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What part do relationships play in outreach at your parish? As I think about the programs highlighted in this column over the past year, what strikes me is how integral relationships are to each program. The relationships we build with those we serve. The relationships we build with our fellow parishioners. The relationships we build with the ecumenical groups with whom we partner. While at an outreach gathering for my own church, I reflected on how much I respected and cared about those folks, knowing how much they cared about those we served. So, I would ask the same question again, knowing that I hope I have already provided the answer. And that is that relationships are the foundation of all we do. Relationships really do form the core of our human community. As we live into our Baptismal Covenant, ‘will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?’

Keep in mind, it takes courage, thought, and planning to start and keep up outreach over time. That is why our Task Force made sure we wrote a “Process To Launch A Ministry To The Un-Housed” for your use.

Determine the need for the ministry:

  • Meet with and talk with those who would be served (‘not for me without me’)
  • Determine if any other organizations are providing this ministry. If so, what are the gaps that need to be filled to serve those in need? If no other organization is providing the ministry, seek creative solutions that others may be using related to the need, explore via the internet, or contact the Bishop’s Task Force for assistance. Do both!

Develop a concise statement of mission for the ministry:

  • What it is, how it will be provided, and why it fulfills our Baptismal Covenant.

Define what constitutes the ministry:

  • What physical assets would be used (buildings, kitchens, parking lots, hygiene and laundry facilities, etc)
  • How are people involved in the ministry? (how many, who are they, what skills are needed, what are the time demands)
  • What funding is needed for the ministry?

Enlist the support of parish leadership and gather their concerns/issues:

  • Meet with vicar/rector/priest-in-charge and discuss the foregoing and secure their support.
  • Meet with vestry/BC to get their concurrence to take the next steps.

Address the concerns/issues of parish leadership:

  • Community issues. How will neighbors react? Are any permits required from your jurisdiction?
  • Safety and Insurance issues. Guidance from local police and fire. Review of parish insurance relative to liability, etc.
  • Recruit necessary people to staff the ministry.
  • Ensure there is available budget for the ministry.
  • Other concerns of parish leadership.

Secure approval from parish leadership to move forward:

  • Hold an all-parish meeting to explain the ministry, how it will help fulfill our Baptismal Covenant, how it will function, who is responsible, and what support you need from parishioners.

Launch ministry:

  • Hold periodic reviews of the ministry. How is it working? What is not working? What do we need to change? Is it time to retire the ministry? (With God’s help, hopefully not soon.)

Be well, do good works, love one another,
Don Fornoff, Member Bishop’s Taskforce on Homelessness (

Updates from the Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness

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