We at St. James’s seek to share the Good News of Jesus and to serve others within our parish, in our local community, and, through our missions program, the larger community and “all nations.” The Mission Fund was established to support dedicated people and organizations who, in the name of Christ, work in such areas as theological education, community development, housing, medical care, hunger issues, etc. The Fund is allocated a fixed percentage of total parish pledge income each year. The Mission Committee has tried to choose ministries that reflect the concerns of all parishioners.
How Missions are Chosen
One of the functions of the St. James’s Missions Committee is to administer the Mission Fund. The Mission Fund is allocated a percentage (5.5%) of the parish’s total overall pledge income, or approximately $12,000-$13,000 per year. Each year the Missions Committee invites the parish to suggest ministries to support over the following funding cycle (missions are generally supported for a 3 year period.)
Each Fall the Mission Committee asks for suggestions from the parish as to ministries to fund the following year. We are looking for missions that:
- have an existing connection with our parishioners
- are smaller ministries where our contribution can make an appreciable difference
- allow us to maintain a balance between ministries with different emphases
- are explicitly Christian (or sometimes inter- faith) in motivation
The Vestry gives final approval to missions selections.
Missions Funded in 2015
Christian Base Communities in East Boston, MA (new): This new initiative of the Lutheran Church seeks to create a network of base communities among the largely Latino, immigrant community of East Boston (and potentially Lynn, MA) that equips individuals to connect their Christian faith with their desire for a more just world and to empower them to transform their communities through love, service, and social change. Each base community will consist of no more than ten adults and their children. The communities will gather at least twice a month for worship, discipleship, and planning for their social justice engagement. There will also be a monthly worship service for all of the base communities to share in the Eucharist and in fellowship with one another. Part of the work of the communities will be to discern a particular justice issue on which they will focus their efforts. In addition to basic discipleship practices such as prayer, hospitality, and reflection on scripture, members will be trained in community organizing skills like one to one conversations and asset mapping in order that they might better engage with their neighbors and the challenges they face in daily life. This effort is being led by Britta Meiers Carlson, a minister of the Lutheran Church, and will potentially be joined by Reed Carlson, our current transitional deacon.
The Crossing is an Episcopal worship and fellowship community meeting at the Cathedral of St. Paul in downtown Boston. A part of a movement sometimes called “Fresh Expressions” or the “Emergent Church” that seeks to experiment with new and old ways of “being church,” it models radical welcome and is dedicated to raising up leaders. The preaching, the prayers, and the planning of the worship are all done by groups of committed lay leaders. The underlying theology is that the wisdom lies not only with ordained leaders, but also with the community itself. The Crossing is itself a mission of the church, but is also committed to doing mission itself. This year its Mission Circle is participating in LDI training and committing itself to the work of the RaiseUp Massachusetts campaign. The Crossing has developed a Rule of Life and also provides opportunities for growth and fellowship through its small group ministries. Several members of St. James’s (ordained and lay) are involved in the Crossing in a variety of roles.
Lay Ministers Education in Lesotho: Through the Diocese of Lesotho, funding would allow for training of Lay Education Ministers in mountain regions. Lesotho had 43 parishes, many with outstations in remote locations, and less than 30 full time priests. Without an adequate number of priests, the Diocese has relied heavily on Lay Ministers to run the church and lead congregations. Although enthusiastic, these Lay Ministers are not trained in theology, the basic work of leading worship on Sundays or preaching. Complete workshops to train 20 lay ministers would cost approximately $690 each, including facilitators, travel, food, and materials. Workshops topics would include:
1. Leading Sunday Worship in the local congregations
2. Bible Appreciation and Interpretation
3. Pastoral Care – visiting the sick, the aged, the bereaved and widows
4. Church Administration – Church & Parish Council Roles
5. General Christian Leadership
A highly successful workshop was held in February 2013 supported by our contribution.
TATUA (formerly Be the Change-Kenya) was started by St. James’s parishioner, Natalie Finstad, who is also an official missionary of the Episcopal Church. TATUA is unique in empowering young Kenyans and supporting local organizations to eradicate child poverty in Nairobi, while also raising up new leaders and strengthening community. Current and past youth-led initiatives have included:
- Running a campaign to mobilize parent involvement in their children’s education
- Launching a mentorship program and food drive at home.
- Partnering with a local counseling center to provide mentors with a free 6-month training program
- Starting an income-generating garden that grows kale and onions.
- Partnering with Equity Bank so that now anyone who volunteers at a BTCKE partner organization is eligible to attend a free financial training course.
- Recruiting college students to provide tutoring for free to children at home during summer break.
Ministries of Aides International, Inc. Haiti: MAII currently assists 7,000 impoverished Haitian children and seeks to expand to help many more in need. They have constructed and operate orphanages, run a vocational school for the teens and adults in the city of Port-Margot, and operate kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. Additionally they provide a wide range of material aid including food, shelter, medicine, clothing, school supplies, uniforms, toys, etc. MAII runs annual health fairs and is in the process of building a modest medical center in Port-Margot and a small pharmacy to help alleviate the burden of health care concerns in these communities. It is currently working on the “Build a School Build a Future” project, planning to build three schools in cities that currently have none. MAII has operated since 1981 and is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit affiliated with Grace Tabernacle Church of God.
Ruth and Jim Padilla DeBorst: The DeBorsts are St. James’s parishioners in Costa Rica. They work primarily with the Institute for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education (IAPCHE) and with Seeds of New Creation in El Salvador. IAPCHE is a learning community of students, professors, and institutions in Latin America that are contextualizing a Kingdom worldview in the area of higher education and in their professions and are intentionally connected to their local churches for the transformation of their societies. Seeds of New Creation seeks to nurture a ministry home, Casa Semillas, as a community of hospitality and mutual learning in service of the Christian community and its mission in El Salvador, establish and strengthen bonds, ministry networks and opportunities of collaboration, and design, promote and carry out the training of transformational leaders whose service responds to a biblical perspective of life and the world.
Outdoor Church: The Outdoor Church/Cambridge is a ministry to homeless men and women in the Harvard and Porter Square areas. The core of the mission is the outdoor prayer service held at 9:00 AM in Porter Square and 1:00 PM on the Cambridge Common every Sunday, regardless of season or weather. Outdoor church volunteers join people who are homeless and housed in ecumenical worship and pastoral care. Following the service, lay and ordained ministers carry sandwiches, pastry, coffee, juice and socks around the squares, where a meal and communion are offered.
Kenya Self-Help Project—Girls Empowerment: This comprehensive girls empowerment and AIDS prevention program is a model for strengthening self-esteem and elevating the social role of women. The program trains teachers and organizes school-based Girls Clubs. During weekly meetings, girls learn decision-making skills and receive accurate reproductive health and AIDS education. To reduce absences, girls receive Dignity Kits containing underwear and locally-made reusable sanitary napkins. The program also supports a training program in sustainable agriculture and builds gender-sensitive latrines for girls at partner schools. The purpose of this program is to raise girls' self-esteem by keeping them in school and giving them the tools for self-empowerment.
Good Samaritan School - Haiti is a co-ed elementary school (up through grade 7) located in Carrefour, Haiti which works to promote, support and provide education facilities and resources for children in the most at-risk areas of Haiti. The school is affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti (the largest Diocese in the Episcopal Church), and we fund it through the Diocese of Haiti Partnership Program. Since 1996 the school has provided an affordable education and a hot meal to disadvantaged children. It currently serves 150-200 students. The School also provides a music program and a visiting nurse who administers immunizations and check-ups. The school was demolished by the 2010 earthquake, and a primary need is to complete the rebuilding project which started in 2011. The school is currently being run under tents and fiber glass modules which were installed in 2010 by Save the Children Inc.
St. James’s Prison Ministry: At St. James’s, the prison ministry group meets monthly, writes to our “adopted” prisoner at MCI Framingham consistently, visits in pairs once a month, and attends trainings. The ministry is associated with the Boston University College Behind Bars, a program for inmates to obtain four-year college degrees. The program is under the auspices of Partakers, an organization committed to advancing restorative justice, rehabilitation, and the transformation of both prisoners and society. Its mission is to reduce recidivism through education and civic engagement. The prisoner with whom the Ministry has worked for several years was released last year and has recently completed parole. The Prison Ministry has continues a supportive relationship with her as well as taken on a new inmate to support.
2014 Missions Committee Annual Report
During 2014, St. James’s parishioners continued involvement in a number of local ministries funded through the Missions Fund. Parishioners continue to make sandwiches for the Outdoor Church each month with Mardi Moran being an important link with that ministry. A number of parishioners are active in the St. James’ Prison Ministry, led by Tom Tufts, which celebrated the release of the parishioner who they have been visiting over the past several years. The Prison Ministry has now taken on visiting a new prisoner through Partakers. Other parishioners, led by Yvette Verdieu, have worked tirelessly with the Ministries of Aides International, greatly improving lives for Haitian children, while Anne Shumway has provided valuable service to immigrants through Refugee Immigration Ministries.
We were pleased to welcome parishioner missionaries, Ruth and Jim Padilla-DeBorst, visiting from Costa Rica (as well as several of their children throughout the year), and also to facilitate parishioner card-writing to the DeBorsts at the fall Ministries Fair. We also note that parishioner Jodi Mikalachki’s ministry, On the Ground in Burundi, has closed down, granting its major remaining capital to Lycée Bududira to build a teaching kitchen to support courses in cooking and nutrition, and to prepare meals for the boarders, who will grow by one class a year. This change is due to Jodi’s move to Kenya for a new assignment with the Mennonite Central Committee. Natalie Finstad, a parishioner who founded Tatua—a leadership development ministry in Kenya, has returned to the U.S. and been accepted into the postulancy process for ordination in the Episcopal Church. We are assured that the transition of leadership at Tatua has been well-planned.
In addition to providing educational opportunities and supporting our missionaries in a variety of ways, the Missions Committee administers the Missions Fund. For over thirty years our parish has supported dedicated people and organizations who, in the name of Christ, work in such areas as theological education, community development, housing, medical care, and church planting. We believe that support for and involvement in missions is our response to God's grace and love for us. God calls us to care for the spiritual, physical, and social needs of others and to join in the restoration of all people to God's self.
The Mission Fund is allocated a percentage (5.5%) of the parish’s total overall pledge income.
In 2014 we funded the following ministries:
- Lay Ministers Education in Lesotho
- The Crossing
- Ruth and Jim Padilla DeBorst, St James's missionaries in Costa Rica
- Refugee Immigration Ministries
- Good Samaritan School in Haiti
- The Outdoor Church
- Kenya Self-Help (Girls empowerment)
- Ministries of Aides International (Haiti)
- St. James's Prison Ministry
- Tatua Kenya (founded by St. James's missionary Natalie Finstad)
You can read much more about the missions we support on the missions page of the parish web page: http://www.stjames-cambridge.org/missions-committee/ . Several of our longer-term missionaries also have their own blogs available from the St. James’s website. As always, we encourage parishioners who want to undertake missions activities to speak with us about support. We also welcome members who would like to serve on the Committee.
Nancy McArdle (chair)