June 5, 2012

What Gives You Hope?

Pssst. Have you heard?

Great things are happening in the Episcopal churches every single day.

This weekend I reviewed survey responses from subscribers to ECF Vital Practices. While there was a lot to review, I was particularly struck by the way one of our questions elicited inspiring stories and comments. These put fuel in my tank and reaffirmed my belief that the most transformative work in the Episcopal Church is taking place at the grassroots. Below you’ll find a small selection of the stories we received.

We are going to do our very best to tell these stories of strength and hope, but I would also encourage you to reach out and contact these communities directly if their strengths match your needs. Find out what they are doing right and what they’ve learned along the way. And when you’ve done so, be sure to share what you’ve learned in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. Also, be sure to share your own story of what gives you hope below.

Question: What is one project or new initiative that makes you the most excited or hopeful for your church’s future?

St. Paul’s and Church of the Resurrection, Naples, FL: We have a Farmers' Market from November to April that draws upwards of 2,000 cars on Saturday mornings.

St. Mary’s, Eugene, OR: Our children and youth ministry is strong. Our Sunday morning "Sunday School" program is strong through high school, which is something many churches struggle with. We have fellowship time as well, but our youth and their families make Sunday morning more of a priority than evening fellowship time, which says to me that they care about the uniquely Episcopal worship and learning we are providing.

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Attleboro, MA: We are committed to inviting and teaching youth members to serve the church at all levels - helping lead worship, sharing messages, teaching other children, reflecting in our visioning. They know that their voice is valued to us, and so they share with value for us.

Church of the Resurrection, Dallas, TX: Resurrection works closely with the Ferguson Road Initiative and the Greater Casa View Alliance to improve urban East Dallas - an economically challenged and ethnically diverse community. We host a number of "event evangelism" offerings during the year. Our Community Halloween Party was a cooperative effort with GCVA, our Gill Elementary PTA, and Resurrection. It brought together 1,200 people. We have done this 2 years in a row. We are preparing for our Community Easter Celebration - working with our friends. Last year we fed 540 hungry people as part of this event - we hope to reach out to 1,000 this year. "Event Evangelism" is a big reason we are rapidly growing in membership, ASA and stewardship.

St. Paul’s, Richmond, Indiana: [We are] bringing a LGBT and Allied Youth camp to the Diocese of Indianapolis this summer at Waycross Conference Center in July! … I believe the Episcopal church needs to do more outreach in this area considering the way these youth are bullied and some have nowhere to turn, especially without supportive parents or schools.

St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley, Los Olivos, CA: We are offering a cooking class for low-income families (families with limited food dollars and who use food stamps) to teach them how to quickly produce nutritious meals without resorting to fast food restaurants or junk food.

Sts. Mary and Martha Episcopal Church, Eagan, MN: We have developed a community garden to attract the community and to provide fresh produce for the local food shelf. People are very excited about it, and the garden opened last Saturday.