Mission-Shaped Work & Regional Grants

By Ann Fleming

Have you wanted to launch or expand a ministry or outreach in your congregation but not had the funds? Because of faithful pledges from parishes to their regions, financial support might be available to you and your congregation.

Since 2012 the five Regional Executive Committees of The Episcopal Church in Colorado have developed a common grant application. Each region assesses grant applications according to the Four Areas of Strategic Focus established by the Office of the Bishop.

  • Living missionally at a grassroots level
  • Establishing radical generosity as a core pattern of life
  • Engaging substantively with the suffering of the world
  • Committing fully to evangelizing with young adults

Grants range in size, and their impacts are reported at regional convocations, testimony that allows other congregations to learn from these mission-shaped ministries and adapt these ideas to their neighborhoods.

In the Southwest Region, more and more people are struggling with hunger. So St. Barnabas in Cortez applied for a grant to support its ministry, called Grace’s Kitchen, in its mission to help feed the growing numbers of people who are hungry in Montezuma County.

Hunger is also affecting families in the Sangre de Cristo Region. St. Luke’s in Westcliffe was awarded a grant to support a ministry to provide nutritious snacks for more than 30 children on free or reduced-price lunches. In that school district, students attend school only four days a week, leaving them without sufficient food over a three-day weekend. This program not only feeds students who would otherwise go hungry, but it also helps the congregation engage with children outside of their adult-dominated congregation.

Also in the Sangre de Cristo Region, St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church in Security used Asset-Based Community Development tools to discern a need in the community for low-cost childcare. With generous help from the Colorado Episcopal Foundation, church leaders have established St. Raphael’s Place. Working countless hours, The Reverend Chris Johnson and his wife, Debbie, have converted a nearby property into a childcare facility that is nearly ready to open. Regional grant monies will help them to purchase playground equipment. They are currently seeking sponsors for scholarship monies as they seek to balance the need to pay their daycare staff a living wage while offering affordable childcare to families in need. This ministry meets three areas of strategic focus: living missionally at a grassroots Level, engaging substantively with the suffering of the world, and establishing radical generosity as a core pattern of life. The ministry expands St. Raphael’s existing outreach in its food pantry, thrift store, and pastoral care, by providing parents with care for their preschool children.

In the Front Range Region, Brigit’s Village is a Diocesan Institution sponsored by St. Brigit’s Episcopal Church in Frederick. It received a grant to support environmental and engineering studies for a 50-unit senior housing development on church property. Brigit’s Village seeks to fill the need in the community for diverse, low-cost senior housing. The project will be used as a model for other congregations interested in undertaking similar developments.

Broomfield Children’s Chorus (BCC), an outreach ministry of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in the Front Range Region, received a grant to support their work to provide music instruction and performance opportunities for all children in Broomfield and surrounding communities. Formed in 2015, the BCC serves children in grades 2–9 that want and need these opportunities and would not otherwise have access to them due to school budget cuts or the family’s inability to afford music instruction.

In the Northwest Region, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Leadville, received a regional grant to support the parish’s continuing outreach through its community meals ministry, offered six days a week. The parish thoroughly embraces its Community Meal mission statement:

“The Community Meals are an outreach of St. George Episcopal Church in Leadville. We provide appetizing, nutritious meals in a welcoming, safe, and open environment, where connections are forged and our community enriched. We provide these services to the people of Leadville, especially those whose emotional and financial needs are the greatest.”

In 2015 this ministry prepared 12,000 meals for the community in addition to serving more than 150 families through the church food pantry. These remarkable numbers reflect St. George’s deep commitment to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.”

Hunger relief is a concern elsewhere in the Northwest Region. At St. Peter’s in the Valley, Basalt, the parish discovered that most hunger-relief services in the Roaring Fork Valley were located in Glenwood Springs. The Reverend Will Fisher received a grant after the parish hit on a food truck for the mid-valley as a solution to a complicated problem. With a food truck they could work around the difficult work schedules of the working poor and the impaired mobility of others struggling with hunger — both groups unable to access services in Glenwood Springs. The parish purchased a suitable vehicle and is working to establish a Spanish-language program to meet the needs of the most underserved mid-valley populations. Again, the Northwest Region is honored to join the parish as they embrace Bishop O’Neill’s call to extend hospitality and radical generosity.

Congregations have so many ways to engage in mission-shaped work — work that matches our spiritual and other gifts to the needs in our communities. Your ministry, no matter how small, may be eligible for regional support. The regional executive committees will continue to look for grant applications that connect to the four areas of strategic focus. These connections deepen our relationships to those outside our walls and to each other, through proclamation, servanthood, and discipleship.

To learn more about the Diocesan Regions and the grants process, please visit EpiscopalColorado.org/Regions.