In Common sparks movement for healthier communities

The event organized by EHF's Congregational Engagement team helped churches and organizations learn about the foundation's new priorities for change and how to focus efforts to have the greatest impact on their communities' health.

In Common 2024 at Camp Allen brought together 85 participants from 38 congregations and organizations to be inspired, gain new skills, and share stories about improving health in the communities they serve across the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

Bishop Andy Doyle kicked off the weekend event by sharing the history and compelling call to service that led to the establishment of the Episcopal Health Foundation and its mission to improve health, not just health care across the diocese.

“Most of all, we have to serve,” says Doyle. “We believe that the future of health for the people of Texas resides in non-medical drivers of health, not in tertiary hospitals. We have to move outside of our buildings, get to know our neighbors, to travel, and be disciples who become apostles for change to that we are integrally involved in the work of service and ministry.”

Doyle says EHF’s work is part of a future church that is focused on community context and will come alive in service.

“The future church will have to pioneer new efforts to meet constantly changing social needs. In these outposts are people who stand at the ready to make the neighborhood better, healthier, and safer. These are the things that matter to our communities.”

Dr. Ann Barnes, EHF’s president and CEO, explained the background behind the foundation’s new priorities for change – food and nutrition security, maternal health, and diabetes prevention – and the transformative impact that addressing these priority areas can have on the overall health of communities.

In Common included four workshops designed to catalyze action and foster deep discussions about how congregations can make impacts across the communities they serve:

  • Igniting Change outlined EHF’s priorities for change and asked congregations how they may begin to tackle these critical health issues in their own communities.
  • Beyond the Pantry highlighted the innovative approaches of 4Saints, Brazos Valley Mobile Food Pantry, Grace Alvin’s Mobile Food Pantry, and Bastrop County Cares in addressing food insecurity in unique and impactful ways.
  • Activating Community Voice introduced congregations and other partners in how they can design or strengthen community engagement efforts.

In Common laid down a robust blueprint for congregations and organizations to engage meaningfully in creating healthier communities.