Bethel AME Church Lynn
Find Your Purpose, Fund Your Breakthrough
Bethel members will go through a phased process of “finding their purpose” - discerning their calling – and “funding their breakthrough” – giving micro grants to individuals that help them overcome a barrier to living out their calling and pursuing their purpose. The congregation will engage this process primarily through small groups, called Purpose Groups, with an average of 6-10 people. In Year 1, Bethel’s annual theme will be “The Year of Purpose,” with corresponding sermon series. We will identify a small group of "Purpose Leaders," design our call discernment and breakthrough process, and pilot the process with one or two groups. At the end of the first round of purpose group meetings, we will give micro-grants of up to $1,500 that could support a wide range of meaningful investments, including start-up funds for a business or ministry venture, graduate school test prep class/materials or personal development classes. Grant recipients will form Breakthrough Groups where they will support one another in living out their purpose. In Year 2, we will evaluate and modify our process based on the experience of people in Year 1 and launch another cycle of Purpose and Breakthrough Groups. We will continue to evaluate, modify and launch additional groups in Year 3 with the ultimate goal to strengthen Bethel as a community of purpose – one that supports people, not only in their quest to find purpose, but in their ability live a life of purpose.
CRECHE (The Charles River Episcopal Co-Housing Endeavor)
Engaging Our Households
Creche creates and supports intentional communities: faith-rooted, mixed income, and intergenerational households living together under common rhythms of life and discipleship. Our households exist not only to benefit those who live within them, but also to have an outward-facing, missional impact on their surrounding neighborhoods.
Our core question is, “Where do the gifts of our household meet the needs of the neighborhood?” We have launched a one-year organizing campaign, led by a Life Together Fellow, to encourage, equip, and build the capacity needed to go out into our neighborhoods, to meet our neighbors, to learn about the spaces of brokenness in our contexts, to join already existing practices of restoration, and to help inspire still other such efforts. (Life Together is the Boston-branch of the Episcopal Service Corps, a volunteer service year program that grounds young adults in the methodologies of faith-based organizing and places them within local organizations.)
Together with our household residents, our Fellow will build relationships with key stakeholders and facilitate group discernment around questions of vocation, with the goal of equipping our households to engage in mission work that is impactful yet sustainable beyond the scope of this year. By the end of three years, we envision each household engaging in vibrant, sustainable work in dynamic partnership with their wider neighborhood community.
Fourth Presbyterian Church, South Boston
First Church in Cambridge
Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
The First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain
The First Congregational Church of Randolph, UCC
Becoming a Trauma-Informed Church
Fourth Presbyterian Church has a long history of seeking to nourish each other in our discipleship and to live into our calling as a church of mission in the neighborhood. The latest focus of ministry for the Fourth Church community is post-traumatic healing. We are increasingly aware of the breadth of trauma exposure among the families in our neighborhood, particularly the 4,000 residents in nearby housing projects, and of the number of our own congregants who feel called to be engaged in this work of healing because trauma/significant loss is an important part of their own life stories. The seed of this ministry has been planted through trainings, a powerful leadership team retreat, and the initiation of a monthly “Peace By Piece” program with dinner, time for sharing and the presence of a licensed clinical social worker. Our participation in Creative Callings will allow us to deepen our commitment to this ministry through:
· A fall retreat that will include training new leaders, sustaining and equipping current leaders, sharing our stories, and discerning the next steps of our ministry
· Developing a second “Peace by Piece” monthly gathering for post-traumatic healing that draws on the complementary gifts of our leadership in music and art
· Using trauma-informed methodologies to re-shape and inform long-standing ministries like The Summer Meals Program and our youth group gatherings.
· Hosting a second retreat/training to develop a new youth ministry team.
The Public Remembrance Project: A Pilot Project for Wider Learning and Growth
In 2018, First Church voted to “explore a project of public remembrance related to our history of complicity with Northern slavery.” This vote led to the Public Remembrance Project and discussions of linking remembrance with reparations. The history of First Church is also the history of Cambridge, and so we are seeking to deepen this reflection not only with our congregation but within Cambridge more broadly. The Public Remembrance Project proposes to engage persons in the congregation of First Church and partners in the wider Cambridge community, across racial and economic lines, in conversations that we hope will involve our community in discussion of two linked outcomes:
· an act of public remembrance that reflects the historical legacy of slavery at First Church and Cambridge, and
· a model for repair and reparations acceptable to all the partners in this effort that represents a first small step in “repairing the breach” that white supremacy has inflicted on our community.
To this end, our Creative Callings grant will support a Theologian-in-Residence and/or a Project Spiritual Director who will help us frame and ground this ongoing work in the deep spiritual and theological resources our tradition offers and a Technological/Communications Consultant who can help us share our findings more broadly and initiate small groups online for shared accountability and spiritual practices, as well as materials that will help us launch this work.
Becoming a Community of Calling
Harvard-Epworth serves many university students, young adults, young professionals, and entrepreneurial thinkers. Through the years, these individuals viewed their experiences at Harvard-Epworth as an important formational time of discernment, as they reflected on purpose and calling. We now envision taking the intentional steps to systematize our process, transform Harvard-Epworth’s established culture of call into a deeper mission to discern, affirm, and answer calls, and build a ministry model that can sustain this mission for years to come. We will take a 5-pronged approach to realizing these paradigm shifts. The first is change management, where we will host activities related to helping the current congregation perceive of Harvard-Epworth as a community of call, including communications and workshops. The second is through programming related to shaping individuals around their call and mentoring. Here we will host a series events including a vocational reflection series, a skill-building series, and a “Callings” sermon series. We will also utilize several platforms to build up connection between those who are affiliated with Harvard-Epworth, connecting affiliates with each other. A major component of our project will be to redesign our Harvard-Epworth website and the Entrepreneur League Website to share our work with the broader community, inviting them into a conversation about their call. Finally, we will launch an alumni giving campaign encourage support for these projects from our network that can create a sustainable future for the Harvard-Epworth network.
Pulse and Beats
We will launch and co-create a Steel Pan-centered music program for young children in our neighborhood. We will use music as a means of deepening our engagement with our Pan-Caribbean identity and expanding our ministries of hospitality, evangelism, community empowerment. Our current Steel Pan ensemble group – the “Beat” is comprised of players between 12 and 70 years old whose pan music enriches our worship, and who also share pan music and culture throughout the state and beyond through their performances. The “Pulse” component of this ministry speaks to our process and organizational structure, which will include:
- A co-op model of leadership involving parents, church members, and neighbors sharing responsibility for caring for the space and pans, providing snacks, organizing events and administering the program.
- Relationship-building activities for community members
- Bi-monthly concerts and occasional expos, with help and participation from the adult-band and congregation, that include community charlas or chats on critical topics and the further integration of other partners.
Through this effort, we will find and connect with the heartbeat of our community through relationship, co-creation and conversation with local families. We will discern alongside our neighborhood where and how we are called to be a blessing.
Deepening Relationships and Growing Capacities for Community and Congregational Care
We propose a deliberate and coordinated effort to deepen relationships and build capacities to support and live out our foundational values of justice, love, and connection. This work will be rooted in the principles and practices of restorative justice, and our programs will primarily be structured in the innovative yet ancient Circle model. Our belief is that if members of the FBCJP community explore and engage each other to illuminate needs, resources, offerings, and causes of harm, as well as our capacities for resilience, then relationships will deepen, healing will take place, critical and transformative dialogue and experiences will be shared, and communal mobilization will generate to carry our church’s mission into the future and sustain this work for years to come. This effort aims to cultivate capacity for self-care and resiliency among the community. Program Circles, which always seek to center values of love and justice, include but are not limited to exploring harm reduction (including Narcan/Naloxone training), homelessness and forced displacement, bystander intervention, caring for one another in the midst of mental health and illness, Know Your Rights/bystander intervention training, learning about permaculture principles and planting a community pollinator or container garden, white fragility, or systems thinking. In addition to these programs we will hold regular Congregational Care Coordination gatherings to establish solid systems and foundation among lay and community leadership, host quarterly relationship-building programs for staff, and offer modest financial support to six organizational efforts in the community that are relevant to our calling to promote inclusion, integration, and care.
The Arts as Spiritual Practice
Our calling is to our members and to our community to lift up the Arts as spiritual practice and to celebrate deepening our faith in God through the aesthetic practices. The Arts have an important place in our congregation and in the relationship we have established with our community through hosting programs such as the Summer Youth Theater. Since our church has already established Music, Art, and Drama programs, we propose connected initiatives to enhance these ministries. Our project supports:
· An Artist in Residence who will produce liturgical Art pieces for worship and lead intergenerational art workshops for church and community members
· A Lecture Series on the topic of Sacred Music that will heighten our connection to our church music and make deeper meaning for the music we provide during our worship service.
· A Concert Series established through collaboration with the Town of Randolph, who has recently completed a study citing a desire to support music and the creative arts in Crawford Square
· Support for technology and marketing materials to share the work with the wider community