Category Archives: Stories

#GC78 Resurrection Report: June 27, 2015

Our apologies--the Resurrection Report is a little late due to technical difficulties. Insert your own “at least you didn’t have to wait three days” joke here.


Well! Did anyone hear anything cool going on yesterday at General Convention? Maybe on CNN or over the Associated Press wire? By now, of course you know that Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina has been elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. This is the first time I heard Bishop Curry speak--at the 2012 General Convention in Indianapolis. I won’t soon forget it.

Bishop Curry General Convention Sermon


Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale brings us this report:

Lurking on the consent calendar for the House of Deputies tomorrow is resolution B004: Commend Report on Relations with Church of Sweden. Until I saw it, I was only dimly aware of the Church of Sweden and not at all aware that dialogue was happening between The Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden.

This afternoon I met with The Reverend Dr Christopher Meakin, head of ecumenical relations for the Church of Sweden to find out what is going on. The dialogue began several years ago at the request of Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, to see if there were ways for the Episcopal and Swedish churches scattered throughout Europe to cooperate.

Dr. Meakin noted that the Swedish and Episcopal churches have never not really been in communion. Though the Church of Sweden is Lutheran, Dr. Meakin said that Sweden’s revolution was “comparatively mild”, and that the Church of Sweden never lost sight of apostolic succession, and that our liturgies and understanding of the Eucharist are compatible. Many Church of Sweden congregations established in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries became Episcopal churches as the cultural ties to Sweden waned.

What the present dialogue is doing is uncovering a communion we weren’t really that aware we had, other than incidentally. For instance, the Rt. Rev. Barbara Brown Harris, the first female bishop on The Episcopal Church, participated in the ordination of the first female bishop in the Church of Sweden in 1997. But otherwise the fact that our churches have a great deal in common has been under the radar. Cooperation among our churches does not require the technical accommodations and clarifications of Call to Common Mission (which allowed full communion between the ELCA and The Episcopal Church).

Dr. Meakin observed that he found the election of our next Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, “particularly American,” in a positive way. He said that if Swedes had been making the selection, the choice might have been different due to a more reserved Nordic culture, but thought that Curry appears to be the right man for our church at this time.

Given that I live nowhere near Stockholm, the chances of me worshiping in a Church of Sweden congregation any time soon. But it does my heart good to know that the bonds of the faith I treasure stretch to still another land.

Read the full report on dialogue with the Church of Sweden.

Overheard: “It delighted me that I was told I could keep wearing my Acts 8 button while serving the Eucharist at GC, since Acts 8 is considered a non-political organization.”


The #GC78 hashtag was blowing up on Twitter yesterday with support for resolution B009. What a witness to digital evangelism on the ground!


Finally, even though this report is late, you still have time to plan to attend The Collect Call’s live show tonight.

#GC78 Resurrection Report: June 26, 2015

Day 2 of the legislative sessions began with a bang, as the news from the Supreme Court about marriage equality started filtering into Salt Lake City in the early morning hours. I received many reports of spontaneous applause, song, and even tears throughout the Salt Palace as legislative sessions turned into spontaneous celebrations. Deputy Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale took this video of the pre-Eucharist exuberance.

Celebration Of SCOTUS Marriage Ruling

The Rev. Scott Gunn captured this photo in Salt Lake City.
The Rev. Scott Gunn captured this photo in Salt Lake City.


The other item that received multiple nominations for resurrection is the Theodicy Jazz Collective, the musicians featured in the above YouTube video and in our daily worship today. The TJC is “committed to making justice real through the creative, spiritual work of making music in community.” You can find their music on iTunes or at


Your random fact about Salt Lake City: If you leave the Hilton heading for the Hotel Monaco, and you get lost in a deserted alley, you might encounter this street art and deem the experience worth it.

Photo credit Holli Rickman Powell.
Photo credit Holli Rickman Powell.


Anyone interested in a prayer walk through the halls of General Convention should meet in the back of the House of Deputies hall at 1:00 pm local time on Saturday, June 27.


As part of the Acts 8 Moment prayer gathering on June 25, the group invited attendees to share their resurrection stories on video. Here is Andrea McKellar of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, sharing hers.

Resurrection Stories - Andrea McKellar

And finally, a group of musicians from Texas began playing music outside the exhibit hall this afternoon. It was a wonderful backdrop to an already wonderful day. Enjoy.

Singing for the Spirit

Before closing, tomorrow is the big day--the election of the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Please take a quiet moment and join me in prayer:

Collect for the Election of a Presiding Bishop
Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose and confirm a Presiding Bishop for this church, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


#GC78 Resurrection Report: June 25, 2015

First full day of legislative sessions, but who needs legislation when you’ve got resurrection? Let’s get to it.


“A sign of resurrection in a Salt Lake City pedestrian crossing.” Shared on our Facebook page by Beth Marquart.

Overheard: “At the PB&F hearing, a student from Voorhees College (a historically black college affiliated with the Episcopal Church) stood up and spoke about how his life had been changed because of Voorhees. It was one of the most moving pieces of testimony I’ve ever heard.”


There is literally nothing that could have delighted me more than seeing a nun in habit working the virtual binder tech desk.
There is literally nothing that could have delighted me more than seeing a nun in habit working the virtual binder tech desk.

Submitted from Grace Burton-Edwards: “The Acts 8 Moment has challenged us to look for signs of Resurrection at General Convention. I saw one today – over lunch in the Exhibit Hall.” Read more here.


Resurrection on Twitter:


And the Rev. Megan Castellan tweeted us to report that one of her young adults leapt up to help direct Eucharist traffic in today’s worship service.





Your random daily fact about Salt Lake City: Just down the road, in Park City, Utah, is the world’s only distillery that has a ski-in/ski-out bar. (No word on whether there are other ski-in/ski-out bars that don’t make their own products.)


The House of Deputies sent the Official Youth Presence and all deputies born in the 1990s to deliver the ceremonial report to the House of Bishops today. (Photo by Sierra Wilkinson Reyes)



And finally, a statue depicting Jesus as a homeless person sleeping on a park bench made its appearance in the Exhibit Hall today. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society hosted its exhibition, as well as giving away 300 small replicas of the statue. To learn more about the statue’s history, read this NPR article.


That’s it for this resurrection report. Where have you seen signs of new life at General Convention? Send us an email at




#GC78 Resurrection Report: June 25, 2015

Greetings from Salt Lake City! Today was the first official day of General Convention’s legislative activity, but your Roving Resurrection Reporters bravely took a break from practicing tapping the home button on their iPads to bring you all the news that’s fit to post on a blog.


Opening this morning’s orientation session, The Rev. Lester MacKenzie, chaplain of the House of Deputies, prayed that the deputies successfully manage to deal with their gadgets during this year’s mostly paperless convention. The house stifled laughter while attempting to retain some semblance of reverence.

Describing the origin of that prayer, MacKenzie said, “I got onto the platform…and I was aware of the context of what we were moving toward…new technology, newness. How do you bring that all together in prayer creatively, honestly, truthfully, so that we can affirm patience. Because anxiety is already high. And how do you lessen anxiety? Through laughter.”

Reflecting more broadly on his ministry at the convention, MacKenzie said, “As chaplain I’m hoping that over these next days of our work together, that I’m able to help us remember that we are here for Jesus, here for mission. We are here to do the business of the church, but with getting lost in what my grandfather used to call ‘churchianity’.”

Hear The Collect Call podcast’s complete interview with MacKenzie, including a discussion of how his upbringing in South Africa influences his views on how the church in America might act on race relations, in an episode to be released on Friday.

Overheard: “I was greatly inspired–and excited–by listening to the discussion in the Evangelism Committee hearing about resolution D019.” (You can read more about resolution D019, Conducting an Online Digital Evangelism Test, here.)

11650783_10152871689901987_578529806_nWinifred Follett of ECW speaks during the Province 8 Synod. Is she the new Gregory Straub?


Grumpy Episcopal Cat has been spotted all over the Salt Palace, but be careful if you spot him in the wild, lest you get led into a fascinating discussion about the merits of communion wafers made from tuna. You can follow Grumpy Episcopal Cat’s adventures on Facebook.



Two of our favorite Episcopal communications groups colliding–The Rev. Jimmy Abbott and the Rev. Christine Faulstich of Episcopal Herald chatting with The Rev. Scott Gunn of Forward Movement. Don’t forget to follow Forward Movement’s #JesusatGC campaign on social media!


Your daily random fact about Salt Lake City: The Great Salt Lake is larger than the state of Delaware.

And I close with my favorite resurrection report of the day:

Speaking at the presentation of the candidates for Presiding Bishop, Dabney Smith was asked, “How does the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth figure into your vision of the future of the church?”

“Oh my God, thank you,” Bishop Smith answered, before delivering an answer that left many wiping their eyes.

You really can’t do any better than watching his response yourself – start the video at 1:20:45.


Send your photos, anecdotes, and questions to the Resurrection Report! Email

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

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 site. You may also subscribe to these reports via RSS:

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.


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.

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