In Common Austin 2020: Inspiration, Connection, and Action!

Clergy, lay leaders, and parishioners find inspiration during the first In Common gathering for 2020 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin.

For the third consecutive year, clergy lay leaders, and community partners gathered for the Episcopal Health Foundation’s In Common event. The gathering serves as a place for Episcopal congregations and their community partners to dream big, be inspired, and create a vision with like-minded individuals and congregations interested in building healthier communities.

In late February, more than 125 attendees, representing 22 congregations and Episcopal entities, gathered at St. David’s Episcopal Church, Austin for the first EHF In Common gathering of 2020!

Participants in the conference were exposed to speakers and strategy leaders from across the country, including representatives from The Episcopal Church, Traces of the Trade, Central Texas Interfaith, Lynfro Consulting, ProjectCURATE, Texas Demographic Center, Alpinista Consulting, and One Human Race.

In Common Austin began with a Friday night keynote presentation by  Dain and Constance Perry who hosted the Traces of the Trade Dialogue and Discussion. For more than 15 years, the Perrys have traveled the country utilizing the film as a starting point for churches and community groups to foster conversation and share stories to begin their journey to explore racial reconciliation. The screening at EHF’s In Common ignited conversations and opened minds to new perspectives around race relations and building relationships for reconciliation. 

On Saturday, In Common participants took part in one of three workshop tracks focused on Faithful Citizenship, Racial Reconciliation, and Mental Health where they were able to network with other groups doing similar work, learn from content experts, and explore ideas for next steps in their work. In a survey following the event, attendees shared any “light bulbs” that went off or any next steps to be taken as a result of attending the event.

Faithful Citizenship
Participants in the Faithful Citizenship track were led by Alan Yarborough, Presiding Bishop’s Office of Goverment Relations; Doug Greco of Central Texas Interfaith; Lila Valencia of the Texas Demographic Center; and EHF’s Willie Bennett. The workshop provided attendees with information and tools on how congregations can get involved with the 2020 Census and how congregations can begin to engage their communities to get out the vote. 

Participants said:
“I now have a much better understanding of the 2020 census and how significant it is for all residents of Texas. I really appreciated that the facilitators kept the focus of the conversation on the issue instead of our current political climate. What I learned from them helps me do the same in conversations with others.” 

“I had known the importance of the census, but this helped make it come alive for me. I feel a new urgency about it.”


Mental Health
The Mental Health workshop was guided by Anna Jackson with Alpinista Consulting and Lynda Frost with Lynfro Consulting. Attendees discussed mental health concepts and explored current diocesan work through congregations and community partners to promote mental health in the community. It also provided opportunities to share opportunities and challenges to address mental health between different communities.

“Getting to know available resources in Austin and appreciating the Episcopal Church’s efforts to address the health (physical, mental and spiritual) needs of all people, in Church goers as well as in the community at large.” 

“The mental health workshop pointed out how hidden this illness really is but showed us how to approach it with others.” 

“We are in the beginning stages of brainstorming what our church can do in regards to Mental Health in the community. So it was great to hear various ideas from both the presenters and the other participants.”


Racial Reconciliation
Led by One Human Race and Project Curate, the Racial Reconciliation workshop introduced participants to these partners and experience how they create dialogue, teach and strategize for community partnered racial justice. Throughout the course of the workshop, congregations learned tools and resources to help them develop a unique plan for engaging with their community for racial reconciliation.

“The One Human Race workshop was well facilitated and afforded the appropriate amount of time for group work and discussion. I really enjoyed it.” 

“We are moving forward with becoming the Beloved Community. We are planning to start using the Sacred Ground curriculum at St. David’s in Austin. We will begin in the fall 2020.”

 

We’ve received excellent responses from this year’s Austin attendees that will help inform our work, help us to find better ways to partner with congregations in the future, and help us improve our processes and planning for In Common events to come! If your congregation was unable to make In Common Austin but would like to learn more about one of the workshop tracks from the event or speak to one of our Congregational Engagement Officers, please contact us!


The In Common Houston event scheduled for March 27-28, 2020 has been postponed due to COVID-19.
The event will be postponed until Fall 2020—please check our EHF Churches Facebook Group as we will release the new dates soon!

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