If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering the process behind being designated a Jubilee Ministry in The Episcopal Church. The process, involving an application period, some discernment, and affirmation by the Executive Council, occurs two or three times each year, so it’s important to keep deadlines in mind.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the fantastic work of Jubilee Ministries, some background might be in order. This designation was created by the General Convention at New Orleans in 1982. The mandate of Jubilee Ministries, provided by 1982-A080, is to be 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.” The Act of Convention notes, that this kind of ministry is at the heart of the mission of the church.
As of fall 2016, we are a network of over 600 ministries across The Episcopal Church, ministering with one another, sharing best practices, advocating, and providing direct services and goods to the economically disadvantaged in our diverse contexts. Each year, we have budgeted funds for Jubilee Grants to ministries that have achieved this designation, helping to support and share the work of particularly effective work in poverty relief.
So how can your ministry join this network?
1. First, check to see if you already are part of the network. Our page at the Episcopal Asset Map provides a comprehensive listing of our Jubilee sites. While you’re there, you might consider connecting with local ministries that have already achieved the designation, find new ideas for your own ministries, and tell the world about your community’s faith and work.
2. Next, find out if your church or ministry meets the requirements. As set forth by General Convention and the Executive Council, Jubilee Ministries must meet certain qualifications for designation. These are as follows:
- The mission and ministry must be an Episcopal congregation, Episcopal cluster or an ecumenical cluster with Episcopal presence, and/or an agency with connections to The Episcopal Church.
- The mission and ministry must be involved among and with poor and oppressed people wherever they are located.
- The mission and ministry must be rooted in worship.
- The mission and ministry must include several programs, including at least one human rights advocacy program and one human service program.
- Additionally, ministries must be willing to demonstrate their operation for models, maintain “how-to” files, act as a resource center for other ministries, and be subject to review.
3. So you qualify? Great! Time to contact your diocese’s Jubilee Officer. While not every diocese has an appointed Jubilee Officer, the ones that do can be found here. We try to keep this list updated at all times, but consider calling your diocesan offices directly if you aren’t sure if the listing is accurate. If your diocese does not have a Jubilee Officer listed, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org for help in the process. It’s important, as we’ll note, to keep apprised of deadlines and your Jubilee Officer can be a great help with that.
4. Fill out the Jubilee Ministry Designation Application here. It will take some time, but don’t worry. Once you hit submit on the final page, you’ll be emailed a copy of the application and a signature sheet that must be endorsed by people in the ministry, including your Jubilee Officer (if one is appointed) and your Bishop.
5. Remember a paragraph ago when I mentioned that there’s a deadline to keep in mind? The Executive Council, who meet two or three times each year, review, and ultimately designate Jubilee Ministries, require time for application translation and review. In order to find out the next deadline for applications, please contact the Jubilee Office at email@example.com. Remember, in order to be eligible for Jubilee Grants, a ministry must be affirmed by the Executive Council before the application period starts.
6. Wait until Executive Council meets and deliberates.
7. Receive notification from the Jubilee Office on the results of Executive Council. Should your application be approved, your ministry will receive an embossed certificate, signed by the President of the House of Deputies and the Presiding Bishop.
8. Start connecting! In the days following Executive Council, your ministry will be added to the Asset Map and to our files. You’ll be eligible for Jubilee Grants and will be connected with folks also doing the amazing ministries around the whole Episcopal Church!