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Diocesan Convention, Nov. 4-5, 2011, was the official public launch of  Together Now, the diocese’s $20-million fundraising campaign for an array of initiatives intended to build up congregational life and mission through collaboration and by expanding the reach of already successful diocesan programs. 

“You know, these aren’t new programs.  These are all things that we know, because we’ve workedKatie ErnstThe Rev. Zenetta Armstrong receives an ovation after rallying congregations to collaborate with the campaign.Katie ErnstThe Rev. Zenetta Armstrong receives an ovation after rallying congregations to collaborate with the campaign. with them for years now in some cases, increase the vitality and viability of our parishes, and that provide not only healing but growth,” Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE told Convention before announcing that nearly $8 million had been raised prior to the public launch, including a $1 million gift from Episcopal City Mission. 

“Every single parish in our diocese can take advantage of this campaign,” he said.

The campaign will fund initiatives in five areas:  $2 million as a tithe for global mission work; $2 million for environmental stewardship through “green” grants and loans; $4.5 million to create regional “mission hubs” and a mission institute (the latter a collaboration between Episcopal City Mission and Episcopal Divinity School); $7.5 million for ongoing and expanded ministry programs with children, youth and young adults; and $4 million for renovations to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston to make it more accessible, more energy efficient and better configured to both host and model innovative worship, ministry and public witness. 

Additionally, the campaign includes an opportunity for congregations to run their own fundraising campaigns alongside the diocesan one, with professional counsel provided.  Participating congregations keep 70 percent of what they raise in their respective collaborative campaigns and give 30 percent to the diocesan campaign.

Eight congregations are running these collaborative campaigns in a pilot phase and to date hadKatie ErnstBishop Gayle E. Harris helps launch the campaign with the message "It is time to get busy."Katie ErnstBishop Gayle E. Harris helps launch the campaign with the message "It is time to get busy." raised a combined $2 million—nearly half of their goal, Bishop Gayle E. Harris announced at the convention. 

Participating pilot congregations are the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mattapan, the Church of the Holy Spirit in Wayland, St. Andrew’s Church in Methuen, St. Thomas’s Church in Taunton, the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, Grace Church in Vineyard Haven, Christ Church in Waltham and the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.

These congregations “represent the rich diversity of this diocese,” Harris said.  “If they can do it, you and your congregation can do it,” she said.  She urged the clergy and delegates to pray for the campaign and to consider how their congregations will participate, either through collaborative campaigns or with tithes from campaigns they may be conducting independently.  Other ways to participate in the near future, she said, will include parish pledging and focused in-pew collection campaigns.

“So, my brothers and sisters, it’s time to go forth as a convention and as a church, as the body of Christ, back into our communities,” Harris said.  “It is time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.  It is time to get busy.” 

Over the course of the two days, convention-goers heard about each of the campaign’s initiatives through personal stories shared by people whose lives and congregations have been changed by ministries connected to the campaign.  (Watch videos of their campaign presentations here.) 

Elisabeth Keller of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul and the diocesan Jubilee Ministry talked ofKatie ErnstElisabeth Keller tells about her experience of blessing through global mission.Katie ErnstElisabeth Keller tells about her experience of blessing through global mission. mission work in Kenya and Uganda, of the blessing of being welcomed as a stranger, of the widespread suffering from poverty and the AIDS epidemic and of how the diocese has been a presence in East Africa through seven years’ of mission work there. 

“We have experienced blessing through these partnerships.  We have learned many good lessons and we have been changed,” Keller said.  “We have made friends across the globe who consider us to be friends for life.  They are counting on us to continue stepping across those boundaries, stretching beyond what seems possible and trusting that Jesus is right there welcoming us on the other side.”

A $2 million tithe from the campaign will support mission service and projects outside of the diocese:  $1.5 million in matching funds that congregations can use for mission trips and projects and $500,000 in grants to current international diocesan partnerships, including $250,000 already allocated to the Bishop Masereka Christian Foundation to help build a new hospital in Kasese, Uganda.

Another $2 million from the campaign is designated for “green” grants and loans to help congregations achieve energy efficiencies and cost savings while reducing the carbon footprint of their church buildings.  The diocese in 2010 launched a Green Grants Initiative through which about 30 congregations received grants and environmental stewardship training.  Together Now campaign funds will build on the initial success of that program.

Faith Salter from St. Andrew’s Church in Ayer told about how energy conservation truly became church work at her small parish, in part because of diocesan green grants.  “With the Green Grants Initiative we haven’t had to do it by ourselves,” she said. 

The campaign allocates $4.5 million to equip congregations for strategic local mission:  $1 million for the mission institute joint endeavor with Episcopal City Mission and Episcopal Divinity School, and $3.5 million to establish as  many as six “mission hubs” over the next five years—regional partnerships among congregations that incorporate proven diocesan leadership training and outreach programs, including the Leadership Development Initiative, the B-SAFE summer program for city children and the Life Together young adult internship program—for more effective ministry in local contexts.

Katie ErnstThe Rev. Kate Cress shares her excitement about the campaign's first mission hub on the South Coast.Katie ErnstThe Rev. Kate Cress shares her excitement about the campaign's first mission hub on the South Coast.South Coast parishes are forming the first mission hub around the Church of the Holy Spirit in Fall River, and the Rev. Kate Cress of the Church of Our Saviour in Somerset described how the reach of individual congregations’ child care, food pantry and homelessness outreach projects might be extended by working together.

“A mission hub means going deep, person to person and congregation to congregation and connecting with social agencies across the region to nurture mission,” Cress said.  “I believe the Spirit is leading us to take risks to build partnerships that are new and good.”

The campaign also devotes $7.5 million for diocesan ministry with children, youth and young adults:  $5.5 million to expand the Life Together young adult internship program and campus ministries, including international mission trips for college students, and $2 million to endow and expand programming at the diocese’s Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in Greenfield, N.H.

Natalie Finstad spoke of living, working and praying with other young adults during her year as a Life Together intern and of how the leadership and community organizing training that interns receive prepares them to make a difference in the world.  Her Life Together experience led her to Kenya, where she has started an organization called Be the Change to address local poverty.  A children’s health clinic was one of its first-year results.  

“Whether we’re talking homelessness in Boston or hunger in Nairobi, the world is hurting and the hope of Life Together is that it not only addresses the needs that we can see but it takes young adults and transforms them into powerful agents that can take that healing out into our world,” Finstad said.

Katie ErnstClergy and delegates discuss Together Now campaign initiatives.Katie ErnstClergy and delegates discuss Together Now campaign initiatives.“From our plan to tithe for mission, to the healing work of this place, our cathedral, to the collaborative campaigns that have the opportunity to raise millions of dollars for mission and ministry in congregations across this diocese, that call to heal has been taken seriously in this campaign as it was planned,” diocesan missioner for Christian education, formation and discipleship Amy Cook told the convention.  She helped emcee the campaign presentations with the Rev. Noah Evans, Rector of Grace Church in Medford.

“We’re taking seriously God’s call to innovate for the sake of the Gospel and that’s what this campaign is all about—taking our successes and making them accessible to many more of our parishes, because every one of our parishes has something to give and something to receive,” Evans said.

--Tracy J. Sukraw

Clergy and delegates received take-home materials to help them share the campaign with their congregations, including a DVD of the campaign video.  Questions about the campaign and how to participate are welcome.  Contact Lynd Matt, Director of Development, at 617-482-4826, ext. 515 or lmatt [at] diomass [dot] org.