The video above shows love in action with a ministry which any church of any size could take on if it is near a population of homeless persons. Watch as an Episcopal Church named Thad’s offers Laundry Love. As the Rev. Jimmy Bartz tells it, this is modern day footwashing. Community develops around washers and dryers as a practical need is met. Thad’s didn’t create the idea, but when they heard of Laundry Love in Huntington Beach, they knew it would fit their Venice Beach community and their church.
Feeding the body and soul, A Moveable Feast is a new and innovative mobile food truck ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. This is no ordinary food truck, it is part chapel as well. More specifically a “mobile sanctuary” currently catering to the young adults and college students in Durham, NC.
Young adults are invited to serve as Companions and are called to bring the companionship of Jesus Christ alongside many people as they travel the roads of their everyday lives just as Jesus’ encounter with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
“It will welcome people without exception and challenge them to look beyond themselves, to know that they are made in the image of God and infinitely precious, to know that they are part of a bigger picture, and to be at peace with themselves and others.
Companions have the opportunity to serve food, staff events, live intentionally, and participate in spiritual formation.
The truck and its’ Companions will travel to different Chapters.
“Movable Feast chapters are bodies of hungry searching people who wish to embark on a journey together to find the food that we all need.”
Chapters are made up of people of all ages from local parishes, friends, and neighbors. They engage in the ministry with practical tasks like providing food, hospitality, office space, and liturgical and business expertise. The locations of these Chapters will be finalized in the upcoming months.
Caitlyn Darnell, a coordinator for a Movable Feast explains,
“It isn’t about how many souls we can suck into church, nor is it about bucking the whole church-sanctuary model. It’s about creating room for our Triune God to be apparent among us. It’s about the community that will appear just when the truck is there, and about the community that will linger together.”
Click here to learn more about A Movable Feast.
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.
This is the second of a series of follow up reports by Acts 8 on the recipients of Church Planting grants funded through The Episcopal Church budget. The $100,000 grants are matched by local money to make new church starts possible to communities that would not otherwise have the resources to start a new congregation.
In an effort to reach out the underserved, the Abundant Table in Santa Paula, California is open for those that seek a sustainable way of life rooted in deep faith.
This 4-acre farm offers a variety of ways to support through different programs. Young adults have the opportunity to join the farm as part of an Episcopal Service Corps internship. This internship entails communal living, work on the farm, learning about food injustice and a variety of essential skills for self-sufficiency. If you are interested in applying for the ESC program next year, the first deadline is Dec.15. Click here to submit an application.
Farm to School is another initiative the people at the Abundant Table are participating in. With collaboration from local school districts, the Abundant Table is working hard to provide more locally grown and healthy food in school cafeterias. Their commitment to education is not limited to the classroom, the Abundant Table also invites students and others to the farm for hands-on learning experiences. This may take the form of a field trip or weekend or weeklong immersion projects.
While this project started off as a campus ministry for Episcopal and Lutheran students at California State University, they now strive to be radically inclusive and welcoming to all people. Sunday evenings, everyone is invited to participate in communion and make connections with the community and God’s green Earth. The Abundant Table is also part of Community Supported Agriculture in which people sign up to receive boxes of fresh produce weekly.
Visit their website for an in-depth look of the farm via blogs with delicious recipes. Click the video below to see the many happy faces that are helping grow God’s kingdom here and now.
This is the first of a series of follow up reports by Acts 8 on the recipients of Church Planting grants funded through The Episcopal Church budget. The $100,000 grants are matched by local money to make new church starts possible to communities that would not otherwise have the resources to start a new congregation.
Toua Vang recalls how he and his family felt like lost sheep, without a church home, without a place for their loved ones to be baptized and buried, without a place for them to gather as God’s people to be nourished by God’s Word and Christ’s body and blood, and to be strengthened for God’s work in the world. In 2005, Vang’s family and 74 other Hmong families (175 people total) joined Church of the Holy Apostles in St. Paul, Minnesota, making it the first Hmong-majority Episcopal congregation in the U.S. and in the entire Anglican Communion.
With the support of a UTO grant, they set about translating the Book of Common Prayer into Hmong. Pronounced “Mung”, Hmnong is the native language of the ethnic minority, originally from southern China, who were hilltop farmers in Laos, fighting as allies with the U.S. during the Vietnam War era. After the Communists take over of Laos in 1975, thousands of Hmong fled to Thailand. Eventually, many came to the U.S. as refugees. Today, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, Wisconsin, and California are home to 80% of the Hmong living in the U.S.
Since the group joined The Episcopal Church, Holy Apostles has enrolled 16 members in a Shared Ministry Team formation process. In 2013, the Rev. Toua Vang completed his Master of Divinity at Virginia Theological Seminary, and was ordained in Minnesota by Bishop Brian Prior. Fluent in English, Hmong, Thai, and Lao, he is the first Hmong Episcopal priest.
Bishop Brian Prior said of Vang’s ordination, “Toua was identified and affirmed by the community because of his particular gifts and his strong desire to serve both his people and the larger world. Toua has a particular missional zeal that really is very compelling — that you hear from hardly anyone else. He really feels this sense of calling.”
Prior added, “It’s part of the story of his people because they’ve been people in movement. He feels the call to be with other people who have been dislocated and have had to take a similar journey. I think he feels called to serve people who find themselves dislocated and have to move to a new world. He’s really passionate about that.”
The Church Planting Grant made it possible for Vang to work full time in this appointment using Holy Apostles in St. Paul’s Minnesota as a base. A quarter of his time is spent serving in an Associate Vicar position doing evangelism, preaching and teaching in the Twin Cities, so that the mission is well grounded and supported by the Hmong Episcopal community. In the first year, Vang is also spending a quarter of his time focused on acquiring skills and knowledge for the work of evangelism and ministry planting, and the remainder of his time is devoted to the Hmong Ministry Planting Initiative.
The Rev. Dr. Winfred Vergara, Missioner of Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries (EAM), is a partner in the Church Planting Grant received in 2014. The goal of the grant is to work with diocesan bishops to identify well-suited and well-situated Episcopal parishes within these targeted communities that would be willing to open their doors and hearts to Hmong neighbors in their communities. Core Teams will develop at the local community and parish level, with both Hmong and Episcopal leaders receiving training and ongoing support, as needed, by Vang, who is working as the Southeast Asian/Hmong Missioner. The long term goal is to raise up lay and ordained Hmong leaders to be ministers in their own communities, integrated into local Episcopal congregations.
Since recieving the grant, Vang has done “Hmong/Southeast Asia Ministry Probes” in the Diocese of Olympia, connecting particularly with the Cambodian & Laotian ministries in Tacoma, Washington and the Diocese of Colorado. He also participated in the revival event at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Stockton and visited many Hmong families in the Diocese of San Joaquin and the Diocese of Northern California, particularly in Sacramento.
Vergara preached in a Pentecost sermon with many Hmong baptisms, “Mission no longer means Anglo-Europeans crossing the Pacific Ocean to convert the Asian (Buddhist, Hindu, animists, ancestral worshipers, ‘free thinkers’, etc.) into the Christian faith.” He went on to add, “[Mission is] simply opening the doors of our American hearts and flinging open the doors of our churches to the neighbors whom God has brought to us. As you can see, in this church, the Chinese are among us, the Japanese are among us, the Koreans are among us, the South Asians and Southeast Asians are among us, the Filipinos are among us—and pardon the pun—the Hmong are among us.”
A 2005 article on the confirmation of 175 Hmong is found online here: http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/3577_69298_ENG_HTM.htm
An article on Toua Vang’s ordination is online here: Toua Vang is first Hmong priest in Anglican Communion
Women of Holy Apostles Episcopal Church singing The Lord’s Prayer (Peb Txiv Nyob Saum Ntuj) in Hmong.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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?
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
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.
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.
To encounter and share Jesus by building community “with the least” among us.