Episcopal Service Corps is a national organization that has authorized 32 local sites for mission and ministry. Young adult participants in Episcopal Service Corps live simply in intentional Christian community, and engage in a year of service, prayer and spirituality, vocational discernment, and justice.
In 2013, a small group of Episcopalians—lay and ordained—began exploring the possibility of creating an Episcopal Service Corps site in Minneapolis. Between 2013 and 2015 various stakeholders including Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, Urban Homeworks and EpiscoBuilders gathered to chart a course to a successful launch. Circle of the Beloved, the program name decided for the Minneapolis site, was authorized in October 2015 for a September 2016 launch by the national Episcopal Service Corps organization.
The particular mission of Circle of the Beloved is to create communities where service deepens into kinship and transformation within the neighborhoods served. At the first residence in North Minneapolis, which will open in fall 2016, the Circle will serve this mission by recruiting local young adult leaders from “first job” locations (e.g. at Cookie Cart, Urban Homeworks, Tree Trust and others) for a year of prayer, community, and service with Circle—bridging that “first job” experience with practices that lead to vocation. The second residence in Loring Park will seek to deepen Saint Mark’s relationship with its neighbors in need, including young adults seeking to overcome the opportunity and achievement gaps through education at MCTC.
The Wells Foundation started in the 1880s when Annie Wells, the wife of Saint Mark’s rector the Rev. T.B. Wells, gave German immigrants sewing lessons. It grew to serve immigrant populations in Minneapolis, eventually becoming a settlement house, and it is now a charitable foundation that supports innovative efforts to address community needs.
The Wells Foundation grant of $10,000 will allow Circle of the Beloved’s program director, Rev. Craig Lemming, to launch Circle successfully. Rev. Lemming will do significant organizing and recruiting in North Minneapolis and Downtown Minneapolis, will develop the key programmatic components of Circle, and will strengthen relationships with “first job” organizations and other key stakeholders in those communities, and assist prospective young adults in applying to the program.
All young adult participants in Circle will have the opportunity to do deep vocational and spiritual discernment through the practices of intentional Christian community, service, simplicity, and prayer. Through their placements at AmeriCorps sites, they will also receive an award of more than $5000 for future education or relief of prior educational debt. For some, this will provide access to higher education; for others, it may lead to leadership roles in the church or nonprofit sector. Regardless, young adult residents in Circle will deeply engage the Northside and Loring Park neighborhoods, bringing awareness, transformation, and possibility to these neighborhoods and to stakeholders like St. Andrew’s and Saint Mark’s.
Rev. Lemming and Rev. Wiens Heinsohn are supported by a steering team of members from Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, St Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Episcopal deacons and North Minneapolis community members in bringing this exciting program to life. They include: