Category Archives: Mission Enterprise Zone

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