Episcopal Development Agency of Thomasville

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

The Episcopal Development Agency of Thomasville is a new initiative in the Diocese of Georgia combining three Episcopal Churches in common mission. The community development work is all the more important as the three congregations came about through painful divisions. Good Shepherd was founded in 1894 after African Americans no longer felt welcome to worship at St. Thomas. Then in 1981, Episcopalians concerned about the ordination of women and prayer book revisions founded All Saints, which is a 1928 Prayer Book Parish. These divisions within the church occured in a town that experienced its own racial and socio-economic divisions.

In recent years, members of All Saints, Good Shepherd, and St. Thomas Churches had increasingly come together and in 2013 they combined their efforts through founding EDAT to address the needs of the impoverished and primarily African-American neighborhood which surrounds Good Shepherd. Members of the parishes and the community 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 inner-city community.

The Oak Street Community Garden became one of EDAT’s first initiatives. This garden gained funding through a United Thank Offering Grant which helped in hiring a Garden Supervisor. In 2014, the Garden fed more than 40 families while educating the community on gardening practices.

EDAT’s other initiative currently underway is the Enrichment Program developed in collaboration with the Thomasville Community Resource Center (TCRC). This Enrichment Program began with a summer camp and continues with an after school program also held on the Good Shepherd grounds. The program, which currently has 40 children, is open to those ages 6 through 12 four days a week. The curriculum, which includes academic enrichment in math, science, and reading, volunteer work in EDAT’s community garden, and exposure to the arts, serves children from a variety of Thomasville neighborhoods and socioeconomic backgrounds.

In 2014, a Mission Enterprise Zone Grant assisted EDAT in hiring Keith Jenkins as its first Executve Director. Jenkins is a Thomasville native with a degree in social work who has family living in the community near Good Shepherd. Since coming on board, he completed a door to door needs assessment, interviewing the community about how EDAT can assist them in developing their neighborhood.

The grants from UTO and the Mission Enterprise Zone have been more than matched by sustained local giving to the development agency. The EDAT Board, comprised of equal representation from the three founding congregations, is working from the needs assessment to continue its work in partnering with community members on development work. Future plans include job training. A video report on the work of EDAT uses interviews with many of the partners to tell the story of this community development agency.

Mission Enterprise Zones

Acts 8 will be reporting in the coming months on the innovative work funded through The Episcopal Church’s Mission Enterprise Fund. The General Convention 2012’s Resolution A073 established “the Mission Enterprise Fund, to be administered by a grants committee for that purpose established by the Executive Council, with $1 million for the 2013–2015 triennium.” The resolution also states that “Diocesan Standing Committees and Bishops partner to create ‘Mission Enterprise Zones,’ defined as a geographic area, as a group of congregations or as an entire diocese committed to mission and evangelism that engages under-represented groups, including youth and young adults, people of color, poor and working-class people, people with a high-school diploma or less, and/or people with little or no church background or involvement.”

To date, The Episcopal Church has given 41 grants for Mission Enterprise Zones and Church Plants. The $20,000 grants are for Mission Enterprise Zones and $100,000 for church planting:

  • Allston Project, Diocese of Massachusetts, $100,000
  • Be the Change: Alabama, Diocese of Alabama, $20,000
  • “Bi-lingual rebirth”, San Pedro y San Pablo, Diocese of Oregon, $60,000
  • Calling the Circle, Diocese of Arizona, $20,000
  • Canton/Fells Point Mission, Diocese of Maryland and Delaware-Maryland Synod of the ELCA, $100,000
  • Divine Power Yoga, Diocese of Chicago /Metro Chicago Synod, $100,000
  • Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Hurricane Shelter, Sewing Clinic, Diocese of Honduras, $20,000
  • Episcopal Development Agency of Thomasville, Diocese of Georgia, $20,000
  • GEORGE: Center for Community – An Artist’s Space, Diocese of Olympia, $20,000
  • Grace Church – Episcopal, Diocese of Oklahoma, $100,000
  • Hmong Ministry Planting Initiative, Diocese of Minnesota, $100,000
  • Holy Apostles Episcopal Sudanese Church, Diocese of South Dakota, $20,000
  • Iglesia Episcopal San Pablo Apóstol, Diocese of El Camino Real, $100,000
  • Iglesia Santa Maria, Diocese of Arizona, $100,000
  • Indigenous Ministry Development through the Bishop’s Native Collaborative, Dioceses of Alaska/Montana/Navajoland/North Dakota/South Dakota, $60,000
  • Kairos West Community Center, Diocese of Western North Carolina, $20,000
  • Korean Ministry of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Diocese of El Camino Real, $20,000
  • La Iglesia Detroit, Diocese of Michigan, $100,000
  • Latino Ministry Leadership Development, Diocese of Southwest Florida, $20,000
  • Lawrence House Service Corps, Western Massachusetts, $20,000
  • Living our Baptismal Covenant Together, Diocese of Idaho , $20,000
  • Mission Christ the Liberator (Cristo Libertador), Diocese of Dominican Republic, $100,000
  • Organizing Latinos for Mission, Diocese of San Diego, $20,000
  • Our Lady Of Guadalupe Episcopal Church, Diocese of Olympia, $100,000
  • PINE (Pacific Inland Northwest Exchange), Diocese of Spokane, $20,000
  • Reviving Cultural and Ministry Needs of the Penn Hills Area, Diocese of Pittsburgh, $20,000
  • Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center, Diocese of Maine, $20,000
  • St. Columba Church Replant, Diocese of Hawaii, $20,000
  • St. Gabriel’s, Diocese of Virginia, $100,000
  • St. Joe’s Unplugged, Diocese of Southeast Florida, $20,000
  • St. Mary in Palms Spanish speaking ministry, Diocese of Los Angeles, $100,000
  • St. Matthew’s Mission Enterprise, Diocese of Northern California, $20,000
  • The Abbey, Diocese of Alabama, $100,000
  • The Abundant Table Farm Church, Diocese of Los Angeles, $100,000
  • The Matthew 25 Project, Diocese of Los Angeles, $20,000
  • Trinity Episcopal Bread and Roses Ministry, Diocese of Virginia, $20,000
  • Urban Core Mission Enterprise Zone, Diocese of Southern Ohio, $20,000
  • Warriors of the Dream – Transforming Violence, Building Leaders, Diocese of New York, $20,000
  • Westside Ministry Partnership, Diocese of Northern Indiana, $20,000
  • Worcester Urban Mission Strategy, Diocese of Western Massachusetts, $100,000
  • Young Adult Ministry Development Team, Diocese of Iowa, $20,000

The Rev. Thomas Brackett, Episcopal Church Missioner for New Church Starts and Missional Initiatives, is quick to note that the relationship begins rather than ends with the awarding of the funds.  He hosts monthly web calls for mutual support, accountability, partnership, and ongoing learning together. He told the Episcopal News Services, “These round-table videoconferences are bringing together a wise community of practice.  This gathering of practitioners has so much to share with the church at large, as they learn to share their gifts in these emerging ministries.”

Next steps also include the work of the Standing Commission on Mission And Evangelism, which will collect the experiences of those receiving the funding and will share best practices and accomplishments. For more information contact Brackett at tbrackett@episcopalchurch.org

Possibilities of New Life

The Rev. James B. Cook at St. Marks in Palm Beach Garden poses a very pertinent question in the following video:

How do we live a resurrected life in the reality of this life?

‘Listen. Think. Pray.’ is a comprehensive video discussion series commenting on specific words and how they relate to the here and now. In this video on resurrection, Rev. Cook reminds us of the tragic ferry disaster in South Korea in April of this year. As the captain and crew jumped ship, the ferry sunk and more than 300 children aboard were killed or went missing.

We continue to live in this reality of life, where death is real and where we can’t always resuscitate our bodies. But god promises us resurrection, he promises us new bodies, new lives, new realities.

Think about what just happened in Ferguson. Is that our reality? What can we do to bring new life in the midst of death?

Resurrection People: Southside Abbey

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Church is being resurrected in new and innovative ways every day. Followers of Jesus are coming out of the woodwork and sharing their gifts in new and exciting ministries. One place in particular, Southside Abbey, is a place where resurrection is happening. They are a resurrection people, making all things new in a historic neighborhood in Chattanooga, TN. This is a neighborhood facing the fast-growing trend of gentrification and the many issues that it brings. Southside Abbey brings together a multitude of believers in an ancient and simple way: a meal. They meet on Friday nights to share a meal with one another in an art gallery that sells the works of the homeless.  There, Communion happens throughout the course of dinner and discussion. At Southside Abbey, the congregation is one of  proud diversity, a community where the wealthy, homeless, and disenfranchised can come together and be one. They celebrate the Kingdom of God in a beautiful way and each Friday, they work to bring that Kingdom a little closer to reality. The Rev. Bob Leopold articulates the shared dream of the community saying:

 “I want people to know that they can do this too. They can do that dream,” he said. “I mean, if we’re resurrection people, what are we afraid of?”

Attached is a wonderful article about the resurrection people of Southside Abbey and also, a video that provides a wonderful description of the resurrection that happens at Southside Abbey.

Article: Putting Away the Silver

Video: 

Can we live without letting go?

We all have parts of our lives that need to die in order to  make room for new and meaningful growth. Mother Beth Tjoflat paints a wonderful picture of a time in which she experienced this.  She had to let go of fear and embrace her vulnerability.

When I spoke my truth calmly, my weariness began to dissipate. Strength rose up in its place.

New life.

Currently, Mother Beth Tjoflat is brining new life to a community  in Jacksonville, FL known as Church Without Walls.  This transformative ministry in the Diocese of Florida meets for morning prayer on Wednesdays and Worship outside on Sundays.

Our mission:
To encounter and share Jesus by building community “with the least” among us.

Church Without Walls

Alive & Well

The Episcopal Church Center in San Diego has partnered up with Photocharity to minister to the homeless youth of San Diego. This type of outreach is about second chances. Marquise Foster, the first inductee into the extensive program explains,

“I was supposed to have been dead a long time ago,” Foster said Friday. “Now, I have an opportunity to be alive, instead of just survive.”

Learn more about Houses of Hope here: Program will house, train homeless youth

Less extensive programs are offered at the Episcopal Church Center on Sundays at 4 p.m. where youth can find shelter and learn skills to help them become self-sufficient.

Learn more about the Episcopal Church Center here: Episcopal Church Center

Superbowl-style Commercials, by Frank Logue

For our recent 192nd Convention of the Diocese of Georgia, I created some videos to show some things underway in the Diocese like in our Peer Coaching Initiative video. I also created some that were just fun. We showed them right before heading out for a break and then when we started again, we would start with a short video catching Episcopalians doing good so to speak like in the story of the Heaping Hands Ministry. But here are two of the just for fun videos:

Resolution to the Task Force, by Frank Logue

Four priests in the Diocese of Georgia have proposed a resolution to that diocese’s upcoming convention which is intended to make a recommendation to The Episcopal Church’s restructuring task force. The resolution states:

Resolved, that this 192nd Convention of The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia request that the Special Task Force on Church Structural Reform, created by the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church to present a plan to the next General Convention in 2015 for “reforming the Church’s structures, governance and administration”, include as one of its recommendations a proposal the the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church adopt the tithe as the standard of giving and as the funding forula for diocesan support of the budget of the Episcopal Church and,

be it further Resolved, that this resolution together with its accompanying Explanation, be forwarded to The Executive Council for it information.

The explanation is contained in a PDF file online here: The Tithe as the Standard of Funding PDF. There is no mechanism in place for input into the task force and so these clergy are attempting to create one. How this means of recommending actions to the group remains to be seen. First, the resolution would need to be approved by the convention, which meets February 7-9. What do you think of this approach?

Pray for the Restructuring Task Force, by Frank Logue

Episcopal News Service shares the news that, “Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have announced the 24 members of the special Task Force for Church Structural Reform.” The full text of the annoncement is online here: Special task force members named for church structural reform

The article gives us now a list of persons for whom we should be in prayer as the task of making key decisions for the future of The Episcopal Church falls first to this group:

• The Rev. Jennifer L. Adams, Diocese of Western Michigan
• The Rev. William H. Allport, II, Diocese of West Texas
• The Rev. Joseph M.C. Chambers, Diocese of Missouri
• Canon Judith G. Conley, Diocese of Arizona
• Bishop Michael Bruce Curry, Diocese of North Carolina
• Bishop C. Andrew Doyle, Diocese of Texas
• The Rev. Miguelina Espinal-Howell, Diocese of Newark
• Professor Victor A. Feliberty-Ruberte, Diocese of Puerto Rico
• The Venerable Robert Anton Franken, Diocese of Missouri
• Dr. Catherine George, Diocese of New Jersey
• Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Diocese of El Camino Real
• Ian L. Hallas, Diocese of Chicago
• Julia Ayala Harris, Diocese of Florida
• The Rev. Dr. Bradley S. Hauff, Diocese of Pennsylvania
• The Rev. Leng Leroy Lim, Diocese of Los Angeles
• Thomas A. Little, Esq. Diocese of Vermont
• The Rev. Canon Craig W. Loya, Diocese of Kansas
• Sarah Miller, Diocese of Alabama
• The Rev. Kevin D. Nichols, Diocese of New Hampshire
• Bishop Sean W. Rowe, Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania
• Margaret B. Shannon, Diocese of Texas
• T. Dennis Sullivan, Diocese of New York
• Jonathan McKenzie York, Diocese of North Carolina
• The Rev. Dr. Dwight J. Zscheile, Diocese of Minnesota

Two partners from other Anglican Communion provinces have also been appointed:

• The Very Rev. Peter Elliott of the Anglican Church of Canada, dean of the Diocese of New Westminster and rector of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver.
• The Rev. Sathianathan Clarke, Th.D., of the Church of South India, who is the Bishop Sundo Kim Chair in World Christianity and professor of theology, culture and mission at Wesley Theological Seminary.

Ceramic Church, by Amy Real Coultas

Y’all know it’s been Christmas out in the stores for a while.  A few weeks ago I came across these two churches which are being sold alongside various little village buildings.  On first glance, they’re not too different.  Quaint little ceramic church buildings all lit up, ready to be placed on mantles or fake-snow-covered sideboards across America.

But look more closely–these two churches express two very different identities.  One is white, glittery, and pristine.  Three robed choristers stand in front of the church doors serenading passers by with carols.  The bell swings in the steeple.  All is washed in sparkly white and silver.  The building feels closed up, all the light coming from external bulbs.  A classic (if oddly glittery!) life-size nativity scene is set up on the corner of the lot.

In the other, the colors are just a bit too vivid, the warm light spills out through the windows.  There are two signs to the right of the door: “Canned Goods” and “Christmas Donations & Toy Drive.”  The sidewalk is blocked by donated food, blankets, stuffed animals, even wrapped gifts.

Isn’t it interesting that somewhere a marketing team has decided these are the two most expected images of the church?

Which church is most appealing?  Which says most about what Christmas–God becoming like human beings–means?  Which church looks most like your church?