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St. Athanasius’ Church ministers to the Echo Park community surrounding St. Paul’s Commons. Episcopal News file photo

The Diocese of Los Angeles will receive a grant in the Spring 2021 cycle of funding from United Thank Offering, to be used for “Healing from Loss,” a project of St. Athanasius Church in Echo Park.

The focus of the granting process this year was ‘Recovering with Love and Gratitude: An Episcopal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Local Contexts.’

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many losses in the Echo Park community – of life, of income, of employment, of community, and of companionship. Among those affected are members of the St. Athanasius congregation and people in the neighborhood, which surrounds St. Paul’s Commons, the administrative hub of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

In particular, elderly, low-income Spanish-speaking members lack internet and digital devices, contributing to a traumatic disconnection with church, according to the Rev. Frank Alton, St. Paul’s Center provost and rector of St. Athanasius’ Church. The grant will allow the church to respond pastorally to those losses.

The COVID program in Echo Park was one of many applicants for the grant. “Choosing which grant applications to fund and not fund is always difficult,” says Sherri Dietrich, UTO board president, “but during this extraordinary time of suffering in the global COVID-19 pandemic we had to prioritize mere survival over thriving.

“As always, if we’d had more money to grant, we would have been delighted to fund more the excellent grant projects submitted, so please continue to be thankful and make your thank offerings to UTO.”

St. Athanasius will use the grant to respond to its neighborhood’s losses “with new ways for people to connect to each other, process their experiences of loss, and find new meaning and hope,” said Alton. “They will deepen the church’s ability to be church, rediscovering its core message of dealing with death, caring in new ways for people experiencing loss, and increasing our broader witness.”

The Healing from Loss Project supports church and community members in dealing with their COVID-related losses by:

  • lending internet-capable devices to digitally deprived members (primarily Spanish-speaking) to enable their participation in online worship;
  • offering and marketing online pastoral support to members and the broader community through virtual and hybrid workshops, prayer groups, and discussion groups.

Contributions to the United Thank Offering are collecting in the organization’s “blue box” mite boxes. File photo

United Thank Offering

The United Thank Offering (UTO) is a ministry of The Episcopal Church for the mission of the whole church. Through UTO, individuals are invited to embrace and deepen a personal daily spiritual discipline of gratitude. UTO encourages people to notice the good things that happen each day, give thanks to God for those blessings and make an offering for each blessing using a UTO Blue Box. UTO is entrusted to receive the offerings, and to distribute the 100% of what is collected to support innovative mission and ministry throughout The Episcopal Church and Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

All contributions given to the United Thank Offering are given away the following year to support innovative mission and ministry in the Episcopal Church. Through the gratitude and generosity of those who contributed through Blue Box donations, UTO awarded more than $400,000 in grants during this second round of grants to address the pandemic.

For more information about UTO, click here or contact the Rev. Canon Heather Melton, UTO staff officer, at 917.771.3366 or hmelton@episcopalchurch.org