Winter 2012

Transfiguring Jubilee as we return to our local roots

By The Rev. Chris Johnson

The future Church is today!

While the invitation to embrace the Spirit of Jubilee has been extended since at least the days of the writing of the Book of Leviticus (see chapter 25), each generation must decide for itself if they will accept that spirit. Jesus accepted it when he claimed the words of the Prophet Isaiah as his own: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me... (Luke 4:16-21).

Likewise, the Episcopal Church claimed these words in 1982 when it declared Jubilee Ministry "a joint discipleship in Christ with poor and oppressed people wherever they are located, to meet basic human need and to build a just society” is at the heart of the mission of the Church.

While the criteria for becoming a Jubilee Ministry were established by the Executive Council in 1983, it was always intended that the local diocesan bishop would be the one to designate a ministry as a Jubilee Ministry. To make that possible, provision has been made since 1985 for each bishop to appoint a Diocesan Jubilee Officer to assist in the process of identifying local ministries worthy of the Jubilee Ministry designation.

Unfortunately, our denominational structure has led us to sometimes place too much emphasis on the institutionalization of Jubilee Ministry, and to create a top-down management structure far removed from Jubilee’s organic roots. Just as the disciples appealed to Jesus to let them build booths on the Mount of Transfiguration after seeing him with Moses and Elijah, so we have become enamored of building structures where none are needed, and that which was intended to affirm healthy local ministries became a mere cog in the spokes of an institution.

Read more ... 

Save the date: Jubilee Officers to gather in Georgia for three-day training event Nov. 14-17


Our 2012 DJO Training Event will be Nov. 14-17 in Atlanta.

Each time we meet we have an opportunity to expand our own awareness of how the geography and history of our communities shape our ministry. Building on work we have begun in Cedar Rapids, Newark and Lexington, this training event will introduce us to the communities and history of Koinonia Farm and Habitat for Humanity.

Koinonia Farm is a Christian farm community founded in 1942 in Americus, GA, which is the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity, as well as several other ongoing ministries. It is also still a working pecan and peanut farm, it still welcomes visitors, and it still strives to be the “demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God.”

Read more about the DJO gathering, including how to participate for just $100, including travel, meals and accommodations. 


Julian Pantry provides bags of food to the hungry in San Francisco's Mission District

Over the past three and one-half years, thousands of low-income shoppers in San Francisco’s Mission District have been nourished by the work of the Julian Pantry.

The food bank is primarily a ministry of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, located at 15th Street and Julian Avenue, and Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, six blocks away. But it is also supported by volunteers from the Community of St. Francis, St. Gregory’s, St. Aiden’s and El Buen Samaritano.

Since it opened at St. John’s on June 14, 2008, the Julian Pantry has distributed a full bag of groceries – largely fresh produce, supplemented by dry beans, rice, bread, pasta and canned goods – to between 200 and 300 customers every Saturday morning.

Read more about Julian Pantry and other Jubilee Ministry food pantries that received Health and Nutrition grants this year.  


Pennsylvania afterschool program nurtures youngsters with homemade, family-style meals

The 25 children who come to the Eagle’s Nest After School program at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lancaster, PA, don’t often get to sit down to a hot, healthy, homemade meal, served family style.

So when they come to the church after school, one day a week, volunteers make a point of stressing that. A meal – prepared by the children and eaten together – is the highlight of their weekly gathering.

“We do a full and complete dinner each session,” said Sue Martin, coordinator of the program, which recently received a $750 Jubilee Ministry Health and Nutrition grant to help purchase food for the children. “The tables are beautifully set every week by the kids. The conversation is always very calm, supporting and interesting. This is a model for meals that they don’t have any experience with at all. Unfortunately, their home settings don’t allow for that. It’s always processed foods eaten on the fly, or not at all. But we really stress nutrition, fruit and vegetables at every meal.”

Read more about Eagle's Nest and other Jubilee Ministries using their Health and Nutrition grants to focus on feeding hungry children. 


Community gardens thriving as parishes commit to turning vacant land into ministry of produce

Both food and faith are growing at Episcopal parishes around the country who have launched community garden projects.

Brigit’s Bounty, a ministry of St. Brigit Episcopal Church, Frederick, CO, began Brigit’s Bounty in 2009, in recognition of significant food needs in the area. Brigit’s Bounty is an organic giving garden, where all the produce from the garden is given away to the local food bank, families that have been adopted by the garden, the senior center, local low-income medical centers and other groups of individuals in need. In addition, the garden provided more than 500 students with hands-on learning opportunities last year. The Jubilee Ministry grant will be used to help hire a Summer Garden coordinator.

Read more about how Jubilee Ministry gardens at churches across the country are helping to supply fresh produce to needy neighbors. 


Sack lunches help Houston's homeless avoid having to decide between food and shelter

Too often, the homeless people served through Community of the Streets Outreach at Lord of the Streets Episcopal Church in Houston had to make a painful choice: As the afternoon grew late, would they seek food or would they seek shelter for the night?

Sometimes, the options were mutually exclusive. If they are going to a shelter for the night, they usually need to get there by 4 pm.

“And we would see people saying they didn’t want to go to a shelter, and please, couldn’t they just have some food to tide them over for the night,” said Thelisa Palmer, executive director of Community of the Streets Outreach. “We saw that consistently.”

In 2005, Community of the Streets conducted a needs assessment and determined that between 3 and 5 pm, there were little to no resources available for the homeless and disadvantaged to get food before securing shelter for the night.

A year later, the ministry launched its sack lunch program. Volunteers put together nutritious sack lunches and made them available to all who need them.

Read more about Lord of the Streets and other Jubilee Ministries who will use their Health and Nutrition grants to fund sack meal programs.


Agape Café: Breakfast - and all you want of it - served with a heaping helping of dignity

One morning a week, the homeless and the hungry in Iowa City, IA, can at least count on having a good breakfast – just about anything they want, and all they want of it – ordered off a menu, and delivered to them by a waiter.

“Here, no one stands in line to get their food,” says the Rev. Raisin Horn, Episcopal chaplain at the University of Iowa and one of the leaders of Agape Café, a Jubilee Ministry that’s the primary outreach of the campus chaplaincy.

The Café is now in its 19th year. Every Wednesday, a dozen volunteers gather bright and early at Old Brick Church, a historic landmark that now houses the Episcopal Chaplaincy as well as other non-profit groups. The space is transformed into a dining room with about a dozen round tables. The tables are set with table cloths and flowers. A coffee bar is set up and stocked with pastries. Music is playing. Newspapers are set out for guests to read.

Read more about Agape Cafe and other Jubilee Ministries who will use their Health and Nutrition grants to fund feeding programs.


Raising awareness: Magdalene Hospitality House eases the burden for those visiting prisoners

In 2001, members at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Cumberland, MD, received information about some of the visitors to the federal prison at Cumberland. Several of our parishioners are police officers, and they reported to us about women and children sleeping in their cars because they could not afford meals and a hotel room on the weekends they visited.

Parishioners decided to do something about this potentially dangerous situation. We located a property and we went to the vestry with our idea. The vestry approved the purchase of a house for the ministry and we opened the house for visitors in December of 2004.

That was how Magdalene Hospitality House came to exist. The house provides a safe haven for people visiting prisoners, and allows the prisoners to keep closer ties with wives, girlfriends, children, family and friends.

Read more about this Jubilee Ministry dedicated to serving an often-forgotten population. 


Rooted in worship: Priest ordained among congregation of homeless worshippers

It was a clear, bright, and cold full moon on the evening of December 9, 2011, when Patricia Sexton was ordained to the priesthood at a park, outside in Longmont, CO, but to understand the significance of this we must turn the clock back six months to Saturday, June 4, 2011.

It was on this date that Patricia Sexton was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Boulder.

Prior to her ordination, Patricia had visited Common Cathedral in Longmont, and after her ordination as a deacon, in discussion with the Rev. Marc Genty, she began serving her diaconate there.

During the months of her diaconate, Patricia served in a number of capacities from worship leader, teacher, and preacher to pastoral caregiver and counselor, and as the summer wore she became more and more a part of the community. In early autumn, Patricia and Marc approached Bishop Robert O’Neill with the request that Patricia’s ordination to the Sacred Order of Priests take place at Common Cathedral at the end of her Transitional Diaconate period. Bishop O’Neill agreed and the date was set.

Read more about the Rev. Patricia Sexton's outdoor ordination among a congregation of homeless worshippers. 


How-to Files: Bright Zone program models bonding through reading to pre-schoolers

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Frisco, TX, began “Bright Reader Summer Fun Group” in 2009 as an extension of its school-year mentoring program at Bright Elementary School. The program was designated as a Jubilee Ministry in 2011.

This last summer, the five-week-long camp served more than 150 children (an average of 30 per day). Encouraging a love of reading is the primary goal. Children are engaged in reading-related games and arts/crafts activities, and are encouraged to take home books each day.

Read more about how one Jubilee Ministry in Texas is getting parents of pre-schoolers to commit to reading to their children.


Advocacy: Tennessee ministry has gone from soup kitchen to offering a full array of services for the homeless

The Chattanooga Community Kitchen logo states ”Help from the Heart of the City” and means it.

Founded in 1982 by seven downtown Chattanooga churches (Christ Episcopal, First Baptist, First Centenary United Methodist, First Christian, St. Paul’s Episcopal, St. Peter and Paul Catholic, and Second Presbyterian), the Kitchen has grown from a “soup” kitchen to many, many more services to the homeless community. While many of the churches were offering meals, and assisting with clothing, the times, places and amounts were irregular and loosely organized. These churches teamed together in the creation of a meal-a-day program, originally housed in the basement of Christ Episcopal Church.

This was the start. Today, the Kitchen covers a full city block with basement storage. Two of the original churches, St. Paul’s Episcopal and Second Presbyterian, host night shelters for men and women who are in the Kitchen’s programs. While housed in the churches, the Kitchen operates them with staff and volunteers.

Read more about the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. 


Save the date

2012 ECSA Roundtable

St. Mark's Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN

April 18-20

"Building Sustainable Relationships" 

21st Annual Gamaliel National Clergy/Team Training: The Fire of Faith: Rekindling my Congregation

University of St. Mary of the Lake Conference Center, Mundelein, IL

April 23-27

Note: The Social and Economic Justice Office will assist with travel expenses if needed. Contact the Rev. Chris Johnson if interested. 

Diocesan Jubilee Officer training event

Atlanta, GA

Nov. 14-17

More details coming soon!

National Episcopal Health Ministries 2012 conference

DeKoven Center

Racine, WI

May 10-12

Global Episcopal Mission Conference

Incarnation Conference Center

Ivoryton, CT

May 3-5

"Mission? Whose mission? Responding to our baptismal covenant"

Colorado's Jubilee Ministries get chance to show off their work to Presiding Bishop

About 60 representatives of Jubilee Ministries across Colorado got the chance to meet Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and tell her in person about the work they do, during a reception for her at the St. Francis Center in Denver on Nov. 5.


Bishop Katharine also toured the St. Francis Center, the diocesan-sponsored day shelter for the homeless, a Jubilee Ministry founded 28 years ago, and visited an apartment at the adjacent Cornerstone, the two-year-old 50-unit residence that provides housing and case management for the formerly homeless. The following day, she and Colorado Bishop Rob O’Neill drove to Leadville to visit St. George’s Episcopal Church, another Jubilee ministry that runs a four-time-a-week feeding program in Colorado’s high country.


Read more about Bishop Katharine's time spent with Colorado's Jubilee Ministries.


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