Six Episcopal congregations from across the Episcopal Diocese of Texas came together for the Fall 2018 Holy Currencies Orientation weekend at the Retreat at Artesian Lakes in Cleveland, TX.
EHF received applications from congregations across the diocese that were hoping to improve existing ministries or develop new ministry ideas to address the needs of their communities. Each congregation team was asked to propose an initiative and detail whom the program will serve, identify community partners, among other criteria.
Once accepted, the program consists of a series of webinars, regular team meetings, and coaching sessions over a six-month period with EHF and Kaleidoscope Institute staff. The in-person orientation and cohort launch provided teams the opportunity to connect with other congregations to share and learn from each another.
Holy Currencies Fall 2018 Participants
St. Andrew’s, Bryan
St. Andrew’s has partnered with Neal Elementary, a Title 1 school (more than 80% of students at free/reduced lunch), in significant ways for more than a decade. The Parent Academy program would be established to support families by teaching parents basic money management, parenting skills (and U.S. laws), nutrition, and community navigation. The congregation will be supporting families who live in the school’s attendance zone (500 children pre-K through 4th grade) to live healthier, more secure lives. By helping to connect them with each other and with St. Andrew’s, they will also build a mutual-support system that can extend beyond the school to the entire neighborhood. The vision is to deepen collaboration with Neal Elementary and pursue the exploration of a Parent Academy to be the foundation for a relationship with the larger community it serves.
St. Luke’s, Livingston
In early 2017, St. Luke’s Vestry and Rector expressed a desire to develop another direct outreach ministry to complement St. Luke’s Oasis Resale Shop ministry and St. Luke’s discretionary fund. The congregation narrowed their focus on mental health and has now created the Mental Health Initiative Team. The team’s vision is to develop a proactive partnership for mental health that will reduce the number of underserved individuals by removing barriers to allowing improved and sustainable access to mental health support systems in Polk, Trinity, and San Jacinto counties.
St. Philip’s, Hearne
St. Philip’s is hoping to establish a “First Saturday” monthly community celebration to build community and create a platform for identifying and addressing community needs. The vision is to establish a venue where local artists, musicians, and artisans gather to increase community pride and cohesion, support the revitalization of downtown Hearne, offer youth a safe and enriching social option, and support local schools that have few fine arts programming. The effort also hopes to initiate inclusive conversations to generate and enhance other community initiatives, including establishing a Health Resource Center in Hearne.
St. Stephen’s, Liberty
The idea to establish a Wellness Center in Liberty County began with a conversation between the Rector of St. Stephen’s and the local Texas AgriLife Extension agent. They took the idea to the Liberty County Health Awareness Coalition. The Wellness Center’s mission will empower citizens to take control of their own health and lives, and improve the health outcomes for the community through events such as cooking healthy meal demonstrations, exercise classes, and social activities. The goal is to encourage collaboration between nonprofit groups and private citizens, improve the health and well-being of the citizens in their largely underserved area, and become a key component of a Liberty County/Southeast Texas integrated health and wellness collaborative effort at affordable costs.
St. James’, La Grange
Second Chance Emporium is a secondhand store located in LaGrange, TX which has been in operation since the 1960s. The resale store’s mission has recently been expanded with events surrounding Hurricane Harvey and the operations that developed to create a disaster relief center for La Grange residents. Through this effort, Second Chance was able to make new connections within the community, primarily with a food pantry which will be located adjacent to the new facility. Given the shifted priorities and newfound connections, Second Chance and St. James’ are looking forward to revisiting their mission, vision, and setting new goals to address the overall health of their community.
The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection is feeding mouths and spirits through its monthly Diverted Food Pantry. The partnership with Whole Foods and other local grocers/restaurants has bridged the community and clients at the food pantry and a resale store. After a deeper look at their ministry, it was evident that gearing the program to serve immigrants and refugees would be a priority, since the thrift shop has already cultivated relationships in those communities with a clothes-voucher program. The Diverted Food Pantry hopes to create a strategy which continues to use a bridge-model to connect people to valuable resources that already exist in the community.
Follow each team’s journey through the Holy Currencies process in the EHF Churches Facebook Group.