Holy Currencies: Sustainable Ministry Incubation Moves Ideas to Action

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In the Spring of 2016, the Rev. Rich Houser, Associate Rector at Trinity, Houston approached EHF requesting support for a training he had organized with four area congregations using the Kaleidoscope Institute’s Holy Currencies framework. As Rev. Houser put it, the purpose of the training was to “identify the specific health needs of each community and create ministries that will benefit the overall quality of life.”

This training also included teams from St. Stephen’s Houston, St. George’s Texas City and St. Luke’s Houston. It was the beginning of what has become a robust on-going partnership between EHF and the Kaleidoscope Institute to provide in-depth training and support to congregations across the Diocese interested in advancing high-quality, collaborative, sustainable ministries focused on community needs.

What is Holy Currencies?
Holy Currencies is a model for developing congregational ministries created by the Kaleidoscope Institute, part of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. This model has been used internationally to strengthen the impact and sustainability of community-oriented ministries.

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It includes six “currencies”, or resources that, when combined, can lead to a more transformational ministry. Each currency highlights a way to examine the ministry and add value:

  • The Currency of Time and Place ensures appropriate human and physical resources to support implementation of the plan
  • The Currency of Gracious Leadership creates a welcoming approach to those with whom you want to support and connect
  • The Currency of Relationship examines potential partnerships that could add value to the organization
  • The Currency of Truth creates a positive process for learning about the wants and needs of the community and beneficiaries, and how the ministry might best support them
  • The Currency of Wellness ensures that the work you are doing enhances the physical, mental and spiritual health of the congregation and community
  • The Currency of Money explores how the ministry can become a sustainable resource for the community for years to come.

Many congregations have approached EHF with a desire to develop more robust ministries in their communities and requesting help for how to design and build them. Following the initial training that Rev. Houser had organized at Trinity, EHF formed a partnership with the Kaleidoscope Institute to offer more intensive training, consulting and support to help more congregations in the Diocese of Texas apply this framework to their ideas through a sustainable ministry incubation program.

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Holy Currencies and EHF - Launching Sustainable Ministries
Since then, 12 congregations have participated in the program through EHF's partnership with the Kaleidoscope Institute. Congregations form a team and apply to participate in developing their ministry over a six to nine-month period. Congregations identify an “unacceptable reality” in their community they wish to address. Through the program, they systematically examine and build plans to address the “currencies” to ensure their initiatives are sustainable. Through a two-day orientation, series of webinars, regular team meetings and action learning experiences, and coaching sessions with EHF and Kaleidoscope Institute staff, they apply tools and develop the structure necessary to build a sustainable initiative benefiting the community.

The Holy Currencies teams bring an open mind and begin thinking about which currencies would improve their work. Through the training, the teams do "homework" focusing on developing each or the currencies as they apply to their initiatives.

For example, in a recent webinar, St. James, Austin reported on "homework" to map the many relationships they have built through their Neighbor to Neighbor program. They have also planned a series of "truth events" to listen and learn more from people in the congregation and community that will help identify community assets and needs they can build upon as they further develop their ministry in East Austin.

Using the Holy Currencies framework has helped congregations build stronger ministries by allowing them to clarify and focus their mission. They also identify assets they could build on and use to overcome obstacles. At Holy Comforter, Spring, the relationship-building work helped them realize their strongest community partner was Northwest Assistance Ministries. By building on this relationship, they are now able to provide mental health and substance abuse resources to a much larger audience.

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  • Four of the congregations participating in the first group from the Spring of 2017 recently participated in a "Showcase" of their work. You can view each of their PowerPoint presentations below:


Holy Currencies and Post-Harvey Disaster Relief
For St. Isidore’s, The Woodlands and the Mosaic Center of St. Andrew’s, Pearland, the work with the community they had done through the Holy Currencies incubator helped them quickly move into action for post-Harvey relief.

"Because of our on-going involvement in the community, people came to us requesting help in the aftermath of the storm," said Debbie Allensworth, Senior Associate & Community Pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Pearland - Mosaic Campus. "We applied the tools we learned through Holy Currencies to identify the relationships we had and how we could best respond to the needs of families in the area."


What's Next for Holy Currencies
EHF plans to continue offering Holy Currencies training to interested congregations. We will offer an orientation to Holy Currencies March 2-3, 2018 that is open to congregations interested in learning more about Holy Currencies. This orientation will not involve on-going training or any commitments to future work. It will allow those curious about Holy Currencies to come and explore how they might apply it in their communities. Sign up here if you would like to receive a notice when registration opens for this training.

EHF will launch another more intensive Sustainable Ministries Incubation program in the fall of 2018. Congregations will apply with proposals for new ministries they would like training and support to further develop through Holy Currencies. Application will be accepted in the late spring of 2018. Specific deadlines and dates will be announced in early 2018.

Participating congregations:

Spring 2017 Cohort

Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, Spring: improve outcomes for youth with mental and behavioral health needs in partnership with Northwest Assistance Ministries

Mosaic Center - St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Pearland: supporting the special education community. They are now applying their Holy Currencies skills to develop a long term post-Harvey disaster relief ministry.

St. Isidore Episcopal Mission, The Woodlands: Addressing poverty and food insecurity work with the Tamarack Pines housing complex residents, building lasting relationships and wellness

St. John’s Episcopal Church, LaPorte: Holy Healthy Community, including the re-envisioned St. John’s After School Program and the addition of St. John’s Living Compass Wellness Center

Trinity Episcopal Church, Marble Falls: goal of ending hunger in Burnet County


Fall 2017 Cohort

Holy Comforter – Angleton – community development with a farmer’s market 

St James Austin multi-program East Austin Wellness Center / Welcome Table

St James Houston conducting community needs assessment, potential focus on seniors and their caregivers, and area schools

St Dunstan's Houston 1960 Hope Center future plans and Tiny House Initiative

Christ Church Tyler (2nd Campus) Youth mentoring ministry (including exploration of a social enterprise potential)

Holy Spirit Waco Community Wellness ministry

November/December 2017

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