Imaginative Ideas Encouraged: The Episcopal Church in Connecticut Awards First Round of Region Entrepreneurial Grants Totaling $89,600
The Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT) has announced four ministries as awardees of Region Entrepreneurial Fund (REF) grants. The grants support innovative or expanding ministries that engage and energize parishes, Ministry Networks, and community partners throughout the six Regions of Connecticut.
During ECCT’s 2019-2020 Joining Jesus initiative, individual donors and eight participating parishes designated roughly $750,000 to the fund. The funds are intended to be fully distributed over the next five to six years. One of its main objectives is to encourage out-of-the-box thinking, emphasizing risk factors are not necessarily deterrents for potentially funded projects.
“The REF Granting Body is seeking ideas that are innovative in nature and collaborative across parishes,” said the Rev. Tim Hodapp, Canon for Mission Advancement & Coaching and a member of the fund’s granting body. “From exploring systemic racism that reaches to our colonial roots in villages and towns along the Sound, to purchasing a truck that will serve as a mobile ‘hot meals on wheels’ throughout the New Haven area… it’s just the beginning,” Hodapp said. “The beauty of this fund’s focus is multi-faceted, especially in the iterative ideation of these experiments and the numbers of parishes and community partners signing on. Success is as much in the trying these on as it will be in reflecting on where we saw our people showing up and joining Jesus in the work of God’s mission.”
Of the four ministries granted, one is based in food insecurity, one on an interfaith service day, and two in racial justice initiatives. A synopsis of each project can be found below.
“The funds from the Joining Jesus initiative have created a spring board for us to dive deeper into living into God’s dream, said the Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan. “These initiatives help us to learn more about ourselves and our neighbors. By building on existing partnerships and expanding our relationships in communities, we find new and bold ways to share God’s love. I am excited to see how these ministries will transform us, as well as energize new initiatives in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.”
There will be two upcoming granting cycles in March and September 2022.
More details on how to apply will be available on episcopalct.org/REF.
Grants awarded by decision of the Granting Body:
Holy Landers Ministry Network: $10,000
This opportunity unites the work of the Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB) and six parishes in the South Central, Southeast, and Southwest Regions (Christ Church, New Haven; Trinity on the Green, New Haven; Episcopal Church at Yale, New Haven; St. Peter’s Church, Milford; St. Andrew’s Church, Madison; St. Mark’s Church, New Canaan). Organizing with the youth and young adults of these parishes and 20 youth visiting from Palestine and Israel, an Interfaith Service Day in New Haven, early August 2022, will realized. As a part of JPB’s annual two-week service/learning institute, the Interfaith Service Day (ISD) will unite the Episcopalian, Palestinian, and Israeli youth in a day of service, meals, prayer, and conversation. Local leaders from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith communities, politicians, and others will participate with the youth in an end-of-day prayer service and celebration. With a mix of community service, reflection, and facilitated conversations, the youth participate in a day that draws diverse people and communities into deeper relationship with each other by responding to local human need, invigorating interfaith partnerships, and enriching spiritual formation among youth and young adults.
Racial Justice Witness Stones: $19,600
The Racial Healing, Justice & Reconciliation Ministry Network and parishes in the Southeast and Southwest Regions (St. John’s, Essex; St. Andrew’s, Madison; St. Matthew’s, Wilton; St. Mark’s, New Canaan), in collaboration with the Essex Historical Society, the Connecticut River Museum, First Baptist and First Congregational Churches [Essex], and faculty and administration of Valley Regional High School/Regional School District #4 will begin by substantiating the Witness Stones Project (WSP witnessstonesproject.org) in Essex. This process will be the template for engaging the parishes and towns of Madison, Wilton, and New Canaan. Through research, education, and civic engagement, WSP works to restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved individuals who lived, worked, and helped establish our towns. Memorial stones are created and placed near where enslaved people lived and worked, as identified through the research of middle and high-school students. Through field research, the students learn and help tell the stories of these individuals, creating a five-year curriculum for the schools developing a part of its town history that, until now, has remained hidden. Awakening this experience by engaging students and towns in the Regions provides opportunities for transformation within the schools and parishes around the critical issues where our colonial history and systemic racism intersect, indelibly marking us historically and reverberating today.
Dinner For a Dollar Food Ministry: $25,000
For more than a decade, Grace & St. Peter’s (GSP), Hamden, has operated Dinner for a Dollar (D4$), a ministry that provides a nutritious, home-baked meal (from the parish kitchen) for the food insecure of Hamden and the surrounding community of greater New Haven. The parish seeks to purchase a truck that will be used across a variety of parishes and feeding ministry alliances within New Haven. These parishes and organizations have committed resources (human, financial, time, and skills) to participate fully in the ministry. By offering volunteer hours, donations, onsite services, etc. D4$ is positioned to “go on the road.” While housed at GSP and coordinated through the established administration of D4$, the following institutions are participating in the current work and will assist in its expansion through greater New Haven. These institutions include Christ Church, Trinity on the Green, St. Luke’s, New Haven; St. Peter’s, Milford; Hamden Plains United Methodist Church, Hamden; Congregation Mishkan Israel, Hamden; ECCT Food Insecure Ministry Network; ECCT South Central Region Leadership Team; ECCT Episcopal Church Women; Community Soup Kitchen, New Haven; United Way; Town of Hamden; Hamden Food Security Task Force; and other local non-profits and restaurants providing additional food and funding for the meals. The detailed application provides everything from the additional $25k+ funds, in addition to grant dollars, to procure the truck, truck care and maintenance, and developing an army of volunteers to cook the food, establish distribution sites, and maintain the schedule for this “big idea.”
Marginalized Networking: $25,000
Beginning with the impetus to educate the small Southwest Region parish of Christ Church, Trumbull, about racial injustice and the systemic white supremacy in which it participates, four young women gathered to determine what, beyond just talking, they might do. Forming the Anti-Racism Alliance (Alliance), Eliane Baijal, Louisa Rossel, Marala Baijal, and Vanessa Woods embarked on a mission to move from the “digital hype” generated with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor to create a digital network dedicated to educating people in parishes about racial justice and advocacy. The Alliance’s mission is to educate others with the goal of increasing empathy by raising awareness and creating opportunities for members to get involved in dismantling white supremacy. The Alliance was designed to serve as a resource for education and networking — through mediums of prayer, protest, donations, and support of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned businesses. Today, the monthly Alliance newsletter offers one educational resource, action, donation recipient, and prayer for its readers. Topics for focus have ranged from police brutality, COVID-19 resource disparities, and mass incarceration to sex trafficking, LGBTQ+ rights, and others. With a growing online presence and membership, the Alliance has partnered with St. Mark’s, Storrs and will reach UCONN students to build partnerships and seek assistance in building out the network’s presence. Establishing a team of coordinators and interns who will assist in the buildout, the grant will help provide resourcing for the college students’ time and participation. Financing four fellowships through St. Mark’s and UCONN, the Alliance will focus on specific areas to move the Alliance from education to action, including the specific areas of Local Outreach, Global Outreach, Podcast Production, and Environmental Justice. Building itself into the structure of two parishes in opposite Regions (Southwest and Northeast), the Alliance hopes to use these as templates for raising awareness through education and additionally to deepen community building and action through a vital expanding network of Episcopal parishes across ECCT.