If we are indeed the body of Christ, then putting our hands to God’s service must be a part of what we’re called to do. One of the groups in the diocese that takes this mandate seriously and joyfully is the Diocesan Service Coalition.
The Service Coalition is a consortium of outreach/service coordinators and participants from churches and organizations throughout the diocese. We meet quarterly at Service Summits to share ideas, brainstorm solutions to common problems, plan projects and to develop and nurture relationships among congregations.
The coalition first met in May 2011. We currently have 34 churches and groups represented. We’d like to grow that number to include at least one representative from every congregation in the diocese.
Our meetings are held at different churches throughout the diocese. In January we met at St. John’s, Fallbrook; our April meeting was at St. David’s, Clairemont. In July we travel to St. John’s, Chula Vista and in October we head to St. Peter’s, Del Mar.
Each quarter we sponsor a collaborative project in which all of the churches in the diocese are invited to participate. Our January 2013 project involved sending volunteers to work with other communities of faith in the fifth annual MLK Jr. Day of Service in Balboa Park. Over 75 Episcopalians from all over the county joined the cleanup! Our diaper drive in January 2012 collected over 17,000 diapers for Episcopal Community Services from 12 different churches. If a single church participated in these events, we’d have sent 6-8 volunteers to the cleanup and collected about 1,400 diapers. But how much more powerful are we at doing God’s work in the world when we join forces?!
Our Summer 2013 collaborative project is the Back 2 School Bash. We’ll be looking for churches to help with collecting backpacks and school supplies for two diocesan distribution points: St. Mark’s, City Heights and St. Thomas, Temecula. Our central San Diego event at St. Mark’s will serve low-income families in City Heights and children participating in the Episcopal Refugee Network’s tutoring programs. Churches in the northern part of the diocese can send their collected school supplies to St. Thomas for distribution to residents of Rancho Damacitas, a community group home for abused children in Temecula. Detailed supplies lists and the July/August timeline are available at edsd.org/dsc.
Our summits are an electric, invigorating experience. Listening to the projects happening at churches, witnessing the spirit of collaboration and support for one another and the work that we’re doing, and sharing in the joy of each church’s commitment to serving as the hands of God in our communities is both humbling and inspiring.
The goals for our group are lofty. We’d love to have members from every church and organization in the diocese be a part of our coalition. We want to maintain the individual identities of our parishes and to encourage the projects that our parishioners love and support, but also to stretch our hearts and hands to a few diocesanwide collaborative projects to make a greater impact in our communities. We want to serve as a source of support and guidance for parishes that are just beginning an outreach ministry of their own, and a forum for sharing ideas and best practices and brainstorming solutions to obstacles in our paths. Our biggest challenge is geographic — how do we successfully include our brothers and sisters in the regions outside the central San Diego area in our meetings and projects?
If you’d like to be a part of this vital group, we welcome you! Contact me, Sarah Shealy Stump, to see if your church or group is currently represented in the Service Coalition. Together we can truly be a diocese of service and mission, a powerful representation of Christ’s heart and hands in a weary world. Join us! +