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The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, newly appointed bishop’s officer for development, told a Dec. 6 convention gathering that he hopes Southland Episcopalians will “dream big” by committing to the newly-created “Horizons and Heritage Fund” to support future creative ministries throughout the diocese.

Citing the “Horizons and Heritage” video series chronicling the 150-year history of the Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, he added, “We were built on dreaming big.”

The fund hopes to raise $600,000 and intends to supply seed money for start-up ministry initiatives and serve as a “vehicle to encourage and support missions development. You may think of missions as small but our 42 missions serve 8,300 people. That’s a big church, right there,” he said.

The financial goal amounts to about $150 per person in the diocese or “only one dollar for each year that our church has had a presence here in Southern California,” Lebrija said. “It’s a small price, and a big dream we follow when we do this.”

The fund will also assist development of campus and emerging ministries.

“We are on seven campuses in Southern California and we give access to about 195,000 students to reach an Episcopalian chaplain at a time in their lives when they may be asking big questions and may be unchurched.”

He added,“What would happen if we take our missions and make them sustainable ministries? What if we were to create a backbone organization to share resources?”

Bishop Diocesan Jon Bruno, in his convention address, noted that the diocese already is engaged in many such ministries:

  • growing food in 80 locations with over 100 distribution points (food pantries and/or prepared meals);
  • growing approximately 50 tons of fruits and vegetables (800,000 servings) per year;
  • providing food to approximately 30,000 households per month through food pantries;
  • serving more than 30,000 meals per month to people in need at various meal programs;
  • providing, in the past nine months, nutrition and fitness education to 1,700 people at 130 nutrition/cooking classes and 106 fitness classes;
  • increasing its reach; the Seeds of Hope staff, paid by county and other grants, has grown from one to eight.

Consider the Horizons and Heritage Fund as “our research and development department,”  providing space for figuring out innovative ways to reach the young people of today, Lebrija said.

“It will also support innovation seed funding, to develop visionary ministry projects, that any church within the diocese will be able to apply for seed funding for anything that’s innovative and outside the normal annual budget. It’s an opportunity to say we have a dream and we’d like to follow it. Will you be with us?

“The only caveat of the parish is can we share their results so any other congregation can learn from them.”

Additional information and outreach will be made available in early 2015 and the program is designed to complement, not detract from, existing stewardship campaigns. Resources will be made available online.

“Research shows a fund like this is likely to enhance stewardship campaigns with new and renewed enthusiasm for the church as a result of this campaign and our dreaming big,” he added.

Lebrija asked convention delegates to spend about 20 minutes sharing and recording their big dreams and vital ministries for consideration by the fund organizers.

“What are your big ideas, beyond money, beyond church politics?” he asked. “Who do we want to be as a church in 10 or 20 years, who do we want to be as a diocese?”