The story of EES is a story of continuity and change: a continuous mission to serve the Episcopal Church through the channel of theological education, and change to adapt this service to most effectively steward our resources. Since 1998, our primary work has been the Evangelism for the Twenty-first Century grants program, which is available to members of seminary communities for projects of innovative evangelism. In 2014, the Board of Directors elected to be known as the Episcopal Evangelism Society, choosing adjectives from the legal name of the foundation that better describe our work and dropping the long-problematic “evangelical” from our common usage. In 2017, eligibility was expanded to include Episcopalians in local formation programs (ie, diocesan schools, Iona Collaborative).
EES is managed by a diverse Board of Directors, from across the US and with broad experience in the many ministries of the Episcopal Church. Their experience provides a valuable resource to applicants and a rich pool for envisioning how the foundation may be a catalyst for innovation. The Executive Director lives in North Carolina and travels nationally to seminaries and communities where grant work is done.
The E-21 grants program is, however, less than two decades old. EES was started in 1862 at the Philadelphia Divinity School, for the purpose of providing scholarship to young men of an evangelical theology preparing for ministry. Known as the Evangelical Education Society of the Episcopal Church, the name was intended to bind the Society to Anglican Evangelicalism, particularly the eighteenth century Evangelical Revival. From its founding through much of the twentieth century, the primary work of the foundation was scholarships, publishing and conferences. EES was a strong advocate for the ordination of women in the 1970’s.
Two scholars prepared historical reviews of the foundation for the 2012 Sesquicentennial. The Rev. Robert Pace, Ph.D., researched the history in the Archives of the Episcopal Church while a student at the Seminary of the Southwest. Dr. J. Kenneth McDonald, who served on the Board for many years, also wrote a detailed account of the transition to the E-21 grants program. Both documents may be reviewed on request to the Executive Director, [email protected].