' as he became a national consultant, workshop leader, and keynote speaker for dioceses and international gatherings on issues of congregational health and development.
Fulton leads the popular training events "Start Up!Start Over!" Congregational Development Seminar and "Upward Bound -- Leading Congregations Through Change, Decisions, and Conflict." In 2001, he was appointed by former Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, III as director of Congregational Development for the Episcopal Church, while continuing his role as ECBF president. Fulton initiated a national conference for new church development, "Plant My Church," developed with the Gallup Organization as an assessment tool to identify new church planters, and initiated a Lilly-funded national research project on new church starts. He created bi-annual consultations of Diocesan Congregational Development Staff and is pleased to leave as a legacy the full-time researcher position he created for the national church.
A graduate of Auburn University in Alabama and General Theological Seminary in New York, Fulton began his ministry as a curate and then assistant at St. George's Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee, before serving as the rector of St. Paul's. Fulton is married to Donna Kay and they have two adult children.
According to Hughes, the Board has initiated an intensive search process, led by the Rev. Ralph R. (Hap) Warren, Jr., rector of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, in Palm Beach, Florida, to find Fulton's successor. For more information visit: http://www.ecbf.org/