In March, EHF hosted its largest and most comprehensive event for congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. More than 100 people gatehred at the In Common conference at Ascension Episcopal Church in Houston.
Participants chose one of three program tracks — Racial Reconciliation, Civic and Community Engagement, and an introduction to Holy Currencies with The Rev. Dr. Eric Law. Each track provided resources, partners, and dialogue on each of the important issues. In Common highlighted current work in these areas happening across the diocese and inspired many on how to connect with their communities to address these areas of work. Each track of the conference provided in-depth dialogue and personal sharing.
“I especially loved meeting other people from different congregations and finding out all the wonderful work each is doing.”
– In Common participant
The variety of speakers and strategy leaders from across the country included EHF’s Community Engagement team, EHF’s Kitchen Cabinet, representatives from The Metropolitan Organization, Austin Interfaith, ProjectCURATE, Kaleidoscope Institute, Traces of the Trade, and One Human Race to name a few.
The Civic and Community Engagement track focused on strategies for reaching beyond church walls to give a voice to the marginalized and to engage community members in efforts to build up and strengthen neighborhoods together.
“The information provided, along with the exercises we did, caused me to look at community engagement in a different, more practical view. I can definitely see our congregation utilizing these concepts in the near future.”
-In Common participant
The Civic Engagement sessions resulted in several congregations participating in additional training with the partners and groups with whom they connected at the event.
The Rev. Dr. Eric Law, founder and Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Institute led an extensive orientation to the EHF’s Holy Currencies incubator program for sustainable ministry. EHF’s partner churches shared inspiring stories from the first two Holy Currencies cohorts. Members from St. John’s Episcopal Church, LaPorte shared parts of their compelling story of how making connections across multiple divides in town has transformed their thinking and way of caring for the community.
The workshop detailed the six currencies (Truth, Wellness, Gracious Leadership, Time and Place, Money, and Relationship) and shared stories of what the impact can be when they all “flow” to create a ministry eco-system.
“A light bulb moment for me was clarification in the Holy Currencies sessions that we need to search for the ‘truth’. That we should talk to and engage our neighbors rather than assume that we know what the community needs or wants. Our service to the community will help us sustain our church.”
-In Common participant
Applications for the Fall 2018 Holy Currencies Incubator Cohort will open in May. Selected congregations will explore and develop sustainable community-focused initiatives. Interested churches can email EHF’s Congregation Engagement team to learn more.
The Racial Reconciliation track was supported by strategy leaders from across the country. They all shared a wealth of wisdom in understanding the complexities of talking about racism not only in our churches, but in our communities as well.
The Rev. Andrew Ellison and lay leader Edwina Thomas shared their story of doing this work at Trinity Episcopal Church in Marshall. In the fall of 2017, Trinity hosted an EHF-sponsored screening of Traces of the Trade that included a rich dialogue with the diverse community gathered and a subsequent community-wide dialogue facilitated by Project Curate.
Trinity’s work is currently focused on small, personal conversations to build relationship and trust across several divides in the community.
“My favorite part of the session was listening to participants from Trinity Episcopal Church in east Texas describe the difficulties they faced and the hope they have to bring anti-racism into the context of their ministry- their use of EHF resources was inspiring. Additionally, it was great to meet the folks from Traces of the Trade & One Human Race and to imagine how their work could serve as resources for our home church. The conference over-all was tremendously invigorating and well organized.”
–In Common participant
EHF will sponsor a second Traces of the Trade tour in October of 2018. If you would like to know more about the documentary film and how the dialogue can be helpful in your community, please contact Eric Moen.
“Step by step, we can change lives in each and every community, regardless of money or size of the community, by living the gospel. We just need to start first step and realize the answer is not throwing money at problems but building Christ like relationships with community and congregations.”
-In Common participant
If you’d like to see comments or photos from more In Common participants, join the EHF Churches Facebook group. By joining the group, you’ll stay up to date with EHF opportunities and see the inspiring work congregations across the diocese are doing.