St. John’s Church, San Bernardino, and The Abundant Table Farm, a project of the Episcopal campus ministry at California State University Channel Islands, were two of 34 churches and organizations around the Episcopal Church that will receive funding through the Church Planting and Mission Enterprise Zones Grants, as approved by Executive Council at its October 2016 meeting.
The grant of $100,000 to St. John’s was part of a total of $1,797,000 given for church planting and grants for already-established ministries that are exploring possibilities for new initiatives or expansion.
According to the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, pastor on behalf of the bishop at St. John’s, the congregation is planning to launch “Hope Sandwich Co.” (HSC), a food truck ministry that will sell sandwich meals in high-traffic areas to professional people who have short lunch breaks. For every lunch sold, HSC will give away a sandwich to someone who otherwise would go hungry. In addition, $2 from every meal will help support other ministries of St. John’s, including a homework center, a safe space, and a food pantry.
“In the end, if we sell 200 meals a day, five days a week, our little church can provide more than 50,000 meals to the hungry and $100,000 for the work of the church,” Lebrija told The Episcopal News. “Not bad for a church whose average Sunday attendance last year was 15!”
The Abundant Table, according to its website (theabundanttable.org), is “a grassroots, nonprofit organization that seeks to change lives and systems by creating sustainable relationships to the land and local community.” It operates a five-acre farm in Santa Paula that supports its farm-to-school, agricultural and nutrition education, youth development and faith-rooted initiatives. The $35,000 Mission Enterprise Zone renewal grant will help it continue its programs.
The 34 church programs initiatives approved include 12 new church plants, seven new Mission Enterprise Zones, five discernment grants, seven renewal grants for church plants originally funded in the 2013-15 triennium, and three renewal grants for Mission Enterprise Zones originally funded in the 2013-15 triennium.
The new church plants include nine Latino churches, two focused on young adults, one on the homeless population, and several focused on other ethnic ministry groups. Mission Enterprise Zones grants focus on populations that are under-represented in the Episcopal Church. A complete list of grants awarded is here.