Bittersweet is the only term that keeps bubbling up for me as I share the news that by September I will be stepping away from my work leading our Episcopal Youth Community. For almost nine years I have have had the privilege of leading the formation, fellowship and outreach opportunities for our middle and high school students. That is the bitter part, now for the sweet: Last Friday we learned that St. John's and our Wake Forest Community Meals Program were awarded the Mission Endowment Grant for the Diocese of North Carolina. This grant supports ministries that establish "the Episcopal presence of Christ in communities in ways that brings the community to see Christ’s presence among them."
For six years our meal program has done this and has transformed from a 10 week program in the summer to a year round meal distribution program at three locations/ three nights a week connecting a diverse base of volunteers to each other and to community members experiencing food insecurity. This grant affirms what I have known for the past year, that this program requires a focused executive director to transform this expanding ministry into a thriving 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The grant awarded our vision to continue to both feed those experiencing food insecurity AND to connect Wake Forest residents who have been historically divided by race and socioeconomic conditions and move us toward Building Beloved Community. As I work to establish this nonprofit organization we will continue to feed community members nutritious meals, fresh produce and groceries each week as well as plan quarterly gatherings to build relationships and have critical conversations about history, race and justice. I envision this space as the Wake Forest Community Table, a place for connection, education and nourishment.
Reimagining EYC is essential at this juncture of pandemic and regathering in person. Reimagining a new EYC program that will incorporate online formation, with in person fellowship and vise versa will be exciting work for a new staff member and will bring new gifts and ideas to our EYC families. As you will see in this newsletter, we have plenty of ways for your MS and HS students to engage at St. John's this summer, and I will continue to lead EYC though August when a new leader will be hired. Pray for this search process. Moving forward, I will continue leading outreach work at St. John's across all age groups (quarter time) and look forward to working with the EYC on outreach in our community. Please don't hesitate to contact Sarah or I with any questions and to share your visions and hopes for EYC as we hire for and reimagine this program.