Gratitude Comes Full Circle: A Discussion Featuring 2023 Grant Recipients
By Heather Melton, UTO Staff Officer
When UTO was founded, it was a rough start. The first offering was seen as successful, but the second one was much lower than the women anticipated. Ida Soule suggested that they tell the women where their money was going—not just ask them to make a thank offering—and see if it made a difference. They announced where the funds were going, and that year they exceeded the amount they needed to collect.
Ever since that time, UTO announces early in the year where the funds being collected will go the following year, which means a lot of us gave our thank offerings while wondering how the church might address the incarceration crisis in 2023. This November, our gratitude comes full circle when we get to hear from some of our grant sites about their work and the impact your thank offerings have on their ministries. Register using the link above and a zoom link will be sent out on Nov. 9.
This year we will hear from four grant sites:
Cypress House Bakery: Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem. (Cypress House at St. Luke’s will open a bakery and offer employment to previously incarcerated individuals, with a special concern to hire individuals who identify as Black, Latino/a, Indigenous, or of another marginalized identity. Apprentices will learn marketable skills in the baking industry via a baking methods/skills development curriculum.)
St. Leonard’s Ministries and St. Andrew’s Church: Community Gathering Space, Chicago, Illinois, in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. (This project will renovate Saint Andrew’s Church, on St. Leonard’s Ministries campus, to create a new community space for returning citizens. It will host residents, alumni, community partners, and faith leaders, and together share what it means to welcome returning citizens back into community with needed support, dignity, acceptance, and kindness.)
Well Time 2.0: Empowering Reentry: Des Moines, Iowa, in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. (Well Time 2.0: Empowering Reentry will recruit/prepare volunteers from churches to provide faith-based support to women recently released from prison through weekly group meetings at the Waterloo Women’s Center for Change and through individual reentry teams for women to offer compassionate guidance to overcome personal, societal, and economic barriers.)
Diocesan Justice Liaison Project: Tulsa, in the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma. (Oklahoma leads the nation in incarcerating mothers and fathers. New Hope at Trinity serves vulnerable children of prisoners, and the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma delivers many prison-based programs. A diocesan justice liaison will serve as an effective bridge between programs, encourage additional and new participation, and provide additional support unique to a social worker.)
Join to learn more about how Episcopal congregations and ministries are showing up and being the face of Christ in their communities while supporting returning citizens, families of incarcerated people, and more. We hope to see you at this wonderful webinar, where we can be inspired by the amazing things the church is doing and give thanks for the amazing work our thank offerings are funding.