'Building the Beloved Community' in New Orleans

December 18, 2009

Marking the launch of Episcopal Community Services (ECS) of Louisiana's new experiential learning program, a three-week course will run Jan. 9-30 during which seminarians will live in community at the diocese's Urban Ministry Center, where they will develop skills and experience in community organizing and revitalization. Currently, 10 students from four seminaries are signed up for the course.

"The course will pilot a new approach for forming leaders of community-based mission," a diocesan news story said. "The course in the theology, leadership, and formation of mission-based community is offered to teach seminarians how to respectfully cross racial, ethnic, and economic boundaries to help create communities of trust that reflect the gospel's social values."

Episcopal Community Services of Louisiana helps to rebuild houses, communities and lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina through volunteer work, case management, counseling services and congregation-based ministries. Further information is available here.

The learning program is being developed and delivered by ECS's Director of Advocacy and Community Affairs Courtney Cowart, Executive Director Nell Bolton, Director of Mission and Volunteer Operations Pete Nunnally, Rebuild Program Coordinator Liz Carrier, and Community Organizer Shakoor Aljuwani.

"It is our hope that this course will deeply inform participants' understanding of the centrality of relational leadership skills for the exercise of community ministries," said Cowart. "The vehicle for learning will be experiences of practicing community organizing and community revitalization under the guidance of seasoned local leaders and Housing Rebuild crew chiefs. It's exciting for us to be able to share some of the knowledge and skills gained by leaders of our community in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with future leaders of the Episcopal Church."

Cowart expressed her gratitude to the Seminary Commission on Ministry, Jubilee Ministries, the Presiding Bishop's office, and the Episcopal Church's Mission Funding Office for providing funding that made the development and implementation of the program possible.

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