An informational Q & A on Episcopal Community Ministries
What is ECM?
Episcopal Community Ministries (ECM) is a diocesan grants committee born in 2020 from the former ECSF, (Episcopal Community Services Foundation) an independent foundation that was dissolved in 2019. ECM raises money through gifts from individual donors, parishes and foundations, and uses those funds to help support local outreach ministries in our congregations by awarding grants.
What’s the difference?
The difference is that without the financial burden of maintaining a separate foundation, 100% of all monies raised are awarded to local ministries to help their neighbors in need. (Please refer to the 2019 ECSF / 2020 ECM comparison chart below to see how funds were allocated as well as the substantial cost savings.)
In 2021 ECM awarded $74,000 annual grants in February, and $4,000 COVID-19 emergency grants in August. We anticipate additional COVID-19 emergency grant requests before the end of the year.
How can ministries apply for a grant?
Application forms for annual grants are posted on the ECM website in mid-September and are due on November 30. After careful review by the ECM Committee, grants are awarded the following February. The COVID-19 emergency grant form can be submitted at any time.
What type of programs does ECM fund?
The ECM committee provides annual grant funding in support of parish-based projects that address:
- Food and Food Security – food pantries; community meals and feeding programs; community gardens
- Housing – emergency shelters; utility, rent or mortgage assistance; and assistance in applying for government programs, such as Section 8 housing and HEAP
- Emergency Assistance – meeting the immediate needs of individuals and families; clothing assistance programs; transportation assistance; disaster relief
- Education and Life Skills – job readiness skills, GED classes, applying for government assistance programs and job placement programs; study skills; health and nutrition; tutoring (especially for children/youth at risk); literacy programs
- Youth at Risk – rehabilitation, mentoring and education
- Social Justice – to affirm the dignity of every person
Parish programs that have active participation of church members and are supported by congregational resources are prioritized over independent community programs. Emphasis is given to ministries that deal with the systemic issues of poverty and injustice by addressing the underlying causes of an individual’s situation.
COVID-19 emergency grants are awarded to programs providing food, housing, or emergency assistance during the pandemic.
Who decides how the ECM grant money is spent?
Each grant awarded is administered by the recipient church. We believe that local congregations are in the best position to assess and respond to their own community’s needs.
Why do these outreach ministries need help from the diocese?
The ministries who apply for ECM grants are adhering to our theological mandate to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8), but need financial assistance to meet spiraling needs in their beleaguered communities. Churches in areas of greatest need too often have the least resources as shrinking congregations heroically practice Faith in Action.
ECM grants are not only a financial lifeline for the people seeking help, but crucial psychological and spiritual support for the church volunteers serving on the front lines in our churches. Contributions from their fellow Episcopalians send a message that they are not alone, and that their work is seen and valued.
Not all churches who apply for ECM grants are in struggling neighborhoods. Some churches are developing ministries in response to a newly recognized issue and need help growing their program. Often these ministries need assistance for only one or two years before their church can fully support the program.
I give to my congregation’s outreach ministries, why should I consider donating to ECM as well?
Giving to ECM is an opportunity to share God’s love by collaborating with fellow Episcopalians throughout Southern Ohio for greater impact. As the chair of the ECM grants committee, the Rev. Dr. Ellen Cook wrote, “What can we do when the needs are so great, and our resources seem so limited by comparison? The answer is that we join hands with fellow Christians to do what we can, and God will join hands with us to make miracles happen.”
We hope that many of our congregations will consider contributing, and that you too will make an individual donation to ECM supporting outreach ministries. Make your gift at ecmsouthernohio.org.
Andrea Owens serves as the ECM Administrator for the diocese. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.