Monday, April 14, 2008

ECV Partnerships Revealed

“Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:38b)

How true. One of the key ways we feel called to invest our financial resources at this stage in our development as a church is in the work of those into whose labor we are entering, folks we’re calling ECV Partners. These are organizations doing Kingdom work in our city and around the world, work they’ve been doing long before the Elm City Vineyard was on the scene. All told, $.30 of every dollar you give to the Elm City Vineyard goes directly to fund the work of these partners, roughly half of that to partners working internationally, and half to folks working here in New Haven.

We are so stoked to be able to support the work of these great organizations as they advance the work of the Kingdom. We'll be hearing more from each of these organizations over the weeks and months ahead—more about who they are, what they do, how we can be involved. But, for now, let me briefly introduce the Elm City Vineyard Partners for the 2008-09 fiscal year:

Love146 is a secular non-profit that works toward the abolition of child sex trafficking and exploitation through prevention and aftercare. They train aftercare workers, multiply safehomes, aid socioeconomic development programs in high risk communities and provide a voice for children who have become victims of what can only be described as modern-day slavery. Our partnership with Love146 is specifically oriented towards supporting a safehome they’re establishing in the Philippines that will provide aftercare for the victims of this horrendous injustice. Kathy Maskell is a full-time staff member for Love146; I know a couple others who are around ECV a fair bit also have significant connections to Love146.

Pathways for Mutual Respect is a non-profit founded by two ECV couples, the Hartley’s and the Evans’, that builds trust, respect and mutual understanding between the people of the US and Iran by creating opportunities for intercultural discovery, dialogue, and collaboration. They create these opportunities both state-side in round-table conversations and by sending Americans to Iran on journeys of cross-cultural discovery. While Pathways is a secular organization, their work is a beautiful embodiment of the reconciliation that the Kingdom of God is to bring among the nations.

OMF: A member of our own community is currently preparing to head to Taiwan to work with a missionary team from OMF International. Audrey Lin is planning to leave in May of 2009 to work among Taiwan’s “urban marginalized people.” While the Church has made some inroads in Taiwan, this progress has been limited almost completely to the Westernized upper class, leaving the working-class and poor unreached by the gospel. Audrey’s work will focus on reaching the homeless, prostitutes, AIDS patients and the like.

In addition to these three partnerships that are oriented internationally, our Global Outreach team has also been tasked with finding and supporting a project focused directly on relief work overseas. (we'll post something about that when that decision is made.)

Here in our city, we are supporting the following partners:

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is a college campus ministry that works to establish and advance at colleges and universities witnessing communities of students and faculty who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord: growing in love for God, God’s Word, God’s people of every ethnicity and culture and God’s purposes in the world. Many of us have encountered Jesus profoundly through InterVarsity’s work at Yale and around the country. Our partnership with IV will be to support our very own Tom Sharp in leading a new area for IV in southwestern CT, including established ministries at Yale and Southern Connecticut State, but also new fellowship-planting activities on campuses in New Haven, down the shoreline and as far north as Danbury.

FOCUS is a campus ministry that provides a deep, thoughtful witness to the Gospel on the campuses of New England’s many lonely boarding schools (among other places). ECV Liz Moore is currently on staff, advancing this important work, traveling across New England to help make the gospel real to high school students beginning to ask the fundamental questions of life.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church has invited us to partner with them as they work to establish “Your Place,” a community center dedicated to Newhallville youth. “Your Place,” a result of collaborations with a legal advocacy group for foster care youth, New Haven alternative sentencing programs and the Cove Center for grieving children, provides youth with a safe, enriching, and empowering alternative to gang life that is rampant in the neighborhood. This project came about from a group of St. Andrew’s parishioners and friends coming together to pray for the healing and the end of violence in Newhallville. We are honored to be invited to participate in this work and excited to see where God is leading us in this partnership.

New Haven Reads is a local New Haven non-profit that works to provide an environment where children and adults have access to free books and tutoring to increase their literacy skills and academic performance. Located at the intersection of Yale and the Dixwell neighborhood, they provide tutoring for more than 250 students on a shoestring budget (their executive director does not draw a salary—see we have so much in common!). What’s more, ECVers Sunny Jonas, Rachel Zeile, and Ryan Mays work at New Haven Reads. We’re stoked to support them in their service to kids in the Dixwell neighborhood.

The Fair Haven Community Health Center has an outpost they call “The Body Shop” at the Fair Haven K-8 School. They provide primary care services to all of the students in the school regardless of their insurance status and are the primary health provider for at least one-quarter of the students they see… which causes a problem when summer comes and the school closes for summer vacation. In order to maintain contact with these kids through the summer months, ECVer and clinic staff member Michelle Kennedy has proposed creating a gardening program that would—in addition—engage kids in meaningful outdoor activity, model investment in group activity and community, establish relationship with kids and their families, and provide nutrition and lifestyle models. We’ve agreed to provide the modest funding required to make this happen and can’t wait to see (or taste) the results.

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