[Episcopal Church of Minnesota press release] On October 11, the Trustees of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECMN) voted unanimously to forgive the remaining balances of all loans currently held between the Trustees and ECMN faith communities (parishes or missions within ECMN), totaling more than $1.2 million. The Trustees are elected to ensure the missional sustainability of faith communities, and have traditionally managed property, engaged in investments, and made loans to faith communities. After nearly two years of discernment about their identity and role within ECMN, the Trustees have chosen to divest themselves of the loan program, converting the remaining loan funds to a matching grant program for property maintenance called the ECMN Maintenance Savings Plan.
Of the Trustee’s recent action, the Rt. Rev. Brian Prior, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, said, “Part of our heritage is that of the Jubilee, where our spiritual ancestors reset their relationships with their neighbors by letting go of debts and obligations held against one another. I am proud that our Trustees made this brave decision, and pray that our faith communities will have even more resources from which to engage in God’s work.”
This decision affects, in total, six faith communities around the state: two in the Twin Cities metro area, two in the Duluth area, and two in Central Minnesota. One of the Central Minnesota faith communities largest outreach effort is working to educate the public and raise awareness about human trafficking, while another one of the faith communities, also located in Central Minnesota, is very active in donating to local food shelves and providing meals to those in need.
For the other four faith communities that are affected by this decision, working on issues such as providing food for those in need and combating homelessness are among the most common community outreach efforts that these parishes and missions are engaged in.
The Trustees expect to have the Maintenance Savings Plan fully operational by January 1, 2015. Through this matching grant program, the Trustees will match a portion of investments from faith communities, while offering simple tools and a template that will enable faith communities to easily create a plan for maintenance while enhancing their sustainability in God’s mission.