African Descent Ministries

Executive Council awards Episcopal Church Constable Fund Grants

July 20, 2016
African Descent Ministries

The Episcopal Church Executive Council announced the recipients of the Constable Fund Grants, totaling $535,000, for the 2013 grant cycle. 

The announcement was made by Anne Watkins, an Executive Council member from the Diocese of Connecticut and chair of the Constable Fund Grant Review Committee, during the Executive Council meeting, currently gathered in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Constable Fund provides grants to fund mission initiatives that were not provided for within the budget of the Episcopal Church General Convention/Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS).

Watkins said seven grants were awarded from the 22 applications received, the most ever submitted for consideration.  “We received applications from Provinces, Commissions/Committees/Agencies/Boards (CCABs), and DFMS offices/affiliates/seminaries or others,” Watkins explained. “They were quite worthy of consideration, and we had very difficult decisions to make.”

Watkins explained that the 22 applications requested a total of roughly $1,621,452 in grant requests.

A Constable Grant Management Task Force was constituted by the Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Mission (EC-GAM) which made subsequent recommendations resulting in the establishment of the Executive Council Constable Fund Grant Review Committee.  That committee was charged with promoting the fund, widening its access to more of the Church, and making award recommendations. Committee members are:  The Rev. Canon James G. Callaway, D.D., General Secretary, Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion; Marian Conboy of the General Convention Office; Margareth Crosnier de Bellaistre, DFMS Director of Investment Management and Banking; Executive Council member Dr. Anita George; Executive Council member the Rev. Marion Luckey; Sam McDonald, DFMS Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission; Executive Council Member the Rev. Sylvestre Romero, Jr.; and Watkins.

“This cycle of recommendations confirmed something we already know:  that we are a church of great creativity, with an abundance of ideas and gifts for God’s mission and for doing the work of the Church,” Watkins continued. “That meant that the Constable Fund Grant Review Committee had an even more challenging job than before.  The decisions made were not so much between good and poor applications.  It was rather, decisions between good and good.  While each application stood on its own merit, we did also try to remain aware of the distribution of awards.  And in many cases, decisions had to be made simply because of the amount of funding available. We could only fund about one-third of the grant amounts requested and there are certainly some good proposals that could not be met through this particular fund.”


The recipients, the projects, the amounts and brief explanations (taken from the applications) follow:

  • Province II (for The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti) to establish a network of three radio stations in the northern region of the Diocese of Haiti; $130,000

The Diocese of Haiti has created an Episcopal region in the north part of the country and The Rt. Reverend Ogé Beauvoir, Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Haiti, is overseeing the expansion of the diocese in that region under the leadership of the Diocesan Bishop. While strengthening the six existing parishes made up of 18 congregations, there is an urgent need to start doing some religious education by using mass media.  The plan is to open 15 new congregations. This proposal is to help the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti establish a network of three radio stations in the north to better proclaim the Good News to the population of the great north, teach the Christian faith and further nurture the believers.

  • Province III (for The Diocese of Pittsburgh) for Reconciling Conversations of Sexuality and Communion; $30,000

The diocese has brought in a team from the Public Conversations Project (PCP) to help design and facilitate diocesan-wide conversations, not only on the critical matters of human sexuality, but on related questions of communion and fellowship in the midst of our differences. Through this process we hope to produce a cadre of PCP-trained facilitators sufficient to engage up to500 people, representative of the diocese as a whole, in a process of conversation to help heal division, build consensus and inform the bishop’s decision-making in relation to these critical questions. We hope this cadre will help facilitate future dialogue to help create a common mind around a range of matters, from mission strategy to resource allocation. 

  • Standing Commission for Small Congregations for Conference on Lay and Clergy Leadership in Small Ethnic Congregations; $43,000

The Standing Commission for Small Congregations proposes to hold one or more conferences on providing education and training for lay and clergy leadership and development in small congregations. Participants will be invited to meet with the Commission members and each other to study and discuss ways to provide cost-effective education and training for persons working or intending to work in small congregations. The conferences will include study of non-traditional educational means and formats such as on-line study and training courses utilizing the internet, cooperative programs among dioceses, and study of education and training of persons whose primary language is not English.

  • Forward Movement for a Catalyst for Transformational Spiritual Growth: Adult and All-ages Christian Formation Materials; $94,000

This project will publish Christian formation materials that have been piloted successfully in several congregations, as well as create new materials, including a Basics Course in the Anglican expression of the Christian faith. The Good Book Club is a four-year congregation-wide program for all ages that includes the narrative of the Bible, the Gospels, Christian history and saints, and spiritual practices.  All materials will be provided for free download online, and printed materials will be available for a modest cost.  Materials will be published in English and Spanish.

  • Office of Black Ministries for New Visions Initiative for Transforming Congregations of African Descent; $142,000

New Visions Initiative for Transforming Congregations of African Descent is a multi-tiered collaborative initiative, grounded in Faith Formation and full participation of children, youth, young adults, middle and older adults in transforming the congregation. New Visions congregations form mutual partnerships for ministry, and participate in activities to Renew spiritual vitality, Reimagine mission and Revitalize energy and participation in order to focus outwardly toward the mission field. Program will enable congregations to develop their ministries, strengthen the ties in their communities, provide reports on their progress and share experiences, as well as participate in meetings, training sessions and ministry evaluations.

  • Asiamerica Ministries Office, Partnership Office for Asia and the Pacific and Episcopal Divinity School for EAMS-EDS Theological Project; $66,000

This project addresses the need of Episcopal Asiamerican clergy and lay leaders to obtain advance pastoral studies and continuing theological education that will enable, empower and equip them for effective ministry in the 21st century. The program uses brief residential training, on-line technology and distributive learning. The goal is to develop “working theologians” so the training does not take clergy out of their ministerial context, except for the intensive study in January and June terms.  At the end of their study-reflection, the successful candidates will obtain a Doctor of Ministry diploma from EDS and their dissertation papers will be accessible for use in the Episcopal Church.

  • Office of Government Relations, Bishops Working for a Just World for Advocacy Collaboration for Bishops and Young People; $30,000

The purpose is to fund a joint advocacy-focused gathering of Episcopal bishops and young persons, to be held in Washington, DC, with the aim of creating a “ready bench” of young social justice advocates in the Episcopal Church. These young people will return to their dioceses and provide sustained “grass tops” leadership toward all Episcopalians living into their baptismal covenant to “strive for justice and peace and promote the dignity of every human being.  The proposal is for funding that will allow the Office of Government Relations to provide scholarships for young people to be invited to partner with the bishops at this conference, thereby widening the diversity of young adults who can participate.

Named for Miss Constable

The Constable Grants were named for Miss Marie Louise Constable, who was a visionary philanthropist.  Watkins pointed out, “Hers is an example of faithful witness and generosity in response to an obviously mature and deep understanding of herself as both a disciple of Jesus Christ and as a steward of the blessings bestowed upon her by God.”

In 1935, in the midst of economic catastrophe known as the Great Depression, Miss Constable made a monetary gift to the Episcopal Church to establish the Constable Fund.  Her desire and intent to add periodically to the fund during her lifetime was realized and culminated with a very generous final gift at the time of her death in 1951.

Watkins further explained, “Stipulations for use of the fund were also visionary and generous, recognizing in and trusting those who came after her to comply with her wishes while allowing them flexibility in order to carry the mission of God through God’s Church forward into new eras.”

The language of Miss Constable’s will states that the fund exists “in perpetuity … to apply the net income for the purposes of the Society, preferably for the work in religious education not provided for within the Society’s budget.”



The Episcopal Church:





The Rev. Canon Ronald C. Byrd Sr.

Missioner for African Descent Ministries

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