The Rev. Peggy Bryan (left), Stepping Stones clergy leader, helps celebrate a graduation from the city team’s one year recovery program.
$25K UTO Grant awarded to Stepping Stones reentry ministry
Six years ago, Saint Andrew’s Saratoga started a jail ministry that expanded to 20 percent of the parish volunteering to lead worship services every Sunday afternoon at Elmwood Correctional Facility in Santa Clara County, the state’s sixth largest jail. Weekly pastoral counseling was provided and the nation’s first jail-based Education for Ministry program was born. It’s now the Stepping Stones Gathering, a reentry ministry for those formerly incarcerated, and this week the Diocese of El Camino Real was awarded a $25,000 United Thank Offering grant to fund the pioneering ministry.
The focus of this year’s UTO granting process was “Recovering with Love and Gratitude: An Episcopal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Local Contexts.” UTO grants support innovative mission and ministry in the Episcopal Church through the gratitude and generosity of those who contribute through Blue Box donations.
“Choosing which grant applications to fund and not fund is always difficult, but during this extraordinary time of suffering in the global Covid-19 pandemic we had to prioritize mere survival over thriving,” shared Sherri Dietrich, UTO Board President.
Thriving and transformation are key elements of Stepping Stones. In October 2018, the ministry focus was expanded to include men in reentry. A satellite worship service was launched in downtown San Jose in partnership with Grace Baptist Church. Thirteen people attended the first service in a small conference room. At the one year anniversary, the gathering had doubled to 30.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, jail entry is not permitted so now incarcerated peer leaders facilitate the weekly services based on materials mailed to key contacts, according to the Rev. Peggy Bryan, St. Andrew’s pastoral associate for outreach and Stepping Stones leader. She provides pastoral care while parishioner Katy Dickinson, Education for Ministry coordinator for the diocese, facilitates classes. In-person worship has shifted to live online services, sparking yet another increase in attendance, from 30 to 50. Bryan adds that phone calls from men in jail and state prisons can be patched into Zoom, allowing them to participate in worship.
“We connect with men upon release from custody and provide whatever support measures, within our means, needed to successfully stabilize—from food to clothes, cell phones to cars,” Bryan says. “For the men who stick with us, the recidivism rate is less than 15 percent compared to the county rate of 45 percent and the state’s 70 percent. The relationships of reciprocal love, compassion, understanding, and hospitality strengthens the spiritual DNA of every person involved.”
“Stepping Stones is a model program,” explains Bishop Lucinda Ashby, “a series of ‘steps’ in community, both pastoral and practical—for inmates, their families, parolees, addicts, and homeless. These are all aspects of an emerging community that exists out of sight and mind of those who are normally found inside the church buildings, but a community, nevertheless, that is striving and faithful to the needs of the underserved.”
“With our ongoing Episcopal presence,” she adds, “Stepping Stones people experience the church at its best: engaging in Matthew 25 behavior and modeling the way of love.”
The Stepping Stones gathering was featured Tuesday in Episcopal News Service, which traces the lives of men transformed by the Saint Andrew’s ministry. Read the ENS story here.
Mario, serving a life sentence, keeps in close contact with Stepping Stones leaders. He leads worship in Spanish at his prison and was part of an Arts in Prison program learning the violin.
How the grant will be used
Bryan explains that $5,000 of the UTO grant will be used for reentry supplies while $20,000 will be used for the lead clergy’s salary in order to:
• Leverage work with faith, nonprofit and legal organizations;
• Provide reentry case management for incarcerated men and their families with the goal of establishing a connection within 24 hours of release;
• Match reentry members with parish mentors;
• Assemble & organize delivery of survival kits to reentry homeless;
• Establish prepaid phone accounts for the incarcerated;
• Provide cell phone & data plan to reentry members as needed;
• Gather & provide clothes and shoes to the jail for those being released;
• Plan and host weekly Zoom worship services.
Registration available for Convention
Registration is now available for the 40th Convention of El Camino Real, in both English and Spanish. A mail-in payment option is also available; all registrations must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Sunday night, November 1. Visit the Diocesan Convention pageto register for the November 7 convention, as well as ongoing updates and resources.
Blessing of the Oils in Salinas
Bishop Lucinda Ashby is pictured leading another "Blessing of the Oils" service with Monterey Deanery clergy at St. Paul's-San Pablo Episcopal Church in Salinas. To watch a video of the full service, click here.Also, a video of the recent service at St. Timothy's in Mountain Viewis available to view here.
Executive Council passes 2021 budget, including relief for struggling dioceses
During the online meeting of the Episcopal Church’sExecutive Council, Oct. 9-12, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on church operations and finances was evident. The council approved The Episcopal Church’s 2021 budget on the final day of the meeting, after a debate over staff cost-of-living adjustments and $1 million in financial relief to dioceses.
The pandemic also has affected planning of the church’s triennial General Convention. The 80th General Convention, which had been scheduled for July 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland, could bemoved online or postponed. Read the complete Episcopal News Service storyhere.
Bishop Lucinda's virtual visitation schedule
October 17: San Pablo Apostol, Seaside October 18:No visitation October 25: St. Francis' Willow Glen (San Jose) October 27: St. Paul's/San Pablo, Salinas November 1: All Saints' Carmel November 8:No visitation due to Convention November 15: St. Peter's, Morro Bay
Memo to Rectors and Wardens: Parish Elections During COVID-19
Diocesan canons require that each parish conduct an annual meeting by February 15 each year. A first session can be held as early as October 15 for parishes which prefer to hold two sessions. It is uncertain whether a parish will be able to hold an in-person meeting of all of its members even by February of 2021. We are therefore writing to suggest that each parish begin planning for the alternative of a digital annual meeting if you have not already done so. Download and read the full memo here from Steve Kottmeier, Diocesan Chancellor, and Nancy Cohen, Vice-Chancellor, regarding elections by Zoom or a similar platform.
'Take Heart': St. Dunstan's parishioner retires from leading KSBW-TV
Congratulations to Joseph W. Heston, who retired last month as President & General Manager of KSBW-TV and CCABC in the Central Coast. Heston, a parishioner at St. Dunstan’s Carmel Valley, signed off last month on a 45-year television career with a farewell message (his 1,086th weekly editorial!).
“Looking at our challenges, our political divisiveness, and the struggle for social justice, it can just look like one big mess,” he said. “Take heart; we need to encourage each other; indeed, the root word there is ‘courage,’ and we surely need that … treat others as you’d like to be treated. If we all did that, even facing our current challenges, with faith or faithlessness, we’d all be far better off.” View his farewell editorial by clicking the image above.
Online talk: Proposition 25 cash bail referendum
Judge L. Michael Clark, Assistant Criminal Division Supervising Judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court will offer a 15-minute online presentation on Proposition 25 at 11:15 am during the St. Andrew’s Virtual Coffee Hour on Sunday, October 18. Prop 25 is a referendum on replacing cash bail with risk assessments. Past Governor Jerry Brown signed SB10 in August of 2018, a law designed to make California the first state to end the use of cash bail for all detained suspects awaiting trials, replacing the bail system with risk assessments to determine whether a detained suspect should be granted pretrial release and under what conditions. A “yes” vote is to uphold SB10, a “no” vote will repeal it.
Judge Clark spoke at St. Andrew’s twice in 2018, mesmerizing standing room audiences with his insights on the criminal justice system. Please circle October 18 on your calendar! Use this Zoom link.
COVID-19 and wildfire relief funds available
The Diocese of El Camino Real has received emergency relief funds from Episcopal Relief & Developmentto support those impacted by the wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. If you know of individuals or families who are in need, please contact your local clergy who will help direct funds. Bishop Lucinda has also established the "Bishop's COVID-19 and Disaster Relief Fund." See past issues for details.
Join Episcopal Church Women the morning of October 24 for a retreat focusing on Ida B. Wells (1862-1931), suffragist and journalist, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020), Supreme Court justice. Click here to download the flyer.
Weekly diocesan conversations about race:The Revs. Karen Cuffie and Jani Wild are leading weekly pastoral conversations on racism every Thursday at 4:30 pm., with discussion and prayers. Learn, process, and share together in a faith community. Join the Zoom Meeting here Meeting ID: 835 7594 8022; Password: 748467
One tap mobile: +16699006833,,83575948022#,,1#,748467# US (San Jose)
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