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Executive Council awards grants to fund the start of 20 new ministries

March 13, 2017
Office of Public Affairs

At its February meeting, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church awarded $821,000 in grants for church planting and Mission Enterprise Zones, to fund the start of 20 new ministries throughout the Church.

The grants for church planting and Mission Enterprise Zones, which are evangelistic ministries with populations that are under-represented in the church, are funded through General Convention 2015 Resolution D005, approved as part of the Jesus Movement priority to build a capacity for church planting in the Episcopal Church. 

The Genesis Group – the Advisory Group of Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Local Ministry and Mission – received and reviewed 35 grant requests. Executive Council approved $821,000 in matching grants to the following ministry applications.

  • $510,000: six new church starts                                                                    
  • $85,000: one renewing ministry (started in the last triennium)
  • $100,000: two Hybrid/Mission Enterprise Zone grants
  • $100,000: five new Mission Enterprise Zones
  • $26,000: six discernment grants

The following are the grant recipients and a brief description from the Rev. Thomas Brackett, Episcopal Church Manager for Church Planting and Mission Development. Links to these ministries are here.

New Church Starts

Episcopal Church Parker County, Diocese of Fort Worth – $100,000
This ministry will plant an Episcopal Church in the middle of the largest new community currently being built in the United States (projected population of 50,000 residents). In a state where churchgoing is still the norm, many of these families will be looking for a church to attend. The Episcopal Church of Parker County, which already has roots in the area, plans to welcome them with traditional worship in the context of a generous, inclusive, Gospel-based ministry.
Communidad Latina de San Dunstan, Diocese of Oklahoma – $100,000
This grant funds a Latino Mission Developer Team for St. Dunstan’s in Tulsa, OK where a new Spanish-speaking faith community has begun to grow. This community is now larger than many Anglo congregations, and, to keep the momentum going, the diocesan leadership is convinced that this is the moment to approach this as an official church plant. Their long-term vision is to use St. Dunstan’s as a “ministry incubator.” Amid this stable and supportive congregation, they plan to form a mission team made up of clergy, lay missioners, Christian educators and musicians. When phase one is complete, and the community at St. Dunstan’s is firmly rooted, the mission team will work to facilitate the next church plant in Tulsa. Collaboration and mutuality will be foundational attributes of this ministry.
Misa Magdalena, Diocese of Washington – $100,000
The vision for this new Latino Hispanic ministry in the Aspen Hill community of Washington, DC emerged from the ministry developer’s relationships with local community leaders. They invited her to come start a new church in their community, similar to the successful Latino Hispanic congregation she recently started elsewhere. This is to be a sacramental, bilingual neighborhood church in a community with one of the highest concentrations of Latinos in the Washington DC area. Their evangelism and outreach is focused on neighbors who are un-churched or under-churched.

Sudanese Congregation at St. Paul’s, Diocese of Central NY – $50,000
This new ministry serving those resettled from Sudan is an important ministry in a growing and under-represented part of the Episcopal Church. The Diocese of Central New York and local congregations are keen to support the Rev. Rebecca Amour who is one of the first women priests ordained in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. This congregation is already growing; weekly attendance is already averaging more than 50 and new families are joining regularly.

Senor de la Misercordia, a partnership between the Episcopal Churches and the Lutheran Churches in Iowa – $100,000
Señor de la Misericordia is a new Hispanic church community being planted within Trinity Episcopal Church in Denison, IA, in partnership with the Western Iowa Synod, ELCA. Denison’s Hispanic population has grown to nearly 50% of the town’s population, and continues to grow at a rate of 39% per year. The town’s only elementary school is located across the street from Trinity Episcopal Church, with two-thirds of students speaking Spanish. The church is in a prime location for reaching these families, equipping them for Christ’s mission and ministry. The Rev. Filemon Diaz, an ELCA pastor with a track record of developing new Hispanic congregations, has been called to lead this new faith community.

Two Cultures, One Body in Christ, Diocese of New Jersey – $60,000
The Diocese of New Jersey is launching a Latino Hispanic church planting initiative in Monmouth County. This initiative builds on a successful pilot program in which their missioner successfully planted two new Hispanic/Latino congregations in partnership with two existing non-Hispanic congregations (All Saints, Lakewood and St. Thomas, Red Bank) in the region. A third church plant at Christ Church, Toms River is currently in progress and demonstrating similar success. The process of building these new faith communities and moving Hispanic and non-Hispanic congregations into relationship, cultural understanding, and common worship with each other has been – and continues to be – mutually and continually transformational. This next phase of ministry seeks to build on the experience and momentum from the pilot program by adding resources and developing new practices to expand the program to include Trinity Church in Asbury Park.

Renewing ministry
Church on the Square, Diocese of Maryland – $85,000
The faith community known as “Church on the Square, Canton” has made great progress in these last two years, forming a faith community in full partnership with the ELCA Maryland Synod. Since funded in the last triennium, the leaders have been energetically tilling the relational soil of this culturally diverse neighborhood and this ministry is taking off. They have rehabilitated the sanctuary that Lutheran partners offered and they have established themselves as the “heart of the community.” They describe themselves as “an open, creative refuge, respectful of all beliefs … that seeks to build community in service of Southeast Baltimore.  Through addressing wellness and environmental issues; nurturing arts and culture; enriching our common life together through faith, spirituality and doubt, Church on the Square seeks to be an inclusive home for you with Christ at its core.”

“Hybrid” Ministry Starts
Latinos Pa’lante St. Mary’s Latino Ministry, Diocese of Massachusetts – $60,000
This will be a Latino Hispanic faith community, sponsored by St Mary’s Episcopal Church (Dorchester MA) and the Diocese. The ministry plan describes growing the Latino presence at St. Mary’s through starting an additional service in Spanish on Sundays; through consciously and intentionally connecting with the various ministries that currently work with and impact the lives of Latinos in Dorchester and through the expansion of their parish identity to include the wide-diversity of Latino identities.

The Divine Office, Diocese of Los Angeles – $40,000
The Divine Office (TDO) is an ecumenical sacred co-working community for young adults who work independently, especially spiritual seekers and those who self-identify as “spiritual not religious.” TDO integrates spiritual practices of monastic communities with the secular phenomenon of creative co-work spaces, becoming a day monastery of sorts for freelancers, entrepreneurs and remote workers. TDO will be located on the campus of St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica, on the far west side of Los Angeles, a downtown neighborhood of office, retail and apartment buildings where virtually all coffee shop seats fill up by 8 am with freelancers working on their laptops. In this bustling landscape, TDO will offer the sanctuary of a supportive community, rooted in Christ, a place to settle into a rule of life with the rhythm of daily prayer, meditation and worship punctuating the beginning, middle and end of the workday. TDO will be a community where young adults can forge relationships, discover and nurture their faith and explore how their spiritual and vocational lives inform one another and feed into all aspects of their lives.

Mission Enterprise Zones

St. Luke’s Ministry Interns, Diocese of Olympia – $20,000
This will be a residential community of graduate level theology and psychology interns focused on contextualized ministry in a church and neighborhood with a significant population of hungry and unsheltered folks. This ministry will host experiential learning ventures in a diverse, urban and rapidly changing environment. Their ministries will be focused on the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle; the congregation reflects the significant diversity of the neighborhood in income, ethnic make-up and age. Their meals program “Edible Hope” offers ministry with their non-white neighbors, of all ages. Their resident interns serve as a bridge between the worlds of residents and the worlds of the homeless.

Between the Ridges, Diocese of Spokane – $20,000
Between the Ridges will coordinate a new monthly worship service at Noah’s Ark Homeless Shelter in Wapato, WA on the Yakima Reservation in central Washington. This new worship service will be shepherded by Episcopal volunteers, as well as a diversity of ecumenical partners who support Noah’s Ark, with the goal of developing leadership among the homeless. These leaders in formation will become the core of the worshipping community. Radical hospitality – a central value of Noah’s Ark Homeless Shelter – will help to shape the liturgy which will evolve through reflection on their practice, over time. They seek to reimagine a worshipping community that moves beyond the privileged welcoming people to “our” community, to forming a new community on the margins, in which we all together receive the welcome of Jesus.

The Center for Mission and Ministry at St. Paul’s, Diocese of Kansas – $20,000
The Center for Mission and Ministry will be a dynamic association of ministries united under one roof, sharing a common vision, congruent values, and practical resources to holistically engage their neighbors in body, mind, and spirit. This Kansas City ministry unites three Episcopal institutions in one location: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, a 160-year-old Episcopal parish providing opportunities in English and Spanish for Christian formation, worship and service; Episcopal Community Services, leading hunger relief and anti-poverty efforts for the Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Kansas and West Missouri; and St. Francis Community Services, dedicated to the needs of children, youth and families through advocacy, programs, and services. This strategic partnership will offer worship in English and Spanish, a co-operative food pantry, daily meal service integrating healthy eating and healthy lifestyle protocols, nutrition and cooking classes, a community garden, a Youth After-School Program incorporating life and job skills training, Yoga, ESL, Zumba, and 12-step programs.

Franklinton Cycleworks, Diocese of Southern Ohio – $20,000
Franklinton Cycleworks (FCW) was born in response to a material need within the community of Franklinton, OH as well as a shared longing for connectedness. The leaders are helping people overcome transportation barriers by helping them fix and maintain their bicycles; teaching bike maintenance skills in the process. Many of the shop patrons have become volunteers themselves and now assist and teach others. While many of their patrons and volunteers are residents of Franklinton (a downtown neighborhood of Columbus, OH), others come from elsewhere and from different backgrounds. It’s therefore not uncommon to see a homeless man teach a middle-class college student how to fix a flat or a jobless addict be greeted by a business CEO with dignity and respect. FCW seeks to nourish this growing sense of community and fully live into their calling as a sacred front porch or Third Place for the neighborhood.

Proyecto para una panadería y pastelería, Diocese of Ecuador – $20,000
This new ministry will offer healing and hope to their community by founding a bakery at the back of their church. They will sell a variety of baked goods and other products but they will freely share the Gospel. As bread is a dietary staple in the Ecuadoran diet and as good bread is in great demand, this initiative will also offer work for the young people and women attending the church as well as those yet unemployed. Many of these families had to move from Emeraldas to this Guayaquil neighborhood, following the earthquake and the destruction of their homes in April 2016.

Discernment grants (offered to assist with the costs of developing a solid ministry plan that we might fund in the next triennium)
Two new Latino Hispanic Church Starts, Diocese of Dallas – $5,000
This is to discern the possibility of two Latino Hispanic church plants in the Diocese of Dallas.

Christ Church Bayfield, Diocese of Eau Claire – $3,000
This is an opportunity to partner with the Diocese of Eau Claire and with Native American Ministries. This discernment grant is to assist with the assessment, training, and coaching of leadership in the re-start of a church in Bayfield, WI adjacent to the Redcliffe Reservation.

Diocese of Newark – $5000 discernment grant
In support of the Diocese of Newark as they plan to develop a new faith community. We intend for this grant to offset the costs of training and consulting for the leaders of this new church start.

Diocese of Olympia – $3000 discernment grant

In support the Diocese of Olympia as it plans to develop a new faith community. We intend for this grant to offset the costs of training and consulting for the leaders of this new church start.

Diocese of Iowa – $5000 discernment grant

In support of the Diocese of Iowa as it develops a new faith community focused on racial reconciliation. We intend for this grant to offset the costs of training and consulting for the leaders of this new initiative.

Diocese of Arkansas – $5000 discernment grant

In support of the Diocese of Arkansas as they plant a new church focused on local food and farming. We intend for this grant to offset the costs of training and consulting for the leaders of this new initiative.

For more information contact Brackett.

At its October 2016 meeting, Executive Council approved the first round of grants totaling $1,797,000 for church planting and Mission Enterprise Zones, funding 34 new communities and initiatives.