More than 100 attendees representing 27 congregations and Episcopal entities took part in the first of EHF’s 2019 In Common gatherings hosted by Good Shepherd, Austin last month. Three workshops on Saturday provided an opportunity for participants interested to learn how to engage their community through relationship and partnering.
In Common began as a place for Episcopal Congregations and their community partners to gather and learn together that we all share a common desire for a healthier community. Last year, nearly 100 people gathered in Houston from across the diocese to learn how to engage their communities, welcome the stranger, and show Christ’s love in tangible and effective ways.
With a successful pilot event in 2018, EHF scheduled three events across the diocese for 2019. Along with the event in Austin, In Common events will be hosted by St. James’ Episcopal Church, Houston (May 10-11, 2019) and Christ Episcopal Church, Tyler (June 7-8, 2019).
In Common Austin began with a Friday night keynote by the Rev. Eric Law focused on how Holy Currencies can help congregations be relevant in their communities. Stories and examples from his work both nationally and locally in the diocese were featured in his talk, including members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Liberty, part of the EHF third group of Holy Currencies churches.
Mary Poston, a member of St. Stephen’s, told the crowd that as she began to share her dream for wellness in Liberty with her clients at work, she learned that they also had a similar dream.
“I would tell people about this dream for wellness and I’d pull my phone out and show them pictures of what we are doing, and people always get excited and say that is what they want for Liberty, too!” Poston said.
St. Stephen’s wellness ministry is called The dWELLing and includes a park and outdoor gathering space, a coffee house, a garden and a gymnasium. The Holy Currencies Cycle of Blessings has shown them how sharing their vision and listening to their neighbors can lead to a wellness ministry that exceeds even their own vision. Because of this, the team is now in conversation with Liberty ISD to rent space that would complete their vision.
On Saturday, the three workshops provided attendees with the skills needed to deepen local outreach ministry in different ways. The Holy Currencies workshop provided an orientation to the framework of the community-based church ministry incubator. In the community organizing workshop, participants learned the cycle of organizing, heard stories from those already organizing in their communities, and learned how to do small group meetings (house meetings) to listen to their neighbors. Those attending the Bridges Out of Poverty workshop learned differences in how things are perceived and valued between the middle class and those in generational poverty. The Bridges Out of Poverty curriculum gives deeper understanding of the realities facing the generational poor that leads to changing the middle-class mindset of judgement to one of curiosity.
“I would like to share what I learned in Bridges out of Poverty with my entire church,” shared one participant.
The great responses from Austin leave EHF excited about the next two In Common events in Houston and Tyler.