We, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, are a diverse community of the Body of Jesus Christ.
Our diocesan mission strategy includes a commitment to "investing in ministries with communities of color and immigrant communities, drawing upon their unique strengths and supporting their health."
In response, the diocesan staff position of canon for immigration and multicultural ministries was created, and the Rev. Canon Dr. Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa serves in this role to help implement the mission strategy commitment. Read more in this February 2020 Q&A: Investing in immigrant and multicultural communities.
A variety of activities that are being initiated or intensified toward reimagining congregations and ministries and building relationships will be highlighted on this page.
Are there individuals or groups in your congregation or community who would benefit from connection with these ministry efforts?
Questions, suggestions and participation are welcome! Contact: The Rev. Canon Dr. Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-482-4826, ext. 400.
Watch the video presentation at the
2020 Diocesan Convention here.
On Jan. 5, 2021, the Ministry of Immigration Partnership convened through the Office of the Canon for Immigration and Multicultural Ministries hosted a virtual, multicultural Epiphany-Three Kings celebration. Enjoy the Zoom recording, below, of the celebration.
Historically Black Churches
There are seven historically Black churches in the Diocese of Massachusetts (listed here alphabetically by location):
- Church of St. Augustine and St. Martin in Boston
- St. Bartholomew's Church in Cambridge
- St. Mark's Church in Dorchester
- St. Mary's Church in Dorchester
- Church of the Holy Spirit in Mattapan
- St. Cyprian's Church in Roxbury
- St. John St. James Church in Roxbury
These congregations are seeking to work collaboratively and develop the capacity to flourish through a discernment process of deep listening and study of shared histories, mutual goals and collaborations. They convene regularly for Black Church Summit meetings.
A resolution adopted by the 2020 Diocesan Convention--"A Call to Address the Neglect of the Seven Historically Black Churches of the Diocese and to Strengthen Their Interrelationships"--is an important action. Find the text of the resolution here.
The Diocese of Massachusetts currently has six Latino/Hispanic ministries in the following congregations (listed here alphabetically by location):
- St. Luke’s-San Lucas in Chelsea
- St. Mary’s Church in Dorchester
- Iglesia San Juan in Hyde Park
- Grace Church in Lawrence
- St. Anne’s Church in Lowell
- St. Peter’s-San Pedro in Salem
These ministries receive diocesan grants enabling them to invest in cultural music and to serve people who were otherwise underserved. The Hispanic Ministries Committee comprises ordained Latinos and Latinas of our diocese and other clerics who speak Spanish and are in relationship of some sort with Spanish-speaking communities, and they convene monthly. This committee has recently been undergoing internal discernment, revisiting its beginnings and identity as Latino/Hispanic ministries of our diocese. Find the resulting Hispanic Ministries Committee's 2021 Strategic Plan here.
As our bishops in the Diocese of Massachusetts reaffirmed in their response to the January 2016 Anglican primates’ action, our diocese claims in its fullness our identity as Christians in the Anglican Communion: “Here in the Diocese of Massachusetts we rejoice in that identity, as manifest in mission partnerships and fruitful relationships with our sister and brother Anglicans in El Salvador, Honduras, Tanzania, Jerusalem and elsewhere around the Anglican world.” That partnership manifests itself both here and beyond.
We have been able to connect with other dioceses in the Anglican Communion. We have been in conversation or mission relationships with bishops from Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola and Zambia; some have been able to visit our diocese.
Our diocese currently has six worshiping communities whose members are mostly of African descent and who arrived recently. These worshiping communities (listed alphabetically by location) are:
- Grace Chapel in Brockton
- Grace Church in Everett (South Sudanese)
- Christ Church in Hyde Park (Nigerians)
- St. Stephen's Church in Lynn (Kenyans)
- Trinity Church in Randolph (Nigerians)
- St. Peter's Church in Waltham (Ugandans)
These worshiping communities receive or are eligible to receive diocesan African Ministry Grants that help them to do their ministries as they express their faith through their cultural heritages and languages. A grants committee of the African Clergy Caucus awards those grants at its usual April meeting.
The African Clergy Caucus came into existence in 2011. It is a voluntary association of African clergy in the diaspora who serve in the Diocese of Massachusetts. The caucus is the venue through which African clergy of this diocese encourage, pray for and celebrate each other's ministries and hold each other accountable to the mission of the diocese. This body views itself as a bridge between the Diocese of Massachusetts and the Episcopal/Anglican church on the continent of Africa. The caucus convenes regularly for meetings, prayer and retreats.
Currently, our diocese has one Asian ministry: the Chinese congregation that worships at our Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. This community continues to create relationship-building opportunities through Christmas concerts and other activities. It is now being served by supply clergy as it is putting together ideas for its way forward. Canon Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa serves as the ministry's primary contact priest, and during the COVID-19 pandemic period, he has been the long-term supply clergy.
Clergy of Color Fellowship and Intercultural Education
Efforts to bring together ordained indigenous people and people of color for fellowship, exchange of ideas and intercultural education are underway. Past examples of note are the dinner held with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry when he visited our diocese in April 2019, and the pilgrimage in October 2019 to the Tracing Center at the Cathedral of St. John in Providence, R.I. This group plans to organize other educational events related to learning about the cultures of our clergy of color, and hopes to be good resource for the diocesan Racial Justice Commission that is newly forming out of work initiated in 2018.
Ministry of Immigration Partnership
At the end of September 2019, the Ministry of Immigration Partnership convened through the diocesan Office of the Canon for Immigration and Multicultural Ministries had its first meeting to brainstorm about advocacy on behalf of immigrants and refugees.
As a result, and inspired by Bishop Alan M. Gates's July 2019 letter calling for action in response to the ongoing national immigration policy crisis, a New England contingent of 19 people from the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine traveled to Washington, D.C., in December 2019 for "Love God, Love Neighbor: Advocacy in Action"--a two-day training and advocacy initiative focused on how to engage with lawmakers about refugee and immigration policy reform.
Staff members from Episcopal Migration Ministries and the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations provided the group with a day of advocacy training to prepare them for meetings with their senators, representatives and congressional staff the following day.
Worthwhile takeaways from the experience, several participants said upon their return, were the opportunity to learn and practice advocacy skills and to build relationships—among Episcopalians in the region, with new partners in churchwide organizations and with lawmakers and their staff. Read more here.
To follow-up and take next steps, the Ministry of Immigration Partnership convened through the diocesan Office of the Canon for Immigration and Multicultural Ministries has hosted:
- regional educational workshops;
- in-person and online celebrations honoring World Refugee Day;
- a learning and listening session via Zoom focused on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA);
- an online introduction to advocacy, offered by the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations, with a follow-up letter-writing workshop aimed at helping advocates introduce themselves to their legislators for future engagement;
- an online “Get Out the Vote” event from a faith perspective; and
- an online gathering with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agent who described an immigrant’s journey through the U.S. citizenship process.
Partners in this ministry invite everyone's participation and suggestions to help increase knowledge about and support for immigrants and refugees in our midst.
Some resources compiled in March 2017 are posted here.
Immigration legal services
Diocesan mission strategy makes a commitment to invest in ministry with immigrants and communities of color. Some members of this population are at different stages in their immigration processes, and for many of them, related legal processes may be unaffordable. To respond to this pressing situation, the Rev. Canon Dr. Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa, Canon for Immigration and Multicultural Ministries, has completed the process for recognition by the U.S. Department of Justice to offer some limited legal services to individuals who meet certain guidelines. He can offer, among other services:
- Initial consultation
- Help to file change of address
- Representation at USCIS interviews
- DACA renewal
- Non-Immigrant Religious Visa (R-1)
- Petition for Religious Worker
- Adjustment of Status
- Extend/Change Status – V Visa
- Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- Application for Naturalization
- Certificate of Citizenship
For more information, contact the Rev. Canon Dr. Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa at email@example.com or 617-482-4826, ext. 400.