Over $35,000 in grants, reduced assessment for some parishes, and a new youth initiative were approved by Diocesan Council this week, in an overwhelming show of support for ministries at both the diocesan and parish levels.

The grants were awarded to assist young people in their cultural, educational, and spiritual development through programs at three sites:

—Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Northside, $22,000 for its Reading, Prison Prayer Ministry, Friends of the Family, and Jazz@Emmanuel programs;

—St. Stephen’s, Wilkinsburg, $10,000 to help fund the Neighborhood Youth Outreach Program (NYOP);

Coal County Hang-Out Youth Center, Cambria County, $5,000 for social and human services needs for families suffering from the collapse of the mining industry.

Council formally recognized the Diocesan Youth Initiative, which was recently organized by the Rev. Kris Opat and a group of others representing five parishes and Calvary Camp. (See related article)  They are in the process of planning diocesan-wide events, including a kick-off hike with Bishop Johnson through North Park, followed by a family cook out and Eucharist, sometime in August.

“Everyone seems very excited, very hopeful for what we can be for the youth of this Diocese,” Opat said in reaction to this week’s vote of support by Council. He said the focus will initially be on middle to high school age students and their families, “but we’re looking to expand.”

Three parishes will be paying less in annual diocesan assessment, as Council recognized the effects of the current economic times. Council previously approved reduced assessments for several other parishes. This vote of “compassion” by Council allows the churches to keep more funds at the parish level to serve the needs of each congregation.

Council member John Hose, of the Church of the Advent, Jeanette contributed to this report.

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