By Joe Thoma
Many bishops urge frugality for the Episcopal Church, but they concurred with the House of Deputies July 7 in establishing a “Mission Enterprise Fund” for underrepresented populations at the diocesan level.
The fund envisioned by Resolution A073 would distribute $1 million over the next triennium, in individual $20,000 grants to help dioceses establish “mission enterprise zones” for evangelism that engages “under-represented groups, including young people, people of color, poor and working-class people, people with a high-school diploma or less, and/or people with little or no church background or involvement.”
“I thought this sounds perfect for our diocese,” said Bishop Brewer, Central Florida, “especially in working to elevate Spanish-speaking congregations.”
Working on the Evangelism Committee, Bishop Brewer helped shepherd the resolution through committee and said to the House of Bishops on July 7 that he is “very supportive” of its passage.
The mission enterprise zone plan could help Central Florida reach out to Spanish-speaking populations, “especially to undocumented immigrants who sometimes are afraid to leave their immediate neighborhoods,” he said. “This would enable us to take church to them.”
The Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton, Bishop of Maryland, also serves on the Evangelism Committee, and urged his fellow bishops to consider the $1 million a wise investment.
“The beauty of this [expenditure] is that these $20,000 grants are locally based, and can go a long way to getting additional seed money,” Bishop Sutton said. “The money will go to put people on the street in secure buildings.”
The language of the resolution says, “By creating these stations for mission enterprise, and then studying them, we will know what structures to create to recognize and encourage the growth of new and redeveloped faith communities.”
In addition to the Mission Enterprise Fund, the dioceses will have access to resources available locally and from the Episcopal Church Center, to include but not be limited to research and demographic information, resources for evangelism, church planting and redevelopment, anti-racism, and ministry in different cultural contexts, the resolution says.
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