Executive Council has approved recipients of 15 evangelism grants totaling $37,450.
“This program will encourage our whole church to share resources, catalyze imagination, and ultimately cultivate a network of evangelists who can learn from each other and connect with each other,” said the Rev. Canon Susan Brown Snook, chairwoman of both the Episcopal Evangelism Grants Committee and the Executive Council Committee on Local Mission and Ministry.
The Episcopal Evangelism Grants program is coordinated by the Local Mission and Ministry Committee in collaboration with the Episcopal Church’s Evangelism Initiatives team.
“Evangelism isn’t some scary practice only ‘other’ Christians do,” said the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, and a member of the grants committee. “Evangelism is the heart of Christian life, and we hope this program will light a fire and connect Episcopalians who are creating unique, authentically Episcopal ways of seeking, naming and celebrating Jesus’ loving presence everywhere.”
The 15 Evangelism Grant recipients are:
- McIlhaney Parish, Charlottesville, Virginia ($2,000):This is an intentional Episcopal young adult living community involved in justice work in Charlottesville. A number of other people involved in justice work have gathered around them for meetings and organization, and have become intrigued by the Episcopal faith. They wish to start a worshiping community.
- St. Christopher’s Church, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania ($3,000):This will be a wellness and spirituality church plant that gathers on websites, in conferences, and locally. It will support progressive Christian women who want to grow in their faith and change the world, and will blend the best of parish life with the flexibility of the internet.
- Trinity on the Green, New Haven, Connecticut ($2,000):In response to the growing opioid crisis, Trinity on the Green has taken the opportunity to bring Jesus’ message of hope to people struggling with addiction and consequent isolation. Through its weekly gathering, sharing of life stories and common meals, participants in its spiritual fellowship group have a chance to speak, be heard, pray, and worship.
- Church of the Ascension, Rochester, New York ($2,000): The church held a revival last year and will host another this year. The purpose is to celebrate God’s love and it will be open to everyone. The revival will include preaching, Gospel reading, music, children’s activities, skits, and testimonies. The event will involve diocesan churches that want to collaborate and contribute to activities. Outreach will include people in the northwest region of Rochester, including many who lack a church home.
- Bread of Life Preaching Station, Ministry on the Margins, North Dakota ($1,000): This grant will purchase a Communion table and supplies. The Bread of Life preaching station was endorsed by the North Dakota Episcopal Diocesan Council in 2015. Services are held weekly at the center, which focuses on support to people in the community through a food bank, spiritual direction and post-prison programs. The grant will also fund two people’s attendance at Evangelism Matters to help them incorporate evangelism into the ministry.
- St. Andrew’s Church, Saratoga, California, Bridge Project ($2,000): The church currently provides weekly Sunday afternoon worship services to two men’s dorms at the county jail and hosts two Education for Ministry classes in each dorm. The goal is to expand the ministry from the incarcerated to working strategically with those men released and reentering the community.
- St. Matthew’s Church at Brownspoint, Tacoma, Washington ($1,000):The Freedom of Religion Film Festival will engage the audience with the essence of justice issues within our immigrant nation, by producing stories that touch the heart and soul of what it means to be free. Plans include a variety of film programming over a two-day competition, after-film conversations with the artists, seminars, and food. The model may be reproduced in other parishes.
- Diocese of Indianapolis ($4,700):The diocese has discerned a need to reimagine evangelism comprehensively. Phase 1 of the project will be workshops for clergy on evangelism as the practice of spiritual intimacy. In Phase 2, lay leaders will receive training, and then the entire diocese will experiment with the method both inside and outside their congregations. In Phase 3, the project will reconvene at diocesan convention to explore the practice and next steps.
- Diocese of Vermont ($6,000): Green Mountain Witness is designed to catalyze Vermont Episcopalians to tell their faith story in the light of God’s story in friendships, work, neighborhoods. and casual daily encounters. Attendance at the March 2018 Evangelism Matters conference, an evangelism keynoter and seminars at the 2018 Diocesan Convention, and follow-up workshops in congregations will be integral to the initiative. This initiative comes in the context of Vermont being among the least religiously affiliated states in the United States.
- Diocese of the Dominican Republic ($8,0000; The diocesan vision is a nine-month program to build capacity in the local churches. The initiative includes inviting, accompanying, motivating, and forming new believers in the realities of the conditions of the marginalized; forming and instructing children and young people in the Christian faith; and supporting missionary work for the evangelism of communities.
- St. Edward’s Church, Silverton, Oregon ($1,000):St. Edward’s seeks to host small-group dinners, bringing together people of varying life experiences to eat and talk. St. Edward’s hopes to bring together community members with intentionality, choosing a cross-section of political views, ethnicities, ages, genders, and so on, to eat and listen. The church will spread the gospel by creating safe and enjoyable space for people to find commonality in divided times.
- Northwest Region, the Episcopal Church in Connecticut ($2,000): Twelve lay people, from four different parishes, will gather to be trained as preachers. The group will gather for four sessions, two hours each, to be trained by a person who has experience in training lay preachers. The goal of this initiative is to equip laypersons with tools and a social support system so they may go forth and proclaim the word of God in the pulpits of their parish and beyond.
- St. Mark’s Church, Cheyenne, Wyoming ($250): An infant playgroup, Baby and Me, will meet weekly for one and one-half hours at St. Mark’s. The church intends to serve infants and their parents within the Cheyenne community. It will be led by a professional nurse and will provide an opportunity to share the love of Jesus through play and support. The play group is in response to a survey conducted by the Wyoming Children’s Trust Fund.
- St. Helena’s Church/Iglesia Episcopal Santa Elena, Diocese of Chicago ($2,000): “Becoming the Beloved Community” is an initiative designed to chronicle one parish’s coming-of-age journey. St. Helena’s/Santa Elena is undergoing a renewal process that seeks to integrate English-speaking and Spanish-speaking people into a unified community of faith and discover its spiritual identity. The program will include a video series on individual stories of faith, community listening sessions, public events, and a social media campaign to invite neighbors to share their stories and join the community.
- Memorial Church of the Good Shepherd, Vienna, West Virginia ($500): Good Shepherd is in a non-growing depressed region. The church is located on an infrequently traveled street in a part of town that people do not come into unless they need to be there. God has, however, helped church members have significant outreach ministries to their neighbors. This project is a social media-based ad campaign to encourage people to find the church based on the question “Where is the Pink Church?”
Episcopal institutions (congregations, dioceses, provinces, schools, monastic communities, organizations and other affiliated entities) are eligible to receive these funds. Regional collaborative partnerships with non-Episcopal entities are welcome, but an Episcopal entity needs to serve as the project leader, active manager, and reporting agent. Those associated with a seminary or formation program are encouraged to explore funding through the Episcopal Evangelism Society.