5 Questions with Rachel Babbitt
1) How long have you been affiliated with Jubilee Ministries, and in what capacity?
I am the Missioner on the Bishop's team and am the Jubilee Officer for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. I learned about Jubilee when I was hired into the position. I have been doing this work for 15 months.
2) What is/are your role(s) in your diocese? In your parish? In a ministry or ministries?
My title is Missioner for Community Engagement. I am responsible for connecting with our faith communities on work outside their church doors. I help link faith communities with the community. I also support volunteer training for faith communities and work with outreach committees.
I am the team member who coordinates our annual Mission Opportunity (which is a theme of mission work). I work with our commission for emergency preparedness. I am also a support person for ECMN's elected bodies.
I am the resident community organizer and, in that role, I teach a course for ECMN’s School for Formation, work one-on-one with faith communities on visioning and creating an action plan for mission.
To see more of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota's important work, check out their page on the Episcopal Asset Map. While you're there, search for innovative ministries, connect with leaders across the Church, and tell us about the ways the Spirit is at work in your neighborhood through a short survey.
3) What’s one way you’ve been changed by your work alongside the economically disadvantaged?
Prior to my work as a Missioner for ECMN, I worked for 10 years in the family homelessness arena of Minneapolis, managing family shelters and case-managing families (I have a bachelor's and master's of social work and a master's in public policy).
In listening to the many stories of families in shelter, I learned about their life experiences that were different than mine. I learned about how the system does and does not actually work. These pieces led me to questions like: How does my faith play a role in addressing this? How can faith institutions do better in addressing these issues? How can we live each day in doing better to those on the margins?
These questions ground my work with faith communities and create a client-centered focus and empowerment model of working with people.
Empowering our brothers and sisters is an important part of our work. Collaborating with Episcopal Relief & Development, we worked to create Called to Transformation, an Asset-Based Community Development curriculum that hosts workshops across The Episcopal Church.
4) What does advocacy mean to you?
Advocacy is about being a voice for others, but also working with those who do not know how to use their voice and helping them discover it.
Advocacy is about sharing information about issues and systems and helping people connect with those in power to share their perspective to create change for the better.
5) Where in your diocese (or parish, or ministry) have you seen Jesus?
Many faith communities in Minnesota are moving outside their church doors and into the community. Recently, St. Luke's in Detroit Lakes, MN co-hosted an event in their community about 'Meeting our Muslim Neighbors' in an attempt to address the lack of education and national rhetoric against Islam and Muslims. At this event, there were people who were threatened by Islam and spoke against Muslims. But overall, the event created space for people to be in relationship. After the speakers and Q and A session, folks moved into the lobby and shared food and conversation. It is in these moments I saw Jesus. People taking down the walls of division and creating connection.
This is only one example, there are many more: a Hmong congregation discussing how to reach out to their economically disadvantaged community, our ESC site Circle of the Beloved where four young adults begin their year of service in north Minneapolis, a rural church in southern Minnesota teaching their youth group about growing vegetables and creating rain barrels, our northwest Mission Area Gathering where we discussed the Doctrine of Discovery and the hurt to our native communities, and during our state convention as our members were sharing their story with each other as we begin a focus on racial reconciliation.
Rachel Babbitt is the Diocesan Jubilee Officer for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.
If you are interested in having your church or ministry designated a Jubilee Ministry, please contact Mr. Christopher Sikkema at 212-716-6055 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The application to be designated a Jubilee Ministry can be found HERE.