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/