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Walking the Walk: The ABCDs Part III

Updated: Nov 19, 2022

New Orleans Coffee Import Co. is born out of Episcopal church partnerships. This series, The ABCD's, shares the story of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines' journey: from overcoming a dependency mindset, to pioneering a new development model, and sharing its lessons with marginalized communities.

Asset-Based Community/Church Development (ABCD) isn’t just a model from a book that the Episcopal Church in the Philippines' development program haphazardly adopted; it’s been the m.o. of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP) since it boldly discovered firsthand that it works.

Learning the ABCDs

While the ECP became independent from The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the USA in 1990, 60% of its budget was still covered by an annual grant subsidy from the US. Wanting to achieve true independence and "stand on its own two feet," the ECP created a plan to gradually reduce the subsidy until it reached $0 in 2007.

Community members share their experience managing income-generating projects to make their local parish self-sufficient.

Initially, budget deficits grew, programs were frozen, and salaries were delayed. In 2004, the annual grant subsidy still covered 14% of the budget. Parish priests felt they had exhausted all income-generating efforts, and most believed the ECP couldn’t reach the 2007 target. The ECP tentatively resolved to request a 3 year extension from the TEC. The next day however, the ECP made a bold decision. It did the complete opposite and resolved to end grant support, not by 2007, in 3 years, but by the end of that same year.

Diocesan leaders and members were outraged, but leadership ‘bit the bullet.’ Many prepared for the worst (deficits, salary delays, etc), but none of these came to be. In fact, for the first time in 20 years, the ECP ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus of 3,000,000 pesos (about $55,000)!

“The Church learned that it is only when it stops looking towards others and instead starts to fully look into

Learning skills to manage community income-generating projects

itself that it realizes what it has and what it can achieve with it…. It did not just read about, analyze and conclude that ABCD was an effective tool - it actually lived it out and proved it to be the correct approach to development.”

From this experience, the ECP officially adopted ABCD as the mode to pursue community development work.

Our next series will explore how the ECP's development program now applies the ABCD framework to empower rural communities in the Philippines.

Quotes and stories here are taken from the E-CARE Foundation Manual of Operations.


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