Activating Community Voices Workshop series available to congregations

Understanding and having the skills to effectively engage community members is essential for connected communities. EHF's new workshop series provides basic tools for reaching out and connecting with your community.

In 2018, EHF is offering the Activating Community Voices Workshop series to small groups of 3-4 congregations at a time. Contact us if you’re interested in participating in a group workshop in your region.

EHF’s Activating Community Voices Workshop series focuses on moving from the mindset of fixing a community to the more sustainable model of partnering with a community. Health is improved when the partner listens to, recognizes and respects the diversity of community resources already present. Collaboration empowers communities to develop their own ability to make decisions and take action on their own.

One way to think about this work is to physically go out to see where God is working in your community. Where are the people seeking to improve the community conditions? Where are the people who are experiencing a particular injustice? Who are the people that may not have a fancy title, but everyone knows them and turns to them in the community?

Healthy communities are engaged communities that honor the dignity of all. These communities intentionally improve the quality of life for the people who live, work, worship, learn, and play there. Community engagement offers a way to enter the community as neighbors joining together and respecting the dignity and experiences of the people with whom you seek to work.

EHF’s Community Engagement team has developed a three-part Activating Community Voices Workshop series to help organizations plan and execute successful community engagement efforts:

1) Approaching Community Engagement (ACE) is an introduction to the principles of engagement. This interactive workshop helps participants understand how to use these tools to effectively build community relationships, and respond to concerns and issues faced by those we want to serve.

2) Creating a Community Engagement Plan helps congregations prepare a tailored plan of engagement.

3) Community Engagement Check-in helps congregations assess whether their engagement efforts are effective, and how they might be further strengthened.

Community Engagement in Action:
The experience of one community in applying this training

A year ago, the three Episcopal churches in the Bryan–College Station area came together to explore how they could connect with their neighbors more effectively. St. Francis, St. Andrew’s and St. Thomas had individual outreach efforts that included prison ministry, feeding homeless families, supporting the local immigrant population, involvement with Habitat for Humanity, and a desire to connect with their Bryan/College Station neighbors. They were looking to build upon this work and wanted to learn more about what they could to do in the neighborhoods around their churches.

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Following EHF’s Activating Community Voices Workshop series, members of St. Andrew’s organized a neighborhood walk. They went out into the neighborhood, took notice of what they saw, and connected with some of the people they encountered. The walk gave the congregation a richer picture of their community. They noticed things they had never known about before. From this experience, St. Andrew’s began to have a stronger sense of identity with the surrounding neighborhood, made new connections with neighbors, and learned about some of the issues they and their neighbors care about.

Now, St. Andrew’s is developing an inventory of key relationships to allow greater understanding of the community and more effective partnering. During Lent, they are inviting parishioners to do Prayer Walks in the neighborhood. As the relationships grow, the ministries will too, as St. Andrew’s is experiencing.

Interested in having the Activating Community Voices Workshop series presented to your congregation? Contact EHF to participate in a group workshop in your region.