Domestic Poverty

5 Questions with Dana Jean

February 20, 2017
Domestic Poverty

1) How long have you been affiliated with Jubilee Ministries, and in what capacity?

We applied for and were recognized as a Jubilee Ministry in November 2016 under my leadership as the director of outreach.

2) What is/are your role(s) in your diocese? In your parish? In a ministry or ministries?

I lead our parish’s outreach, the Hands & Feet Social Transformation Ministry.  Under the umbrella of our Hands & Feet Ministry, I coordinate the “help the helpers” side, in which we support other organizations that are serving our community and the independent initiatives of our parish such as our BlessMobile Ministry which is a relational ministry centered around breaking bread together with people living in less fortunate areas of our mission field.  The Hands & Feet Ministry serves the marginalized including those suffering from food insecurity, women facing domestic violence, children at risk, incarcerated juveniles, and the homeless.

At the diocese level, I have been asked to assess and consult on a partnership with a local produce ministry affiliated with another church in order to help parishes in our diocese join with that ministry and start serving fresh produce to the marginalized in their communities.  Since October, the produce ministry has been able to expand its reach to four more communities.

To see more of the Diocese of Dallas’ important work, check out their page on the Episcopal Asset Map. While you’re there, search for innovative ministries, connect with leaders across the Church and tell us about the ways the Spirit is at work in your neighborhood through a short survey.

3) What’s one way you’ve been changed by your work alongside the economically disadvantaged?

Everyday I ask myself how it is possible that I have been given such a gift as to serve the marginalized and economically disadvantaged.  My work gives me no choice but to confront my own unconscious judgments and to then explore and navigate them to more fully understand and minister to those in need as well as to those in my own congregation who may be held back by their own judgments as well.  Serving the disadvantaged pushes me deeper into ministry and closer to Christ’s own heart.  It brings me tremendous joy as often as it causes me wrenching heartbreak as I develop relationships with those in need and those serving alongside me.

4) What does advocacy mean to you?

Advocacy is an important part of the social transformation ministry we do at St. Andrew’s. Walking alongside the marginalized and economically disadvantaged is essential, but it is not always “enough” when what we seek is to transform a community.  In that vein, advocacy, to me, means then that we must proactively engage with community leaders in governments, social service agencies, nonprofits and churches to bring to light the needs of the community.  We must say to the community leaders, “Here are the problems people are facing.  How can we join together to address the needs?” and then, saying to the people whose voices too often go unheard, “We see you and we are listening. How can we help?”

Jubilee Ministries commit to providing direct services to the economically disadvantaged while advocating alongside them. Want to learn more? Check out How to Become a Jubilee Ministry!

5) Where in your diocese (or parish, or ministry) have you seen Jesus?

Just thinking of answering the question “where have you seen Jesus” makes my heart leap with joy.  I see Jesus in every act of service, big and small.  I have seen him at a baby shower for a homeless woman and then again when we helped move furniture into a home for that same woman.  I have seen him in the neonatal intensive care unit when I was unexpectedly asked to baptize a baby before he went in for his seventh surgery.  I see him weekly in the juvenile detention center where I mentor and at the homeless shelter where we pack lunches for folks to take to work and school.

Jesus joins us in the assembly line as we pack take-out containers of hot meals to serve to those suffering from food insecurity and he joins us in the local public school where we mentor and feed kids and care for the teachers and staff who serve so passionately.  He walks with us as we enter the home of a battered woman to help her escape the violence she and her children suffer and he walks with us as we move furniture into apartments for refugees just arriving from around the world. Jesus is all around us!  I want to shout from the mountaintop:  Come meet him!

Dana Jean is the leader of the Hands & Feet Social Transformation Ministry at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Dallas.

If you are interested in having your church or ministry designated a Jubilee Ministry, please contact Mr. Christopher Sikkema at 212-716-6055 or Christopher Sikkema. The application to be designated a Jubilee Ministry can be found HERE.