Congregation Connection

Participants from across the Episcopal Diocese of Texas joined the Episcopal Health Foundation for the second virtual In Common: Addressing Poverty. This year’s focus was on equipping congregations with the tools they need to create impactful and transformative change in their communities.

With the help of our guest speakers, panelists, and staff, attendees learned more about the impact of poverty on food insecurity, mental health, and how they could create a meaningful poverty ministry.

Upon being asked to reflect on their experiences at In Common, some participants said:

“Our ministry has been largely on hold throughout the pandemic. In Common helped me frame multiple steps in getting back on track sooner rather than later.”

“The speakers and panelists were excellent and provided both ideas and resources that I could see myself using in the future.”

Keynote Address and Panel Discussion on Food Insecurity
Jeremy Everett, Founder and Executive Director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty kicked off Monday evening with a keynote address entitled “Justice: Our Cultural Moment to Cultivate Common Ground for the Common Good.” Mr. Everett highlighted how faith, research, and community organizing can be used to address food insecurity and poverty.

Mr. Everett’s talk was followed by a panel discussion led by The Rev. Steven Balke of St. Stephen’s, Beaumont with Doree Collins, M.Ed., Unincluded Club, Temple; The Rev. Alex Montes-Vela, St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal, Manor; and The Rev. Dave Sugeno, Trinity Episcopal, Marble Falls. Panelists spoke about the work that their churches and organizations are doing to combat poverty and hunger.

WATCH NOW: Keynote Address and Panel Discussion on Food Insecurity

Mental Health, Poverty and Systems Change in Texas
The second night of In Common featured Dr. Lynda Frost, Lynfro Consulting; Anna Jackson, Alpinista Consulting; and Jason Johnson, Hill Country MHDD Centers. Mr. Johnson shared his personal experiences with mental health challenges and stressed the power of support he felt from peers who stayed in relationships with him as he navigated the mental health system

Together, our workshop leaders for Tuesday night focused on the relationship between poverty and mental health, a systems view of the policies and practices that are influenced by and influence poverty dynamics, and how people in congregations can meaningfully support those navigating mental health and economic challenges in their own communities.

WATCH NOW: Mental Health, Poverty and Systems Change in Texas

Practical Steps to Starting Your Poverty Ministry
Our final workshop of In Common focused on how congregations can come together to create a community poverty ministry of their own or restart one post-pandemic. Our presenters included Doug Greco, Central Texas Interfaith; The Rev. Bill Cruse, Kaleidoscope Institute; and EHF staff Willie Bennett and Eric Moen.

This workshop explored different approaches to impacting poverty, how to develop one’s ministry approach, how to identify and recruit team members, and how to survey the real needs of the community. EHF has upcoming cohorts for congregations interested in furthering what they learned at In Common.

For congregations who are interested in beginning an outreach ministry but who need ideas about where to start, they should apply to EHF’s Holy Currencies Ministry Idea Incubator here.

For congregations who have existing charity based ministries but who are looking to deepen community relationships and create transformational change, they should apply to EHF’s Poverty Transformation Cohort here.

WATCH NOW: Practical Steps to Starting Your Poverty Ministry

Thank you to all of our participants, panelists, and speakers!
In Common 2021: Addressing Poverty helped highlight how poverty impacts well-being and developed meaningful steps that congregations can take to create lasting change.

If you have any follow up questions or would like to speak to a Congregational Engagement Officer, please contact us!