Earlier this month Episcopal Community Ministries (ECM) awarded more than $70,000 in grants to congregations across the Diocese of Southern Ohio. The grants, which are funded by donations and by an annual draw from the Blanchard Memorial Endowment Fund established by the trustees of the diocese, support twenty ministries that provide food, emergency assistance, medical care, education, training and more in communities across southern Ohio.
“For me, when so much is uncertain in our world and the church, it’s really good to know that our diocese has support for all the vital ministries that are going on,” the Rev. Allison English, rector of Calvary, Clifton and ECM Committee member, says. “No matter what happens individually or to the church, we have each other’s back and we want these important ministries to continue.”
English appreciates the way ECM grants provide support for the outreach ministries of smaller congregations. “Some of our smallest churches are doing some of the most work at some of the highest levels,” she says. “And they’re able to do incredibly robust ministry when they’re working with shoestring budgets for their operating. So, when you give to ECM, you know you’re supporting the most vital part of a parish’s ministry that’s doing the work of Jesus Christ in the world.”
The Rev. Joanna Leiserson says her work on the ECM Committee has taught her a great deal about the on-the-ground outreach work of small congregations. “What I learned is that some of these churches could very well say ‘we just want to take care of ourselves,’ but instead they are applying for grants,” she says. “They may not have much money, but they have the will and a commitment to Christ’s gospel to say, ‘we really need to be doing this outreach.’”
This year, grant-supported ministries are responding to increased need across the region. “The need is really high because there are more people out of jobs and needing help financially,” Leiserson says. “Food pantries, for example, are one of those things where the need never goes away, but the need is higher now. Community meals have been really important both in terms of the meals themselves and in terms of getting community together after such a long time not being able to do so safely.”
Leiserson notes that the will to serve vulnerable community members is an important sign of congregational vitality. “The only way for churches to really survive is not to look inward but to look outward — to help others,” she says. “These churches working on mission instead of folding in on themselves are not only surviving, they’re thriving.”
2022 ECM Grants
All Saints, New Albany: Garden of All Saints
Last year, the Garden of All Saints donated 2,650 lbs. of produce to local pantries—a threefold increase over the prior year). This year, they hope to increase donations to 3,000 pounds.
Christ Church, Dayton: City Heart
City Heart serves the transient and homeless population of downtown Dayton, responding to immediate and emergency needs, and connecting people with community resources for long-term solutions.
Christ Church, Springfield: Springfield Peace Camp
Peace Camp is a one-week conflict management camp in June. The program teaches coping skills and helps students how to use them to manage the impact of trauma and resolve conflict.
Christ Church, Springfield: Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School
The Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom School is a six-week summer reading program for at-risk elementary-school and middle-school-aged students.
Epiphany, Nelsonville: Feeding Ministry
Epiphany provides a nutritious monthly dinner for any member of the community. Guests include homeless residents, those living below the poverty level, and senior citizens unable to prepared nutritious meals for themselves.
Good Samaritan, Amelia: Food Pantry
The program serves community members who need help with food and community resources.
Grace Church, Cincinnati: Food Ministry
Grace hosts a weekly feeding ministry that aims to help the participants find enough to eat in a very difficult social and financial climate.
Grace Church, Cincinnati: Summer Camp
Summer Camp Reading is a six-week program that serves local elementary students who need help with reading.
Holy Trinity, Oxford: Community Dinner
Holy Trinity hosts a monthly dinner that serves those who are food insecure. In addition to a nutritious meal, the program also provides products not covered by SNAP benefits, including hygiene and home cleaning items.
Our Saviour, Cincinnati: Food Ministry
This ministry provides carryout meals, healthy groceries, hygiene items, and cleaning products in an atmosphere of welcome. 35% of guests are immigrants, many of whom are not eligible for food stamps.
Our Saviour, Cincinnati: Transformations CDC
The program serves adults and children who have immigrated to the U.S., as well as U.S.-born children of immigrants. Most of the adults are undocumented; some are awaiting their asylum hearings.
St. John’s, Columbus: Nourishing Earth, Body & Soul
The ministry addresses food and spiritual needs with meals and street church and connects people with resources for psychological and financial needs, addiction assistance, affordable housing, etc.
St. Patrick’s, Dublin: CATCH Freedom
The program provides ongoing support to victim/survivors of sex trafficking by partnering with the CATCH Court program and Freedom a la Cart. They provide about trafficking in the area and resources needed to address the problem.
St. Paul’s, Logan: Feeding & Clothing
St. Paul’s provides a free monthly meal with as many take-home meals as guests choose to take. For many, this is their only meal of the day.
St. Peter’s, Gallipolis: Loaves & Fishes
Loaves & Fishes is a monthly community meal that is a collaborative effort of four denominations as well as other volunteers in the community. The program also supplies nonperishable items and offers delivery.
St. Simon of Cyrene, Lincoln Heights: Summer Camp
SCR is a 6-week day camp for third and fourth graders from low-resource neighborhoods. Campers improve reading comprehension and fluency.
St. Stephen’s, Columbus: Neighborhood Services, Inc.
Neighborhood Services, Inc. provides food and material assistance to persons in need in the Columbus Community. Among their many programs, they partner with Mid-Ohio Foodbank, local grocers and organizations to stock their pantry, and offer a 5-day supply of food on each visit.
Trinity, Columbus: In the Garden
In the Garden serves homeless, underhoused, and food insecure people in the downtown community. The program provides food and supplies, and partners with the Franklin County Department of Health to provide vaccines.
Trinity, Columbus: State IDs for Homeless and Returning Citizens
The program assists homeless people and people recently released from prison who need a state-issued ID.
Trinity, Troy: Torrence Medical Funding
The ministry provides short-term financial assistance for those with unmanageable medical financial needs. The Torrence Medical Fund does not take the place of health insurance, but can allow clients to receive proper diagnoses and prescriptions, or pay for COBRA insurance payments, or initial consultations.