The Becoming Beloved Community Task Force is excited to announce that we have hired Amy Howton as our Becoming Beloved Community Coordinator for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Amy began her work with the diocese on October 15. She will be working half-time, 20 hours per week, thanks to a grant from the United Thank Offering. The grant period runs until next August.

Amy’s educational background is in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Community Mental Health. She brings 25 years of healing and justice work from various contexts – from grassroots organizing to community-based organizations to higher education. She currently works with a Cincinnati-based, social innovation non-profit, Design Impact.

Amy first learned of the “beloved community” from a Kingian Nonviolence Training she participated in years ago and since then, has been inspired by Dr. King’s vision of transformative change being rooted in deep, sustained connection with one another. One of her long-time, sacred quotes comes from activist Lilla Watson, “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine then let us work together.” For Amy, this is the work of becoming beloved community: to learn and experience how our liberation is bound together. A cradle Episcopalian and active member of All Saints, Pleasant Ridge, she is so grateful for the opportunity to join this movement in our church community.

The diocese has committed to the work of Becoming Beloved Community as part of our diocesan mission and will work to offer learning and engagement through our congregations and the development of Beloved Community Centersthroughout the diocese. These communities of practice will receive training and will engage in missional community projects, and hopefully become teaching centers for congregations and faith communities across Southern Ohio. Over the course of the next year and beyond, Becoming Beloved Community will be our diocesan-wide learning theme, challenging us to explore how we might work towards beloved community in our own neighborhoods and contexts.

Alongside the Becoming Beloved Community Task Force, Amy will support the development of the Centers, ensuring at least one Center in each major region of the diocese. We welcome your ideas and help to discover the “sparks of light” where beloved community is already forming. A granting initiative will be available for those who are developing beloved community programming or projects in their local context. A few examples might be partnerships to work towards racial healing in our schools, farming initiatives with refugee neighbors, or shared meal and conversation groups across racial or cultural communities.

The goal of working to become beloved community is to change hearts and to transform how we feel about and interact with our neighbors and with this fragile earth, our island home. Our diocese has made a commitment to follow Jesus into the neighborhood, seeking to live out our Baptismal vows in sharing the good news, serving Christ in all people, and working for justice and peace. We believe that the work of Becoming Beloved Community can help us more fully live into our call to walk in the way of Jesus and build the kingdom of God. We hope you will join us in working toward Becoming Beloved Community in Southern Ohio.