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Mission Real Estate

On Saturday, March 11, over 40 representatives from 11 congregations from across the diocese gathered at the Episcopal Church Center in Ocean Beach to learn about mission real estate. As folks found their way into the meeting, picked up handouts, poured coffee and murmured amongst themselves, some stood back and were quietly surprised to see 25% of the diocese represented for a conversation about church property and God’s mission.  

This day was the culmination of months of study, learning, and effort. Just over two years ago, Bishop Susan Brown Snook called together an Affordable Housing Task Force to look at how congregations could use their under-utilized property to address the housing crisis felt across our region. The group has expanded to become the Mission Real Estate Task Force, focusing on the church’s mission and creative use of property.

At its core, the Diocese is not addressing housing alone but the future mission of the Church. Our neighborhoods have changed, as have our congregations. With this comes a critical consideration as to how churches might utilize their real estate in ways that simultaneously seek the goodwill of the neighborhood while providing financial stability to the congregation. 

In collaboration with Trinity Wall Street, the Task Force established a process for developing real estate for missional purposes that begins with dreaming about what is possible. The Task Force presented this process last year at Diocesan Convention and has now met with eight congregations to consider the process. 

Bishop Susan Brown Snook said, “I am very proud of the congregations that attended the first Mission Real Estate gathering. I encourage all our congregations to explore new ways to use their church properties for sharing the goodness of Christ with our neighborhoods.”

The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego is helping congregations find a potential win-win; love our neighbors and, when possible, generate revenue for congregations to live out their mission. At the heart of this effort is a desire to see congregations utilizing their real estate to announce God’s good news through works of mercy, justice, and evangelism.  

We are called to share the good news of God’s love through our words, our actions, and by leveraging our resources—no matter how meager or grand—for God’s good news. When it comes to the physical assets of a congregation, this can be done in as many ways as there are congregations.

The Rev. Canon Jeff Martinhauk, Chief Financial Officer for the Diocese, said, “You’d be surprised at the creative ways a congregation can utilize its property to fill a need in the community, generate revenue, and remain focused on the mission of our church. The Mission Real Estate Task Force is here to help your congregation uncover its creative vision and bring it to life.” 

When a congregation is ready to start discerning the missional possibilities with their real estate, hold a congregational meeting to gather the church’s history, interests, and passions related to the property. Ensure that everyone feels like they have been heard and are a part of the process. Share the entire process with the congregation at this meeting–establishing expectations and ensuring a shared understanding of what lies ahead.  

If this is not something your congregation feels it can do on its own, the Mission Real Estate Task Force members are ready to come and assist in facilitating such a meeting. 

In this next phase, using demographic studies, information interviews, and having an active presence in the neighborhood, the congregation begins to familiarize itself with the concerns and hopes for the surrounding community. 

The Diocese provides various resources to assist you at this stage, including the training and coaching of our Community Engagement Missioner. They can help you map out the area around your church’s campus. The higher the population density, the smaller this area will be. In urban areas, it might be only a few blocks. In suburban areas, it may be 3 to 5 miles depending on density. The diocese provides a tool called MissionInsite–free to each congregation–that can assist you with this.  

After determining the area you intend to engage, schedule walks—or drives—throughout your community. Go out in pairs, pray for your community silently or aloud and collect as much information you can on social and physical landscape that surrounds your congregation.  

As you go about your community, speak with as many individuals as you can—being curious about what your community members celebrate and are concerned about. You may also want to invite community members and stakeholders to your campus. Provide a tour of your facilities and ask how they think your facilities might best serve the community.  

The outcome of this stage of the process will be that the congregation will have a list of both congregational and community priorities. 

As simple as these first two stages are, they are often the most difficult to initiate. We’re doing our best to walk alongside you through each of these stages, recognizing that they will provide you with the momentum necessary to head into the next phase of deciding what to focus on.  

Your congregation has gifts to offer, but it also has needs. It may have physical space but needs financial resources to maintain it. Join us in exploring the creative ways that we can be the people of God and secure the financial means to maintain our church buildings. 

If you are interested in learning more about mission real estate, click here.  


Category: #Advocacy, #Evangelism, #Outreach, #Service

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3 replies to “Mission Real Estate

  1. Christopher Davidson, Co-Chair, Sustainability, St. Margaret’s - Palm Desert | on March 22, 2023

    Thank you to the staff and volunteers of EDSD. It was an inspiring day. There’s a long journey forward, but I came away feeling supported and connected.

  2. MICHEL MASON | on March 22, 2023

    I would like to be invited to any up coming events within the EDSD concerning Advocacy, Evangelism, Outreach, and Service
    Regards MK Mason

  3. Robert Halleck | on March 22, 2023

    Want to get on the list for updates. This should fit in well with Renewal Works which at St. Peter’s we are working hard to implement the suggestions.

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