Ministries, Networking and the Asset Map

Ministries, Networking and the Asset Map

by Ethan Lowery, Asset Map and US Disaster Intern, Episcopal Relief & Development

What is going on at the church across town? Is your church’s garden being used to grow food for any community outreach efforts? Who else in the country sends their high schoolers to the Standing Rock reservation for service trips? How many other churches with the same name as yours are there in the United States? If you have asked any of these questions or others, I am happy to tell you: there is now an app for that! Or rather a map!

The Episcopal Asset Map is a resource of Episcopal Relief & Development and The Domestic & Foreign Missionary Society of The Episcopal Church (i.e. the folks that work for the national church office). This has been the main project for my internship for the past year, and has included supporting Diocesan Disaster Coordinator Margaret Dunning and Asset Map Coordinator Warren Dunning with their work in The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California.

The Asset Map grew out of the US Disaster Program of Episcopal Relief & Development, as an attempt to index the relevant resources for post-disaster response efforts like food pantries, parking lots, generators, shower facilities, bilingual church staff and the like. A couple of iterations later (and following lots of input from people across the Church), Episcopal Relief & Development broadened the scope of the information gathering and created a searchable and visual database of the ministry programs, human resources and physical assets for every Episcopal church, school and institution across the entire United States (and abroad). This information is submitted by congregations through a simple and easy to complete online survey.

Connecting and Networking

What began as a tool for disaster work is now capable of connecting congregations doing similar work in their communities. This networking fosters the development of new ministries (information sharing), diocesan database management (important), exploration of Episcopal churches in a new city (church shopping), finding Episcopal Service Corps programs or campus ministries for keeping young person engaged in the Church, etc., etc., etc. I could go on for days about the uses of this tool and the uses of the information it can gather. At this moment, there are almost 8000 pins on the Asset map that each represent a ministry, and over 50 dioceses participating. More are being added to that count every day! Isn’t that so amazing? I think it is amazing that there is so much going on.

As the organizer for the map in the Midwest and western dioceses, it has been such a pleasure to be able to share this work with so many awesome folks and evangelize the paradigm-shifting model of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). This method teaches that the scarcity-model paralyzes us with sadness, and encourages communities to work with what they have and who they have.

This resource will continue to grow and evolve as more churches across the diocese and country begin to offer up their ministries and content to the map. And our questions can begin now: How can we work together with the local Episcopal churches in town? What are our best ministries and what are our unique gifts, and how can those inform our work in the world? How can we continue letting go of the fear of scarcity and to serve God’s purpose? In the meantime, invite all your friends across the diocese to submit their info to their church’s Asset Map page. I am excited to see what we all have to offer!

Click here to view The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California's Asset Map:


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