Much of the press coverage of the Episcopal Church this week focused on the ordination of the suffragan bishops in the Diocese of L.A. over the weekend. But there was still plenty of other good news to report about the local ministry of the Episcopal Church's parishes.
Two of the major stories this week deal with major milestones in urban ministry facilities supported or started by Episcopal congregations.
"[C]lose to 100 people cheered as the HRC opened its permanent facility at 623 Mamaroneck Ave. HRC Executive Director Zoe Colon was joined by several local officials during a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the fact the organization has taken its programs scattered throughout the village and grouped them all under one roof.
'Our mission is to integrate our folks into the larger community and we're providing the tools they'll need to do that,' Colon said. 'We do it in a healthy way because we want to value Spanish and their culture but we also want to educate them about the culture here and how they can contribute economically and socially.'
Aside from the hiring center, the HRC provides a range of services such as English as Second Language classes, computer training, workforce development and legal assistance. The HRC used to run many of its programs in the basement of St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Boston Post Road. Colon said the main advantage for the new location is its proximity to the Hispanic community that lives alongside Mamaroneck Avenue."
In Kansas City MO, the Episcopal Cathedral of Grace and Holy Trinity is home to the announcement of the creation of a new homeless facility that is opening in the Cathedral's neighborhood and which is expected to serve a major role in ministry to the homeless in the region.
In Tempe Arizona, there's an incredible story of how Gil Stafford, now an Episcopal priest serving St. Augustine's Church in Tempe, who used to be a Baptist minister and president of Grand Canyon University (before he converted) was instrumental in keeping a promise to provide a free college education to an entire class of 62 3rd grade children in honor of a woman who had been gunned down in a church shooting in Texas. The woman's name was Sydney Browning. She was the choir director of the congregation that was the site of the shooting in 1999 and a graduate of Grand Canyon.
Stafford decided that:
Grand Canyon University would offer all 62 of the second-graders full scholarships to the school. They would be called "Sydney's kids."
They would have to graduate from high school and qualify for admission. But if they could make it in, they would go for free.
"It seemed so natural, so obvious. This was an opportunity to live out our faith and to honor Sydney," Stafford said. "If you don't honor her, then what are you doing?"
But it would not be easy. Stafford needed buy-in from the school's board of directors and admissions department. Once he had that, Grand Canyon wanted to establish a mentoring and tutoring program for the children. That meant more meetings and searching for funds.
Full story here. They kept the promise even though Gil Stafford is now an Episcopal priest and Grand Canyon University is no longer a Baptist institution - now a private, for profit entity.
In New Haven , members of Trinity Episcopal Church on The Green came out in force to help clean up the common green space in the city. They were joined by people from all over the city and students from Yale.
And finally, in Laguna Beach, speaking of young people and their ministry, the teens of St. Mary's Episcopal Church participated in the 30 hour fast this past weekend. The program was designed by World Vision and is meant to help the kids gain some understanding of the significant challenges that world hunger presents.
“It’s very eye-opening in a lot of ways,” Orduna said. “I think youth and also the adults start to realize is that this is impacting all of us in ways and we can prevent it and how can we focus on those preventions. Through those experiences, we learn to prevent things from happening.”Tomorrow the St. Mary's youth hold a Carnival to raise funds to fight world hunger.
The group also raised money for starving people in Africa through many fundraising events. According to Orduna, the group asked for money for their cause from people on the boardwalk in Laguna Beach.
“One of the things they did is they had a billboard cut-out of Zac Efron and then they had all these statistics about giving to the 30 Hour Famine,” Orduna said. “And they walked the boardwalk of Laguna Beach and requested funds and everything, and I think their highlight was when a gentleman actually prayed for them and said, ‘Can I pray for your group?’ And they were really impressed by that.”