Evangelism grant funds St. Mary's digital campaign

The people of St. Mary’s Church in Dorchester will soon see themselves featured on video via Facebook as part of St. Mary’s “Digital Evangelism Campaign”--a series of five videos highlighting their diversity and their community as well as the different ministries that the church has to offer, from its food pantry to its Hispanic ministry.

The church recently received a $2,000 grant for this project from the Episcopal Evangelism Grants Program, which according to the Episcopal Church’s website, is designed to “…grow Episcopal ministries, resources and gatherings that energize the church to boldly and fearlessly share and celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ” by funding local and regional evangelism efforts.

Reverend Edwin D. Johnson Courtesy Photo Welcome to St. Mary's: Screenshot from Episode 1

Rolyn Freeman, a member of St. Mary’s, has taken part in the filming and said that he thinks he has something to offer the community with his story and his experience, and he hopes that this project helps both the community and the church.

“There’s a lot more to the church than just a Sunday morning service.  We’ve got the food pantry, we’ve got the outreach ministry and all different types of activity at the church.  St. Mary’s is a part of the community,” Freeman said.

In one video Freeman speaks about the Upham’s Corner neighborhood of Dorchester where St. Mary’s is located and in which he has lived for almost 27 years; he talks about the many changes he has seen throughout the neighborhood over the years.  In another video he tells his personal story about how he ended up at St. Mary’s. Freeman said he was drawn to “the welcoming, the enthusiasm of the minister and the music selection--I just never went back to where I was.  I just kept going to St. Mary’s and became a part of it.”

The rector of St. Mary’s, the Rev. Edwin D. Johnson, said that this project is important not only because it is highlighting the church and the neighborhood but also because partnering with a local entrepreneur from the neighborhood to film and create the videos provides another way to give back to the community.

Johnson said there is both an internal and external goal for the project: The internal goal, Johnson said, is for members of the parish to grow through this opportunity to tell their stories. “Our hope is that the storytelling process is something that will, I think, draw us all closer to each other and perhaps draw us deeper into the ways that we have been growing as a community and as individuals...that it will be transformative and that this process will give us a chance to fall in love with each other again,” Johnson said.

The external goal is to spread the word about the community of St. Mary’s. “We really want to get the word out there that we are a community that is open and affirming, that we are a community that is all about justice, that we’re a diverse community, that we worship Jesus in our own kind of crazy way...the more we can get this out there then the more people will understand, ‘Here is an option for where I can worship and feel welcome,’“ Johnson said.

The first three videos in the series are posted on St. Mary's Facebook page:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

--Bridget K. Wood