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Vermont Diocese Awards $29,300 in First Quarter Grants

The Grants and Loans Committee of the Episcopal Church in Vermont recently named six new recipients of grants totaling $29,300. The grants will help fund projects in environmental sustainability, food security, social justice, racial healing, and spiritual outreach with a focus on Vermont communities. The Grants and Loans Committee selects new recipients several times a year and awarded more than $100,000 to help fund worthy causes last year. The grant recipients for the first quarter of 2019 are as follows:

Trinity Episcopal Church, Shelburne: $10,000

Crossroads. As with many communities of faith, Trinity Shelburne faces some important choices in the months ahead about the direction of ministry in the upcoming years. Various issues—such as budget constraints, older buildings needing major repairs, and a community wishing to broaden its outreach and mission—bring important questions and considerations to the parish membership. The grant funds will be used to hire the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF), an organization that helps Episcopal faith communities develop strategy, leadership, and financial resources for long-term, sustainable ministry. ECF will help the parish of Trinity develop a mission statement, and clarify and balance congregational priorities, in addition to helping us discern future funding goals. In summary, ECF will facilitate this vital discussion and seek the best solutions for long term sustainability.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Bennington: $7,200

In May 2018, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church announced its intention to bring its electrical costs to nearly zero and help minimize the negative environmental footprint of the community by spearheading a community solar project to install a solar array on the roof of its parish hall. Since that time, St. Peter’s has received an outpouring of support from church members, community friends, the Climate Advocates of Bennington, the Second Congregational Church and the neighboring Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bennington. A portion of the array is designated for the use of a community non-profit of good works, where they will be able use discounted green electricity collected from St. Peter’s rooftop array. This is part of a greater mission of blessing and collaboration with other Bennington Churches and organizations in mutual affection and support. A $7,200 grant from The Episcopal Church in Vermont will be added to $28,890 in funds already raised, bringing the project ever closer to its $51,585 goal.

Christ Church, Bethel: $6,000

Inspired by Bishop Ely’s 2014 Lenten invitation to meditate on how the church could use its voice and assets to address a widening economic divide, the people of Christ Church, in partnership with other community organizations, established a Community Meal. Twice a year, the Community Meal brings people together for a free and festive celebration of common life while also playing a part in strengthening the local food economy by purchasing raw ingredients for the meals from local farmers. To date, the Community Meal has provided more than 1,300 locally-sourced meals at no charge to guests, while raising over $15,000 in freewill donations for the Bethel Food Shelf. A portion of the $6,000 grant from The Episcopal Church in Vermont will be used to purchase food from local farmers for two upcoming Community Meals. The remainder of the grant will be used to purchase food from local farmers for the Community Meal’s Community Cooking Project, which involves local school staff and youth in preparing locally-sourced food, some of which is consumed at school, and some of which is used to stock the Bethel Food Shelf freezers.

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Norwich: $2,500

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church is one of 15 faith communities that make up the United Valley Interfaith Project (UVIP). UVIP seeks to “brings good news to the poor” and strengthen the communities it represents by building social and cultural ties between low- and middle-income people; between immigrants and those born in the United States; and between seniors and younger families. A significant portion of UVIP’s work focuses on social justice. To help fund UVIP’s social justice work, The Episcopal Church in Vermont has presented St. Barnabas with a $2,500 grant earmarked for the UVIP’s Immigrant Justice, Economic Justice, and Aging with Dignity initiatives. The Rev. Jennie Anderson said, “St. Barnabas has experienced, through working with UVIP, just how essential the hard work of creating a more just world through our faith and our faith communities is. I am very grateful for the efforts of UVIP.”

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, White River Junction: $2,400

Inspired by a commitment to racial healing— a commitment shared by the wider Episcopal Church and expressed by many in the Upper Valley—a group from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church known as Caring About Racial Justice (CARJ) has spent the past four years leading book clubs and film screenings aimed at increasing cultural competence. In response to growing public interest and participation, The Episcopal Church in Vermont has award St. Paul’s with a $2,400 grant to fund two premiere events at the Kilton Library on April 6 and May 4. The first session will explore the experiences of People of Color in the Upper Valley and abroad, deepening participants’ understanding of implicit racial bias. The second session will focus more intently on the state of the Upper Valley and the nation, engaging participants in action planning for racial healing.

Convivia/StJ, St. Johnsbury: $1,200

The Rev. Susan Ohlidal is familiar to many in the St. Johnsbury community from her involvement in Pub Theology at The Kingdom Taproom, “Ashes to Go” at the start of Lent, and various pastoral and liturgical activities. Collectively, the Rev. Ohlidal’s ministries all take place outside of a typical church setting and are recognized as a start-up within The Episcopal Church in Vermont. The Rev. Ann Hockridge is equally familiar to many in St. Johnsbury from her ministry as a local church pastor and her work as the Interfaith Chaplain at Caledonia Home Health and Hospice. Working collaboratively, the two priests now co-pastor and co-host Convivia/StJ, which includes Pub Theology and Eventide, a monthly contemplative service. A $1,200 grant will enable Convivia/StJ to add a Holy Communion in public spaces to its list of community offerings. Convivia/StJ seeks to offer a shared table at which all are welcome—in local pubs, cafés, and art spaces.

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