St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
In 2004, St. Paul’s Episcopal in Alexandria, Virginia created the Lazarus Ministry aimed at helping low income families in the city’s West End who lack food, shelter, medical care and other basic needs. The vast majority of the clients are women with children living at or below the poverty level. Over the years, the Lazarus Ministry has grown to include the “Gleaning Project” – providing fresh produce and protein to the City’s local Farmer’s Market; assist clients with rent, utility bills and prescription payments; provide financial planning; and connect clients to job openings, job searches and health screenings. Spiritual counselors and Morning Prayer are also available.
With the Lazarus Ministry growing rapidly and the number of people in need continuing to rise, St. Paul’s Church sought a new way to expand their ministry within the community. Through collaboration with Christ Church, Alexandria, they found a location for the expansion of this ministry conveniently located in the West End of Alexandria at the Church of the Resurrection. The new location known as the West End Lazarus Ministry (WEL) will accommodate client work schedules and continue to ensure all clients get the best care and the upmost respect while continuing to provide food, health care and living expenses to help the lives of poverty-stricken people.
The WEL finally became a reality when St. Paul’s Church received a Mustard Seed Grant in 2015. Together the volunteers from St. Paul’s, Christ Church, and Church of the Resurrection have been able to serve more than three times as many families in need in the Alexandria area. In the first 10 months this new location has helped 284 families with an average of $240 of financial assistance.
The continued success of the WEL is a testament to the collaboration of these three churches and the many volunteers who play key roles in making this location thrive. The churches have recruited volunteers from both inside and outside their parishes. Additional volunteers have come from parishes in Region IV and Goodwin House in Alexandria.
Melanie Gray of Christ Church oversees and directs the new location of the Lazarus Ministry. She is pictured here with some of the financial counselors. With the help of volunteers like Melanie and Ross Kane, the associate rector at St. Paul’s Church, the Lazarus Ministry continues to flourish.
In 2016, St. Paul’s received the Bishop’s Outreach Award at the Diocesan Convention for all their hard work and determination to make the WEL site a reality. This self-sustaining ministry receives many donations from churches in the area and has also found that many grants they received are being renewed for the next year.
Thanks to the help of the numerous volunteers, the initial Mustard Seed Grant, and through the collaboration with Christ Church and the Church of the Resurrection, St. Paul’s has been able to expand their ministry to those in financial hardship and to allow this grace-filled ministry to grow.