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The EHF Kitchen Cabinet Helps Congregations Support Community Health

This article was originally published on the Episcopal Health Foundation website. The EHF has formed a “Kitchen Cabinet” to develop programs and resources that help churches support the health of their surrounding communities. The Kitchen Cabinet includes our own Alyssa Stebbing. The full text of the article is below. You can also click here to read it on their site, and find out more about these important initiatives. 

 

EHF’s Congregational Engagement team helps congregations have the greatest impact on their communities’ health. In order to ensure EHF’s support for congregations is strategic and effective, we’ve formed a Kitchen Cabinet group of advisors comprised of Episcopal clergy and lay leaders from diverse congregations across the Diocese of Texas.

The group met for the first time in June 2016 to review EHF’s overall direction of congregational engagement to date and provide high-level thought leadership that would serve as groundwork for future program development. The group affirmed EHF’s plans to develop more intensive resources and support to congregations in programmatic areas including mental health, children and youth, community organizing and civic engagement, and poverty relief.

As a result of the meeting, Kitchen Cabinet members identified several ways they can begin to apply ideas to current and future congregational work, and key roles they can play in support of EHF’s Congregational Engagement work including serving as:

  • Advisors: offering counsel and consultation on the strategic vision for congregational engagement work
  • Ambassadors: tell congregations (their own and others) about the work EHF is doing to build healthy communities and how people can get involved
  • Facilitators for Working Groups: help with EHF working groups focused on poverty, civic engagement, racial reconciliation and mental health

The group also named a number of challenges inherent in engaging churches on the work of building healthy communities.  These include how to ensure that churches’ community engagement work consistently incorporates a focus on advancing community health, creating dialogue and action that advances racial reconciliation, building capacity for transformational work (and not just charity), and preparing churches to appropriately advocate for their communities of concern and contribute to policies that advance community health.

The Kitchen Cabinet reconvened in January 2017 to provide additional guidance on the ways congregations can participate in EHF’s community health mission and address some of the challenges named in the first meeting. Members formed working groups to develop more-focused recommendations in the areas of Community Organizing/Civic Engagement, Mental/Behavioral Health, Poverty & Food Security, and Racial Reconciliation.

Participants said that the current divisive political climate made community engagement even more challenging. They looked for ways churches could serve as a place of convening and healing for bridging those divides.

EHF’s Kitchen Cabinet will continue to serve an important role in shaping our work with congregations moving forward. We encourage you to reach out to the Kitchen Cabinet members in your area for more information about EHF and the many ways in which you and your congregation can partner with us.

Kitchen Cabinet Participants:

The Rev. Carissa Baldwin-McGinnis  
St. Andrew’s, Houston

The Rev. Jack Chase 
All Saints’, Crockett

The Rev. Ashley Cook
Lufkin, TX

Deacon Mary Lenn Dixon  
Bryan-College Station

Ryan Hawthorne
St. Stephen’s, Houston

The Rev. Jim Liberatore 
St. Andrew’s, Pearland

The Rev. Pedro Lopez 
San Pedro, Pasadena

Scott Madison
St. James’, Austin

Jill McFarland 
Good Shepherd, Austin

The Rev. Alejandro Montes   
Retired – San Mateo, Houston

Ayesha Mutope Johnson    
St. James’, Houston/UBE

Canon Kai Ryan 
Episcopal Diocese of Texas

The Rev. Ted Smith
St. Stephen’s, Liberty

Alyssa Stebbing 
Trinity, The Woodlands

Dr. Paul Wick  
Christ Church, Tyler