The National “Called to Transformation” workshop comes to Texas

Episcopal Relief and Development brings the National "Called to Transformation" workshop on Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) to the Episcopal Diocese of Texas

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Story sharing is as old as time.
We meet new people and immediately look for the places and people we have in common with one another. That common space creates opportunity to share stories about our families, our history and our times of greatest joy and greatest pain. In that process and exchange of story sharing, we understand one another’s giftedness. What if one were to apply that same way of being to outreach and missions at your church?

That was the focus of the Called to Transformation training workshop led by the Episcopal Church and Episcopal Relief and Development in November at the Hines Spirituality Center in Houston. The workshop taught about the many benefits of Asset-Based Community Development.

Half of the 23 people in the training were from the Diocese of Texas, and many were from areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. With a surge of community needs caused by the storm, these participants were looking for ways to engage and support their communities as they recover.

What they learned offered them opportunities to use a new perspective. Often, when we put an outreach lens on a community, we quickly move into a “fix it” way of thinking. We scan the horizon and identify the things that are missing or broken about the situation. The skill set, knowledge and expertise we carry with us every day can now be used to “improve and make better” what we see before us.  But what if we were to sit down and visit with the community before we scan and fix? By sharing stories, asking questions and listening, you can create the same space described above with which we are all so familiar.

Sometimes what we see on the surface is not really the problem the community needs to focus on to move forward. When we move into knowing each other’s gifts, we overlook what we first perceived as missing and we come to know one another for our strengths and our assets. We seek solutions that build upon the gifts which lead to sustainability.

This is thinking based on Asset-Based Community Development.



Focus on deficits

Focus on assets

Problem response

Opportunity identification

Individual responses

Collective responses

Focus: individual

Focus: community

Fix people

Develop potential

See people as “clients”

See people as “collaborators”

Programs are the answer

People are the answer

Asset-based projects focus on a community’s strengths and resources

Asset Based Community Development moves away from “needs-based” thinking and creates building blocks of Human, Social, Physical, Environmental, Spiritual, Temporal, and Economic assets. By assessing these building blocks together in the community, a new way of thinking emerges.

An asset-based approach starts with individuals and organizations uncovering and identifying the assets and capacities already present within their own community. This process helps to build understanding of resources and strengths. The assets identified are then connected and mobilized to build up and strengthen the life of the local community.

This approach proposes that sustainable change only occurs when community members are committed to investing their own resources in achieving it. The key is to ‘locate all the available local assets, and to begin connecting them with one another in ways that multiply their power and effectiveness.’

The act of discovering, identifying and connecting people’s assets changes the way that individuals view themselves and those around them. Instead of seeing themselves as ‘needy’ or ‘deprived’, they begin to believe in their own potential to make their community a better place to live.


What participants said after the training
“I need to change how I see the world.”

“We need to move the conversation away from ‘what do you need’ and ask the question, ‘what are your hopes’.”

“I need to ask everyone, ‘What can you teach,’ because that is where their deep giftedness is.”

“I now see ABCD as a calling. I need to learn how to live out my call.”

“This has me re-thinking all of the big projects we work on and wondering how we can use this within church committees too.”

More information
If you would like to learn more about ABCD training, visit the Called to Transformation website, or contact EHF. Episcopal Relief and Development’s training dates for 2018 will be announced in early 2018 and EHF can offer financial assistance for you to attend. EHF also works with the Texas Rural Leadership Program to support deeper ABCD initiatives with congregations and their community partners.