$1.7M for New Ministry in the Episcopal Church: What Happens Next?

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It is challenging to name a way of changing the church for the better through budgeting alone. In 2012, The Episcopal Church’s budget decided to do just that.

Believing that funding innovative ministries at the local level could provide new models from which the whole church could learn, The Episcopal Church distributed 38 grants totaling roughly $1.7 million for Mission Enterprise Zones and Church Plants in 2013 and 2014. As these grants required matching funds, $3.5 million was raised toward fostering creative ways to be the Body of Christ in differing contexts.

Ultimately, though, the measure of the success of each of these grantees isn’t measured in their ability to raise funds. It’s in their ability to spread the Good News of God in Jesus Christ in each of their communities, and in the process, change lives.

The Acts 8 Moment is following up with each grant recipient to report on the work and discover what grant recipients are learning. With more than a quarter of the stories in, here is some of what we have discovered:

1. Thomasville, GA  – Breaking Down Divisions
Three Episcopal churches in Thomasville, Georgia, founded in racial and doctrinal differences are working together to help the residents develop a plan to help themselves-a plan that will initially allow them to address neighborhood hunger, and later, empower them to address many of the other issues that are facing their community.
(See more: Community Development in Georgia)

2. Minneapolis, MN – Reaching Lost Sheep
Toua Vang recalls how his Hmong community felt like lost sheep, without a place for them to gather as God’s people. A Church Planting Grant underwrites the work Vang is doing in Minneapolis, but also “Hmong/Southeast Asia Ministry Probes” among Hmong in Olympia, Washington and Colorado.
(See more: Flinging open our doors to Hmong among us)

3. Santa Paula, CA – Sustainable Discipleship
See what grows out of an Episcopal/Lutheran campus ministry when they acquire a 4-acre farm and open up The Abundant Table in radically inclusive hospitality. This church start is also an Episcopal Service Corps site offering an internship combining communal living, work on the farm, learning about food injustice and self-sufficiency skills.
(See more: Communion on the farm)

4. Boynton Beach, FL – Unplug from the Noise of Life
St. Joe’s Unplugged is a mission of St. Joseph’s in Boynton Beach, Florida, whose focus is to attract people in their 20s and 30s, the unchurched, the de-churched, and those looking for a Fresh Expression of worship. They are learning to risk experiential opportunities in worship and to provide means for leadership and outreach.
(See more: Finding a new groove in Florida)

5. Birmingham, AL – A Coffee Shop with a Church
The Abbey is a new church start in Birmingham, Alabama, influenced by the tradition of monks and nuns teaching, nursing, crafting, and even brewing beer to both support themselves and to bring ordinary folks into contact with religious life. This dedicated team has learned a lot from the courage and faith needed to start something wholly new.
(See more: Sinners. Saints. Coffee.)

6. Pa’auilo, HI – Rebirth of Community and Connection
More than a century after its founding, St. Columba’s Episcopal Mission in Pa’auilo, Hawai’i, was down to a handful of the faithful as a preaching station of a neighboring church. They are now experiencing the joy and growing pains of rebirth into a multi-denominational, multicultural, multi-generational congregation.
(See more: Resurrection on the Big Island)

7. Asheville, NC – The Church in the World
As sacred space in a secular world, Kairos West Community Center in West Asheville, North Carolina, empowers emerging local leadership through art, liturgy, and social service in the spirit of Jesus. Kairos offers a neutral, open meeting ground and place for collaboration across sub-cultural, socio-economic and racial lines.
(See more: A subversive catalyst for the Gospel)

8. Spokane, WA – Youth Discover Mission in Spokane
In the Diocese of Spokane, the assets and needs of both community and church came together to form a mission exchange bringing youth groups in for short-term missions in two locations. The Pacific Inland Northwest Exchange takes youth out of their home town and shows them poverty somewhere else, where they can see it clearly, so they will have eyes to see the impact of poverty once they are back home.
(See more: Seeing Christ in others)

9. Biddeford, ME – Blue Collar Ministry
Since its founding in 1869, Christ Church in Biddeford, Maine, existed for the mill workers near the church. Attendance dwindled after the mill closed. Rather than focus inward, the remaining church members charted a course that could result in the discontinuance of regular worship services in order to focus on the creation of what the church was to become—The Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center.
(See more: Finding Jubilee in Maine)

And the Rest…
This series is continuing as new reports on these ministries are added week by week to the acts8moment.org site. You may also subscribe to these reports via RSS: http://www.acts8moment.org/category/stories/feed/

Spanish Ministry in Los Angeles

This is the ninth in a series of reports on initiatives funded through the budget of The Episcopal Church in its grants to Mission Enterprise Zones. Acts 8 Moment also has a series of reports on those receiving Church Planting Grants.

On the westside of Los Angeles there is a compact community called Palms that is known to have a dense and diverse population. Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 3.54.39 PMAt the intersection of Watseka Avenue and Faris Drive you will find St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. Due to Palms’ dense population, St. Mary’s plays a vital role by hosting the only hispanic service within five miles of the church. Folks can attend a Spanish mass on Sundays at 1:00 pm along with English speaking services throughout the week as well.

With 40% of the congregation being hispanic, it is hard to ignore the need for a ministry dedicated to this population. With the grant money St. Mary’s was able to hire a quarter time priest. So far St. Mary’s has received half of the grant. The grant pays for the Rev. Juan Barragan’s salary and for other expenses. These expenses include things like educational materials and musicians. The grant is simply allowing St. Mary’s to keep this existing ministry going under the leadership of a new priest.

In regards to this ministry, it’s all hands on deck. Since Barragan is only there for a quarter of the time, he emphasizes the importance of support from the congregation. Through283045_250880514931377_6979339_n a dedicated network of volunteers, they help each other to do everything. Barragan notes that they are a young congregation in which they offer their time and are eager to help. They work together to go over financial needs, prepare bulletins, and music. Volunteers will also host yard sales, youth lots, and sell meals after mass to fundraise for other aspects of the ministry.

As of right now, there about 25 to 35 people attending the Spanish Mass on Sundays along with Sunday School and Christian Education. By going to door to door and visiting supermarkets and handing out information, Barragan insists it is the most ideal way to invite people to church. He explains that, “they come to the church because they feel the necessity to be a part of God’s Kingdom.” This is evident in their eagerness to love God and their neighbors. As purported by their website, “St. Mary’s congregation is small in number and large in love for God, for one another, and for all of God’s creation.”

One way to share God’s love is to welcome people by making church a more personal experience. Barragan does this by reassuring congregants, “you are not a number in the church, you are a person that we tgcare about.” An interesting way of communicating this message is through the phone. Through this outreach tool, Barragan is able to take pastoral care to another level, with Facebook, texts, phone calls, and the Internet. This seems like evidence that the Kingdom of God can happen here and now, at the speed of light.

Young Adult Ministry Development Team

This is the eighth in a series of reports on initiatives funded through the budget of The Episcopal Church in its grants to Mission Enterprise Zones. Acts 8 Moment also has a series of reports on those receiving Church Planting Grants.

The years from 18 to 35 offer a very difficult transition period for many young adults. Many worry about finding a job and more importantly finding something meaningful to do with their lives. They worry for the state of the world and want to positively impact their community. And for many who grew up active in churches as teens, this can also be a time of disengagement with any community of faith of any kind. The Diocese of Iowa is actively working with the young adults in the diocese to bridge this divide and a Mission Enterprise Zone from The Episcopal Church is helping to fund that work.

Lydia Bucklin (pictured here at EDS with her family) is a seminarian in the Distance Learning Program at Episcopal Divinity School and the Diocese of Iowa’s Missioner for Young Adults. As a part of here Field Education for seminary, she met with a group of young adults who had grown up in diocesan youth ministry, but who were no longer attending church. She wanted to know why there seemed to be a disconnect between the needs of young adults and what the church was offering. She reports, “I heard from them that they wanted to remain connected to one another and that distance did not necessarily need to be a barrier.”

She used her field placement as an opportunity to create an intentional community for young adults called “The Well”. The Well is a hybrid community that includes a Facebook page, regular gatherings through Adobe Connect video conferencing, and regional in-person gatherings inAmes, Cedar Falls, Des Moines, and Monticello. Currently, there are more than fifty members in this community throughout Iowa and beyond. Bucklin saysm “We celebrated Christmas with dinner at church, Passover at the bishop’s house, had a week-long summer retreat, went boating and had Eucharist at a park around a picnic table, and ultimately together have formed a spiritual community that holds one another in prayer and celebrates the joys and challenges of life together.”

Her work expanded to the creation of a Young Adult Ministry Development Team (YAMDT) for the Diocese. Ministry Development Teams are built around an understanding of baptismal ministry, a collaborative way of being, in which all gifts are honored and all voices are heard.

The Mission Enterprise Zone grant, which required matching funds through the Diocese of Iowa, has provided the ability to gather the Young Adult Ministry Development Team and to host a variety of events around the diocese focused on young adult ministry. The Young Adult Ministry Development Team now consists of a group of more than 35 people passionate about ministering with and among young adults in the Diocese of Iowa. They represent congregations in rural and urban areas, with young adults both on and off of college campuses. More than half of our members are under the age of 30.

One of the YAMDT’s first tasks, when they gathered in February, 2014, was to define young adulthood and to explore what life looks like for this particular social location. Young adults, for the purpose of our ministry, are those post high school, roughly between the ages of 18-35. The diversity of this population is great. With some in college (universities, private colleges, and community colleges), others working full time, some serving in the armed forces, some living at home with their parents, some with children of their own, and many financially insecure.

In late June, the Diocese and the YAMDT hosted “Camp Ruah”, a retreat for young adults ages 18-40 as an opportunity for refreshment and renewal. Each day included opportunities for spiritual direction, meditation, worship, fellowship, and physical wellness. The Pictured Rocks Camp provided a climbing wall, the Maquoketa caves, many hiking trails, outdoor worship space, an olympic sized pool, and a river for exploration and tubing.

As the YAMDT gathered, they could point to some hopeful signs of engagement with young adults happening around their Diocese. In addition to The Well, some examples include:

  • St. Paul’s, Grinnell which bakes birthday cakes and delivers them to students on campus. They have been doing this ministry for more than 60 years and hear from students and parents that this gift means so much, with birthdays as one of the hardest times to be away from home for many students.
  • A number of church communities, such as St. John’s in Dubuque, Trinity in Muscatine, and Trinity Cathedral in Davenport, have hosted meals for young adults, providing an opportunity for fellowship and deeper conversation.
  • The Cathedral Church of St. Paul launched a Saturday evening service that met both outdoors and in the smaller Chapel space. The alternative worship time and format seemed to draw in a number of young adults.
  • The Church of the Savior, Orange City, a relatively new church plant located in a house on the edge of campus that continues to fill their space each week with students from Northwestern College.
  • Threehouse, a campus ministry at the University of Northern Iowa in partnership with the United Methodist Church is truly a “third space” and an example of radical hospitality. Hundreds of students utilize the space, which includes a rotating art gallery, innovative worship space, a community kitchen, meeting rooms, a game room, and a large space for dance and fitness classes in the basement.
  • James Tener, Campus Chaplain at Iowa State University engages students through music with the choir, as well as other Episcopal students on campus in regular programing and formation. Jim and the students at ISU are in the process of planning a spiritual retreat for college students that will most likely take place during the upcoming school year.
  • The University of Iowa in Iowa City continues to invite students into the powerful ministry of the Agape Café, a weekly feeding program that serves breakfast free of charge at Old Brick, a historical building located on the campus of the University of Iowa. The Rev. Raisin Horn’s pastoral presence and engagement with students, faculty, and staff weaves the campus ministry into the fabric of Trinity, Iowa City.

So how can a congregation or diocese reach such a vastly diverse population as young adults? Bucklin says, “I believe the answer lies in the hands of the local community.” Congregations can ask “Who are your young adult neighbors?” The members of the YAMDT, bolstered by the examples above, believe there are things every community might do to reach out to this population. With assistance from the Mission Enterprise Zone Grant they are continuing to gather and to explore how best to support this ministry to the 18-35 year olds in their midst who are navigating a difficult transition period in their lives.

Latino Ministry and Going Door to Door

This is the tenth in a series of reports on initiatives funded through the budget of The Episcopal Church in its grants to Mission Enterprise Zones. Acts 8 Moment also has a series of reports on those receiving Church Planting Grants.

Is evangelism something Episcopalians are known for? What kind of reaction do you think you will get when you tell someone you’re going to go door to door to get more people into your church? More recently, you would get a negative reaction. Evangelism is not what we typically do. In fact, it is definitely something we should do.

After chatting with Dennis McManis, Canon for Mission and Outreach in the Diocese of Southwest Florida, he explained that is exactly what they do. This diocese is working on developing a Latino Leadership Ministry. He explains, for a priest to be successful, “the priest needs to walk the streets, go door to door.” By word of mouth and personal invitations, they were able to gain interest in a couple of families and then things took off from there. McManis emphasizes it’s about risk taking, “don’t be afraid to take a chance.”

0304-Cursillo-127-Spanish1When reaching out to the hispanic community, an important question to ask is, “what can we do for you and your family?” Right now St. Mary’s in Palmetto has a Hispanic Service every Sunday at 1 p.m. In addition, by offering first communion classes, the parents that come with their children end up being confirmed as well. Last easter there were 45 confirmands and last month they had 40 confirmations and nine baptisms. The diocese had their first Spanish Cursillo last spring and it was extremely successful, they already have a waiting list for the next event.

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After attending a conference on Latino ministry, McManis learned the key to a healthy congregation is lay leaders, and possibly a deacon to go out into the community. He also learned that you don’t necessarily need a Spanish speaking priest as Latinos know the sacramental part of the Mass. Thus, the grant is allowing this diocese to raise up Latino Ministry Leaders. McManis’ vision is to work with the diocese’s seven Lati10294499_399752306869030_880216754449742589_nno worshipping communities which will identify five English speaking and five Spanish speaking potential leaders from each church. Through training and workshops, the plan is to discern the gifts and needs of each church. Then, through their diocesan School for Ministry Development, training will occur for these leaders in the church’s seven canonical areas for licensing lay people.

To date they have completed workshops for one church, underwrote the Cursillo, provided training in the use of the Book of Common Prayer and the training of Eucharistic Visitors. McManis noted that just a couple of years ago, the diocese had two Latino congregations and today they have seven and are foreseeing more growth in the future.  It is his hope that they can develop Spanish courses for the formation of deacons in the future.

The concept arose from Richard Lambert’s doctoral thesis. The only setback McManis spoke of was when Lambert retired, the process was delayed. With this delay very little of the grant has been spent to date, but McManis feels they are well positioned to realize the full capacity of the grant this year.  McManis noted how there were so many people interested in volunteering their time and resources that the grant money allows them to explore opportunities for creative programming.

Cooking Up Justice in Virginia

This is the seventh in a series of reports on initiatives funded through the budget of The Episcopal Church in its grants to Mission Enterprise Zones. Acts 8 Moment also has a series of reports on those receiving Church Planting Grants.

Moving from merely feeding people to opening the door to long term lifestyle changes is far from easy. Trinity Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, is seeking to do just that as they tackle issues of food, health, and justice through a creative garden and kitchen ministry. Their Bread and Roses ministry seeks to transform lifestyle choices surrounding the acquisition, cooking and eating of food in an urban context. The ministry came together out of a year-long consideration in which members of Trinity studied Thomas Keller’s Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just. Using the book as a guide, they focused not only on the biblical foundation of justice, but also on what that justice might look in their community involvement.

“There’s not only a need to feed people, but to attempt to address some of the systemic issues behind that hunger,” said Bailey. “This ministry is really geared toward transformation, and really trying to change the way people think and relate to food. We are interested in long-term and lifestyle changes.”

One issue is that food assistance to low income families comes largely in canned food and instant soup and other non-perishable food. Not only are they poor on nutrition, but these low cost options high in sugar content which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other health issues. Even when non-profit gardens offer mounds of fresh produce, that only works if those receiving the food know how to cook the fresh vegetables they receive.

Trinity’s Vicar, the Rev. Cass Bailey, says, “O.K., you get fresh food, but then how are you going to cook it? What ways do we need to learn and re-learn how we prepare our foods in order to get the most taste and the most nutrients from them?”

Founded in 1919 as a Diocesan mission in the historically black neighborhood of Vinegar Hill, Trinity has a history of being engaged in the community. Using a garden to better its neighborhood is a logical extension of that history. Partnering with health care professionals, farmers, and other churches, Bread and Roses uses its garden and kitchen to teach low-income residents to cook unfamiliar foods, to preserve produce so it can be eaten out of season, and to create meals that bring the family together.

In the initial phases of the Bread and Roses Ministry, Trinity raised $70,000 of the $90,000 project total to renovate its kitchen. The commercial-grade kitchen will be the hub of the project, offering a place to provide afterschool meals, as well as teach classes on cooking homegrown and farm-produced food. The church also received a $17,000 United Thank Offering grant which provided commercial equipment for the church’s kitchen.

In 2014, Trinity received its Mission Enterprise Zone Grant from the Episcopal Church to fund the second phase of the project in which a staff is hired one day a week during year one and two days a week during year two. The role of this staff person is to foster partnerships within community and oversee program development. Trinity matched the grant with funds from a diocesan Mustard Seed Grant, Region XV and three other Episcopal churches in the Diocese—Christ Church, Charlottesville; St. Paul’s, Ivy; and St. Paul’s Memorial, Charlottesville.

“One of the things we are trying to do with this effort, given our size and the scope of what we want to accomplish, we really can’t do by ourselves,” said Bailey. “We really need to rely on partnerships with other churches and community organizations. We began this ministry by really focusing on establishing those partnerships and relationships with other churches.”

By summer 2014, the garden in front of the chapel was burgeoning with raised beds of cabbages, tomatoes, greens beside the parking lot and a rock garden in the rear of the property. Benches for contemplation add to the inviting grounds. All ages, abilities of volunteers gathered at the garden on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4:30-6 p.m.; Saturday mornings from 9 a.m.-noon; and Sundays after church. The church uses this garden and their kitchen to teach about food from seed to soup.

www.trinityepiscopalcville.org

Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center

This is the sixth in a series of reports on initiatives funded through the budget of The Episcopal Church in its grants to Mission Enterprise Zones. Acts 8 Moment also has a series of reports on those receiving Church Planting Grants.

Since 1869, Christ Episcopal Church in Biddeford, Maine had lived into being the blue collar church it was created to be. For many years this meant being the parish church for mill workers who were primarily coming from England for work. After the mill closed, the church membership dwindled down as the local economy took a major hit.

This is not an uncommon story in the area. In Maine, one in every 8 people live below the poverty line and don’t always have enough food to meet their family’s basic needs. Food insecurity is 43% higher than the average of other New England states and ranks 11th highest in the nation. In the Biddeford School System more than 50% of the children participate in the reduced or free lunch program.

By 2006, Christ Church could no longer afford its 3/4-time priest and in 2007 the congregation called the Rev. Shirley Bowen to be its half-time priest in charge. Bowen could see that as the community around the church was comprised of poor, working class families, growing the church attendance would not secure the congregation’s finances. But given its location, church members could also see the great needs in Biddeford. The church already hosted multiple community organizations in its parish hall and the 15 congregants felt that the church’s mission was to serve those in need. With its small endowment, the church could afford to once more reduce the time expectations on clergy and stay open for many more years. But the congregation decided to take a different path.

Bowen and the remaining church members charted a course that could result in the discontinuance of regular worship services in order to focus on the creation of what the church was to become—The Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center. To support this move, Christ Church applied in 2008 to the national Episcopal Church’s Jubilee Ministries office to become Maine’s second Jubilee Ministry site. Jubilee Ministries offer “a ministry of joint discipleship in Christ with poor and oppressed people, wherever they are found, to meet basic human needs and to build a just society”. Together with the other center, Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston, they seek to partner with others in the community to aid their town, both of which are small towns with big city problems.

The new initiative opened a drop-in center in September 2008. The next month, the Diocese of Maine’s annual convention approved Seeds of Hope as a Jubilee Ministry Center. Providing support to the people of Biddeford, Maine and surrounding communities, Seeds of Hope offers a drop-in center that offers hospitality to any who show up at their doors. They seek “to offer hope for those who are struggling, care for those in need, advocacy for those who have been silenced, companionship for those who are alone, and compassionate love for all.”

The center is now open 9 am to 1 pm, Tuesday through Friday and offers a continental breakfast and lunch, donated clothing, a career resource center which includes free internet use for job searches, a twice monthly In A Pinch program for necessary items not covered by Food Stamps, and occasional events with health education. The center is staffed by trained volunteers to facilitate the needs of those using the center. The volunteers offer a hospitality of presence with a cup of coffee, expanded continental breakfast/lunch and a warm comfortable space. Volunteers serve as a resource to neighbors who need anything from a sympathetic ear to accessing local forms of assistance. Seeds of Hope collaborates with other local health and human services organizations and churches to be sure our efforts are complimenting each other and better serving those who seek assistance.

Christ Episcopal Church continues its weekly Eucharist at 10 a.m. Sunday and from April through September also offers Twilight Tuesdays at 7 pm with “music, meditation, musings.”

The Episcopal Church Foundation captured the Seeds of Hope story well in their article the Vestry Papers: Vestry Papers: Seeds of Hope

www.christchurchbiddeford.org
seedsofhope4me.org

Pacific Inland Northwest Exchange

This is the fifth in a series of reports on initiatives funded through the budget of The Episcopal Church in its grants to Mission Enterprise Zones. Acts 8 Moment also has a series of reports on those receiving Church Planting Grants.


The Pacific Inland Northwest Exchange is a mission exchange program operated as a ministry of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane supported by the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane. PINE works in partnership with the West Central Episcopal Mission and Between the Ridges on the Yakama Reservation. PINE invites youth groups from within or outside our Diocese to spend a week serving at mission sites in Spokane and the Yakima Valley. Adults accompany those under 18, as young as 10. Groups are placed in sites which match their interest so that the work on the mission can translate into outreach they can continue in their home communities.

Michelle Klippert, youth minister at the Cathedral of St. John in Spokane, and Tracey Waring, a lay leader at St. Andrew’s in Spokane (Klippert and Waring are pictured at left). The idea for the mission exchange developed out of conversations among youth workers in the Diocese. Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church moved to a model of asset-based community development for ministries. “Looking at the diocese’s assets, the idea of mission trips arose,” Waring said. Between the Ridges, Campbell Farm, the Cathedral, St. Andrew’s and West Central Episcopal Mission decided to create mission opportunities for youth.

In 2014, PINE hosted summer mission experiences for middle- and high-school youthgroups from June 23 to July 18 at the West Central Episcopal Mission in Spokane and from July 21 to August 8 in the Yakima Valley.

In Spokane, youth started the day at a summer food program based in the West Central Episcopal Mission, formerly Holy Trinity Church. Teens served meals and worked with children. In the afternoon, they worked with Our Place, Project Hope and other agencies to do yard cleanup for West Central Neighbors.

In Yakima, youth worked with Campbell Farm’s summer food program in the morning and at different agencies in the afternoon, such as the food bank, Noah’s Ark and a Yakama Indian Nation yard clean-up program.

Late afternoons and early evenings, there was recreation. Every night ended with worship. Participants kept a notebook with responses to questions created to stir theological reflection on what they were doing and why they did it: “Who are my neighbors? Where did I see the face of Christ today?” They also discussed their experiences.

Speaking of the value of this program and others like it, Klippert said, “There is power in taking youth out of their home town and showing them poverty somewhere else, where they can see it clearly,” she said. “Once they recognize poverty, it’s hard to ignore it at home.” Michelle said youth return committed to help people in need in their hometown. A mission trip sets the foundation for their engaging in ministry from helping as acolytes to volunteering at a food bank.

Part of the mission of PINE in Spokane was to run a Stone Soup Café for 10 weeks, serving breakfast and lunch, and offering a program using “Godly Play,” building Bible stories in Lego, music, crafts and other activities.

Dixie, a youth participant, learned that many children don’t have access to art and craft supplies at home.

“Putting a piece of paper in their hand and watching their creative side fly was the best part of working with PINE,” she said.

Over the summer, the Stone Soup Café served 36 three-to-13-year-old children and about 40 teens from Project Hope a total of 4,761 meals. Youth in Project Hope run two urban farms, grow vegetables, mow lawns and sell what they grow in an open market.

Children caught “doing good” earned blessing bucks they used to buy ice cream or school supplies for their backpacks.

In addition to the $20,000 Mission Enterprise Zone grant, Bishop James Waggoner, Jr., contributed $5,000 and spent time with the children. Each youth paid $300 for the week with these fees raising $3,000. The USDA funded food. About $10,000 is left from the grant, and the diocese now includes PINE in its budget.

Kairos West Community Center

This is the fourth in a series of reports on initiatives funded through the budget of The Episcopal Church in its grants to Mission Enterprise Zones. Acts 8 Moment also has a series of reports on those receiving Church Planting Grants.

Many churches offer programs extending beyond the parish. But how might churches build real relationships outside our red doors? Kairos West is a new initiative in Western North Carolina that seeks to be the Church in the world. Funded in part by a Mission Enterprise Zone grant from The Episcopal Church, they are creating a community space that is dedicated to, and steeped in, relationship and community building in order to offer a visible and practical extension of the Church.

As a new work of the Asheville’s Cathedral of All Souls and the Diocese of Western North Carolina, Kairos West Community Center in West Asheville is a sacred space in a secular world. Accessible to all and set apart for community building, Kairos West helps empower emerging local leadership through art, liturgy, and social service in the spirit of Jesus.

The $20,000 Mission Enterprise Zone grant, which was matched locally, enabled the community center to open the doors of its space at 742 Haywood Road in June 2014, as well as create a website and begin hosting gatherings of volunteers and leaders. The cost of the project is actually quite minimal. With no staff costs, the funds raised through grants and donations cover the expenses so the center can offer use of its space for free to groups that fit the mission of Kairos West.

The Rev. Milly Morrow, Canon Missioner for the Cathedral who has overseen the work, says, “Being commerce-free is a core tenet of Kairos West Community Center.  We create space where we subvert the tendency to relate to each other through commerce (the buying and selling of goods and products) and instead make relationship our valued currency.” She adds, “We feel in this way we rid ourselves of many barriers to being truly present with each other and allow for the work of the Spirit to be manifest through our common work for justice and mercy.”

Kairos West Community Center exists to be a place of “radical welcome”. With representation from multiple denominations and a central location, Kairos  offers a neutral, open meeting ground and place for collaboration across sub-cultural, socio-economic and racial lines. Since launching, Kairos has partnered with 16 groups that now use the space, including the Asheville Radical Mental Health Collective, Asheville Youth Mission, Soulspeak youth poetry collective and Asheville Transformers (advocacy and support for the trans community in Asheville). It has also collaborated with Hillcrest Apartments in an early voting March and Roll to the Polls, held a vigil for Ferguson, Missouri, and launched ongoing free food markets and potlucks.

Co-founder Bill Buchanan explains they are not “marketing” to a particular culture nor prescribing what culture should look like — they’re simply catalyzing initiatives and individuals in this community that are meeting those human needs.

“The church’s job is to remind us that we are actually subversive; we need to bring about justice and mercy and love,” adds Morrow.

Among the sacred uses of the space, a group gathers on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Center for Morning Prayer. They chant the prayers and psalms in a service no longer than thirty minutes that allows participants to move into the rest of their day renewed by common prayer.

The group is denominationally diverse. In his role as associate minister of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, Kairos co-founder The Rev. James Lee pastors a largely aging congregation. “If we continue to do church in the same way, it will be a dead church,” he says. “And the black church, as far as being a vibrant part of the African-American community, will no longer exist. What will that mean for the church, and what will that mean for our community?”

For Lee, church buildings can actually divide the community as we gather together with people of similar socio-economic or ethnic backgrounds that do not reflect the community. Kairos then serves as a place that multiple faiths, non-faiths and diverse cultures can gather to further the common cause of justice and community empowerment.

All of the emerging leaders that hold gatherings at Kairos West commit to the core mission, offering their gatherings free of charge and they themselves do not get paid for the work they do at the center. Kairos West in turn supports the leaders with spiritual direction, access to resources for learning, free space and opportunities to build community together and network and organize.

Asked what she has learned through the process of founding the community center, Morrow says, “If I were to begin again, I would have a more diverse core group (age, race, denominations, class, gender, ethnicity, orientation, and unhoused).” She notes that the time to address this is not after the mission statement is written and the grant has come in, but from the very outset.

“The church is, first, the body of Christ,” says Morrow. “The people gathered in remembrance of Christ and Christ’s work in their world. And it’s for us to continue that — which is work of justice and mercy. We as humans don’t always prioritize justice and mercy, and so it is this constant need to subvert that human tendency for commerce, for gaining wealth and power.”

For Morrow, Kairos West is an experiment and it will take some time to assess whether it meets its stated purpose. She says, “It may be that it is a great service to the community for three years and then the energy needs to move on, or it may be at 742 Haywood Street for the next fifty years.” She adds, “As long as we are needed, we will do the work to remain open.”

Kairos West Community Center is a bold experiment, serving as a subversive catalyst for the Gospel beyond the walls of the Church. This empowering of the emerging leader is grounded in Christ’s call to equip the Saints for the work of justice and mercy in our broken world.

kairoswest.wordpress.com

St. Columba’s Church Replant in Pa’auilo, Hawai’i

This is the third in a series of reports on initiatives funded through the budget of The Episcopal Church in its grants to Mission Enterprise Zones. Acts 8 Moment also has a series of reports on those receiving Church Planting Grants.
A Mission Enterprise Zone grant from The Episcopal Church is helping with the rebirth of St. Columba’s Episcopal Mission, in Pa’auilo, Hawai’i. Established in 1898 to serve the owners, managers and workers of the Hamakua Sugar Company, by the 1970s St. Columba’s had become the Filipino Church on the Big island. After the last sugar cane on the Hamakua Coast was harvested in 1996, the mission struggled to keep its doors open. St. Columba’s became a Preaching Station of St. James’ Church, offering a monthly Eucharist for the 8-10 faithful remaining members.

In early 2013, St. James’ congregation asked the Rev. Tom Buechele to help the Rev. David Stout, Rector at St. James, “replant” St. Columba’s. Buechele had been serving as an interim priest at Big Island churches, and felt drawn to explore the mission possibility at St. Columba’s. With a missionary spirit and a great deal of demographic research, the replant got underway.  On Easter Sunday 2013, St. Columba’s was reborn. They are now using a Mission Enterprise Zone Grant in support of their efforts to attract the growing population along the Hamakua Coast, from Kukuihailae to Honokaa to Laupahoehoe. Members of St. James, Waimea, St. Jude, Ocean View, and St. Augustine, Kapa’au helped with the initial replant efforts by making a commitment to walk alongside St. Columba’s Church.

Less than a year into the replant, Buechele moved to the mainland to retire. Without a priest on the island who could lead the church, the congregation turned to a Lay Missioner. Elizabeth Lewin had just completed 2 ½ years of Clinical Pastoral Education (hospital chaplaincy residency). Stout knew Lewin from his tenure at St. Bartholomew’s in New York City and after an interview, he extended a call. Lewin had long felt a call to the priesthood. The opportunity presented her with the chance to explore the local formation program. Stout says, “Elizabeth has been a great asset, greatly gifted in the areas of pastoral care and evangelism.”

Stout notes that the challenge has been providing formation and supervision from a distance.  Elizabeth and Steve McPeek, the congregation’s minister of music, having been raised up for ordination to priesthood, will now begin flying to Oahu once a month for classes and formation.  A new priest to the Island, the Rev. Diana Akiyama, has agreed to serve as Vicar-in-Charge for the next six months. Elizabeth will continue to live in the house on the St. Columba’s property while providing pastoral care and leading evangelism efforts and outreach to youth.

Throughout this time, the membership has been steadily growing. From December 2013 to December 2014, the Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) rose 86% from 23 to 43. Part of that growth has come through on-going attempts to reconnect with families who may have worshiped at St. Columba’s in the past. One way they have sought to do this was by offering a Homecoming Sunday, which brought 65 people to worship and, more importantly, rekindled the connection to history, culture, childhood memories, and life events. Many former members who had moved away after the Plantation shut down have begun coming back to St. Columba’s. They are reclaiming their childhood or ancestral spiritual home.

With the Plantation property being sold, new people are moving into the area and building homes. St. Columba’s is striving to reach out and attract these newcomers. Many of them are from the mainland or other islands. In their very rural part of the Big Island, a significant aspect of St. Columba’s ministry is providing a place of community and connection. The congregation is multi-denominational, multicultural, multi-generational and includes parishioners who are original families from the Plantation era, Filipino, Japanese, Hawai’ian and Haole (Caucasian).

Challenges

  • Because of restrictions, the church cannot put a sign on the highway. So, they used their nearby cemetery for a new sign (pictured here). Banners on the church lawn have also added visibility and promoted initiatives, such as the after school program.
  • Early in the replanting process, St. Columba’s did not have infrastructure to provide care for children that might have come. The old church office was refurbished and dedicated as a children’s room. They also placed a glider in the back of the church for a parent with a baby to use during worship.
  • Despite trying several programs and ministries during the week, they have yet to find one that really attracts participation. They have offered a children’s Bible class and a trained Godly Play storyteller on Wednesdays, a healing service on Wednesdays, Morning Prayer on Mondays, and organized a grounds & planting and a cleaning day.
  • St. Columba’s is especially struggling to find a children’s program offering that works. The church is directly down the hill from the elementary school, yet so far no programs have been effective. They have talked to parents in the community and discovered that one issue is that many children are cared for by their grandparents. Many grandparents (and some parents) don’t have cars, and those that do are using them for work.

  • A recent study in the Church of England revealed that congregations that have a continual pastoral presence in the congregation and community, as opposed to a different person each Sunday, are more likely to grow.  St. Columba’s has been intentional in providing pastoral support for local families at risk, spending time visiting individuals and families in the congregation and newcomers in their homes. Pastoral care for the sick and acute/long term hospital care, bringing the Eucharist to home and hospital bound, praying, getting to know family members who work in the community—these are credited with being a part of the growth the congregation has experienced.

Successes

  • The church baptized four persons in 2014 and one more will be baptized this month. St. Columba’s officially welcomed seven new members this past year. To assist in incorporation of new members, they have designated several “Welcome Sundays” with a liturgy welcoming new members and marking this important decision.
  • While difficulties remain in connecting to children during the week, St. Columba’s has worked hard to incorporate the children they do have into Sunday worship. Children collect the offering almost every week, carry the cross, and bring the food offering forward (food items collected are given to Annunciation Roman Catholic Church Food Pantry in Waimea). Children ring the bell at the start at worship, and they have recently started using a child lector.

  • A potluck immediately following worship has become a key opportunity for connection. The food provided is reflective of their ethnically diverse population. Lewin says, “It is a joyous, delicious time for fellowship and hospitality feeding the body and the spirit.” The are trying to help people from different backgrounds get to one another. One way they do that is by encouraging people to sit together, mix and recently they asked people to sit with someone they do not know.
  • The best source of evangelism has been by word of mouth, going out into the community and building relationships through “talk story” and an open invitation to come for worship and and stay for the potluck. Parishioners have evangelized in Honaka’a, Christmas caroling with townspeople on First Friday. They distributed leaflets and post cards telling about programs.

Lewin said, “Mission Grant funds and support is giving the church time and space for people in need of relationship with God. This is the beginning and God said ‘It is good!’” She added, “We are continually given a glimpse of what a thriving church can be – with sounds of children, mothers/fathers with newborns, old members and new members getting to know each other, trusting that they are cared for and that this is a safe and a soft place to fall into the loving arms of our Lord Jesus Christ. A place to practice our spiritual muscles and building the foundation for a future.”

St. Joe’s Unplugged


This is the second in a series of reports on initiatives funded through the budget of The Episcopal Church in its grants to Mission Enterprise Zones.

St. Joe’s Unplugged is a mission of St. Joseph’s in Boynton Beach, Florida, whose focus is to attract people in their 20s and 30s, the unchurched, the de-churched, and those looking for a Fresh Expression of worship. The weekly Unplugged service began in the fall of 2005 as an ever growing joyful and soulful Sunday respite for humans being.

Guitars strumming, drums beating, and voices singing melodically, this service is a unique one for the Episcopal Church. For the majority of the service, you are on your feet, singing along to classic hymns, updated with a contemporary flare. The Unplugged service was born at the beach, with a portable sound system, chairs and a big cooler for an alfresco altar. The beach service was successful in that it was welcoming enough to attract strangers to join them. But the vagaries of south Florida weather – and blowing sand — eventually forced the group indoors.

The Rev. Martin Zlatic, Rector of St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church said, “We did focus groups with a professional marketing firm for the intended audience of the ’20-30 somethings’.” He went on to explain, “Universally, when asked, ‘if we were to design a church service that would meet the desired description you have given us, when would you like that service to be offered?’ – they all said early Sunday evening.” Based on this input, the service was founded at 6 pm on Sunday nights. On that day and time only 25-30 people attended in a typical week – very few of whom were in that age group. Zlatic notes, “Since the switch of the time to 11:45 am on Sunday morning, the attendance has continued to grow not only in the target segment, but with our intergenerational folks as well.” St. Joe’s Unplugged now has a sustained average of more than 130 on a typical Sunday.

Now led by St. Joseph’s Associate Priest, the Rev. Wendy Tobias, the liturgy continues to strive to be a haven for those looking to Unplug from stiff traditions, stale music or from churches who don’t welcome a questioning mind. Many come who are not “church” people at all. Others come to Unplug from all the ‘noise’ of life so they can better tune in to who and what they really are – loved, encouraged, and accepted by God.

The Mission Enterprise Zone Grant is providing key support for the continued ability to provide a dedicated associate priest and professional musicians for St. Joe’s Unplugged. Music by Live Hymnal led by Charles Milling continues to be a huge draw for these worship services and former youth band members are now working with youth as well as actively participating in services. Also, since receiving the MEZ grant, St. Joe’s Unplugged has been able to reach deeper into the Recovery Community, both through Tobias leading a small group in a treatment program’s once a month Spiritual Fridays and through Delray Recovery Center residents attending Unplugged. In naming some of what she has learned in leading St. Joe’s Unplugged, Tobias cited:

  • Risking experiential opportunities in the service has been met with increasing receptivity i.e. Word Beyond Words service, active prayer stations during prayers of the people, experiences during sermons e.g. Centering Prayer, Written Prayers of Release, parachute over everyone as an object lesson, vital preaching that challenges fear based theology.
  • We are also learning that it’s best to have real consistency in the details of the service i.e. lighting, sound, movement, timing.
  • Involvement of those in their 20s and 30s in service as candlelighters (especially newcomers when they are willing), greeters, ushers, prayer leaders, chalice bearers. Relaxed liturgical innovation helps them feel comfortable and a part of our worship community.
  • We are still trying to discern what is the best way to have a leaflet or not have one. We tried a tri-fold for a while with QR codes for our welcome video and announcements. Now we’re trying to figure out a different approach to a limited size leaflet. Tune In is a group just forming (20s and 30s) and they really want to have a slicker look, brief but then have some full page handouts for some appealing items like a Taking Faith Home sheet used in our traditional service.
  • I am learning that I need the 20s and 30s advisory group to help me navigate and advise and that I need to LISTEN to them and respond.
  • We are collaborating with our Diocesan Young Adult Ministry coordinator, Daniel Ledo, in planning some exciting networking with other young adult groups in our deanery and beyond.
  • Our Unplugged community really appreciates outreach through Habitat for Humanity, feeding homeless and needy through another local church, and our Mission Trip and efforts to the people of the Dominican Republic.

www.stjoesunplugged.org