The Diocese of Ohio is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion represented in the United States by The Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church of Ohio ministers in our Church and in our communities in many inspiring ways.
Through funding from the United Thank Offering, the Diocese of Ohio has funded 8 parish-level Young Adult outreach projects:
St. Pauls, Cleveland Heights responded to the isolation of a global pandemic by launching an illumination project on the book of Revelation. Twenty-two young adults each copied a section of the prophetic book and illuminated that section with art, reflection, and comments; then, each passed their work on to the next writer. One young adult hand-bound copies of the book. Then, the church held a “book launch party” at a public outdoor patio.
Christ Church in Kent was invited to participate in the Kent State University welcome fair for students, faculty, staff and families. The rector and a selection of LGBTQIA young adult parishioners offered spiritually-themed conversation, often focusing on pastoral care in response to stories of rejection and mistreatment from other churches. Many were eager to receive our message that God affirms their gender and sexual identities. Each visitor was given a welcome bag that included printed spiritual materials, including visitor information about the church and bookmarks that outline how to practice Benedictine Prayer. Eighty-five bags were handed out, and the Christ Church group reported having many meaningful conversations.
Trinity Cathedral partnered with Cleveland State University’s counseling center for mental health awareness week. In addition to panels and discussions, Trinity Cathedral participated by collaborating on Projecting Hope, a 3D graphic projection that tells a visual story that expresses emotions associated with a person’s move from isolation (anxiety and depression) to community care (hope and calm), using silhouettes, words, light, and color. Students and staff provided input about what CSU students might need to hear or see at this time. The show ran about two minutes so that people driving or walking were able to experience it. The message for CSU students, Trinity members and the Cleveland community is that when we reach out for support and help, we find that we are not alone. An estimated 1,000 people saw the video in person, and more saw it on social media and youtube.
Harcourt Parish, Gambier, sought to empower the individual prayer life of young adults during the time of COVID-19 isolation when singing together in community was dangerous. A young adult led eight other young adults through eight weeks of Gregorian Chant lessons on Zoom (which was a surprisingly effective medium, although it required some experimentation). Each participant became comfortable singing the Daily Office from the BCP and the Psalter of the Order of Julian of Norwich. The series ended with a sung evening prayer service.
LGBTQ dance clubs are a hub of young adult activity. Church of the Ascension in Lakewood sits in proximity of one of the most popular gay clubs near Cleveland. Once it is deemed safe in terms of COVID transmission risk, intergenerational adults Church of the Ascension will organize Friday night visits to the nearby clubs. Recognizing and acknowledging church hurt and harm is vital to this initiative. With the permission of the clubs, literature will be made available about nearby parishes that are welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQ people; the literature will also include information about the Episcopal church as well as contact information for people available for pastoral listening and conversation. The literature will highlight our diocesan tagline, “God Loves You. No Exceptions,” in addition to other messages of support and inclusion. Again, awareness and sensitivity are vital to the success of this project.
St. John’s, Youngstown, is in the midst of developing an intergenerational worship community, and they are ready to open it up to broader participation. Twelve young adults have met for a year as part of an experimental intergenerational worship community that meets on Sunday nights. The worship experiences last year were themed around vocation. The community met in a variety of locations, had speakers, shared meals, and participated in outreach. The original community that has been meeting will continue to discern the content of the worship experiences, and they will also advertise and invite the broader public.
St. Paul’s, Mt. Vernon, has long invited and welcomed students from Mount Vernon Nazarene University to join in the life of the parish. The clergy at St. Paul’s have also been invited to participate in the university’s “Traditional Liturgy” class. The UTO grant will fund a liturgical internship for a student from this class to work alongside the clergy of St. Paul’s in learning about, developing, and leading liturgy. The Episcopal tradition offers a different perspective than that of the Church of the Nazarene; relationship-building between the two traditions is as vital to this initiative as the educational and formation goals.
St. Thomas, Berea, is situated on a main pedestrian thoroughfare at Baldwin Wallace University. After years of sparse outreach or relationship with the campus, St. Thomas leadership is trying to change that by launching a pour-over coffee bar. At established times of the week, clergy and lay leaders will set up a coffee bar on the sidewalk and provide free pour-overs. Pour-over coffee, as opposed to drip coffee, takes 2-3 minutes to filter. During this wait time (just a bit longer than the typical “grab and go”), St. Thomas leaders will engage the students in conversation and relationship-building. When the weather turns cold, the coffee bar will move just a few feet from the sidewalk into an indoor chapel area. The pews have been removed from this chapel, as the goal is to create a safe and comfortable “third space” for students to feel invited and welcomed. The relationships formed through this initiative will inform the next steps of this project.
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