Just as there are many ways to engage with God’s Mission in the world, there are many ways for us here at St. Stephen’s to engage with our missional focus of Food and Feeding People, and that includes economic engagement.
“What if we were mindful of the relationship in every economic transaction?”
Think about it–we live in a world driven by a vast web of economic connections, and we are called as Christians to consider the intersection of our faith and economics. We are called to ask the question, “how do I live and express my faith in an economic world?”
There are many possible answers to that question, some of which are very familiar:
- purchasing from companies that embrace values and issues close to your heart
- purchasing individual products that are aligned with your beliefs
- donating money to charity
- choosing not to participate in cultural economic activities
However, here at St. Stephen’s, we decided to try a different approach entirely, an approach that embraces the relational aspects of our economy, because every economic transaction we make, no matter how big or small, is at its core a relationship. What if we were mindful of the relationship in every economic transaction? What if we treated our economic transactions as a means to greater relationship?
St. Stephen’s & Micro Loans
While every economic transaction is relational, most are fleeting and many are impersonal–a trip through the grocery store checkout line or an online purchase. We decided that we wanted to pursue something that was far more personal and longer lasting; we decided we wanted to start making micro loans!
Why lend money? It’s pretty simple, loans are premised on time, trust, and communication–good markers of any relationship. Further, by narrowing our lending activity to small businesses that are also engaged in the areas of food and feeding people, we will:
- Recognize that God is at work in our wider community in the efforts of many people
- Support others who are engaged in our common mission
- Forge new relationships with businesses and organizations around East Haddam and the surrounding towns
- Symbolically and literally demonstrate that we are all in this work together!
In order to facilitate these micro loans, St. Stephen’s has partnered with Kiva Zip–a new program of the internationally-renowned organization, Kiva, which facilitates microloans all over the world. Not only does Kiva Zip take care of the administrative back-end of a loan, it opens the door to crowd-funded loans that are much larger than anything St. Stephen’s could afford on its own–instead of making a $500 loan by ourselves, we can facilitate a $5,000 loan from lenders around our community and all over the world! Not only is it a much larger amount, it also means that we are facilitating relationships, not only between our parish and a local business, but with countless individuals, near and far.
Even more importantly, it means that you can help too! We’ve already endorsed our first micro loan to a great local business in East Haddam that is passionate about feeding people good food, 32 Main. Head on over to the Kiva Zip website and check it out–we’d love to have you join in our mission!
Thinking Differently in Your Faith Community
Are you interested in exploring different ways of engaging with mission in your faith community? We recommend starting by checking out the 1K Churches Campaign of the Criterion Institute for more information, curriculum, and stories from other churches around the country.