EHF’s Congregational Engagement team aims to strengthen the capacity of congregations in the Diocese of Texas and increase efforts to engage in community transformation. EHF offers limited financial support for congregations to develop and enhance their involvement in the community through ministry and other health outreach programs.
These Congregational Engagement funds are not to be confused with EHF’s Grant-Making work and come with a separate set of guidelines.
The Instructions to Apply for Congregation Support provide congregations with a guide to the application process. It includes information about eligibility criteria, examples of the work we support, components of an application and an overview of the review process. Financial support to congregations averages about $5,000 and typically doesn’t exceed $10,000 in a given year per institution. Funds are intended to help start new initiatives, expand existing programs or provide training or other support needed to build congregational capacity. We do not provide on-going operating costs of existing ministries or funds for buildings or construction costs.
Since launching this initiative, we have provided financial support to eight congregations for special projects or technical assistance. We anticipate supporting more congregations in 2016.
Below you will find a few examples of how congregations have partnered with EHF and made use of funds to support their work in the community:
- St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church, Hearne
St. Phillip’s is a small congregation located in a community that is facing major leadership challenges. At one point last year, the Hearne City Council quit meeting at all. After attending the Texas Rural Leadership Program conference with EHF support, members of St. Phillip’s approached EHF for financial support to bring the positive and action-oriented TRLP civic leadership program to their community. EHF financial support helped the congregation launch the program this Spring. As part of the training, participants identify community development projects that use existing resources to create new opportunities and address local needs.
- St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Houston
St. Timothy’s is located in a neighborhood that has changed dramatically since it was established in the 1980s. Originally a predominately Anglo congregation in a mostly Anglo community, now the community is more than 60% Hispanic. The Anglo membership has declined and most have moved out of the neighborhood. The congregation has become a destination parish for those that still attend. In May 2013, the church started a Spanish language mass which has grown to 40 attendees each Sunday. As a congregation and a community in transition, St. Timothy’s seeks to develop the capacity of their leaders to reach out to the surrounding community and begin building relationships with their neighbors. With financial support from EHF, they are joining The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) for leadership training, to learn how to build strong relationships in their community, and to collaborate to take action to address issues of priority to the community.
- St. James’ Episcopal Church, Austin
St. James’ Austin requested financial support to cover partial training costs for congregation members and interns to run a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School in their community. The youth summer academic enrichment program serves 50 students recruited from Austin zip codes with the highest concentrations of low-income families. The program is a project of St. James’ Austin’s Welcome Table, which houses the congregation’s outreach programs. Participation in the Freedom Schools helped build relationships in the community and generated a lot of energy and enthusiasm among congregation members that they can build upon for future initiatives.
If financial support from EHF could help launch or expand your congregation’s involvement in the community, email us for more information or with any questions.