Religion and spirituality are not just about going to a place of worship once a week – for many people of faith, formal worship is an important part of their spiritual lives, but not the whole. Santa Barbara’s churches and religious organizations do much more than simply meet to worship together, and this week’s Your Worship will highlight a few of the community groups, based in faith, that work to do good outside of a place of worship.
All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church is a good example of a local church that’s very active in community service. Twice a month, members of the congregation provide dinners and box lunches for Transition House, a shelter specifically for homeless families with children. The church also helps out at the Community Kitchen, cleans parks, beaches, and hiking trails, and participates in the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance.
The Santa Barbara Community Development Center (SBCDC), another local non-profit, is actually an offshoot of a group of Santa Barbara churches, including the Montecito Covenant Church. The SBCDC provides assistance ranging from food to mammograms to tutoring to low-income families in Goleta and Isla Vista.
While Transition House, the Community Kitchen, and the SBCDC are also supported by secular groups, the Santa Barbara faith community has been instrumental in providing them with the resources and helping hands they need to provide critical services to those in need.
Many Santa Barbara congregations also focus specifically on the needs of the communities surrounding them. Churches in Isla Vista, for example, tend to offer services tailored to students. St. Michael & All Angels Church, nicknamed St. Mike’s, has a group called College Crew, which offers UCSB students the opportunity to socialize, take day trips, and have fun while observing their faith. St. Mike’s also provides occasional lunches for UCSB faculty, staff, and students at the Faculty Club, and hosts Episcopalian high school students from Los Angeles and Oxnard who are interested in applying to UCSB.
As it would be nearly impossible to cover each and every one of the faith-based community service groups in Santa Barbara, this is merely a sampling of the outreach organizations currently active in town. Congregation B’nai B’rith and the other Jewish groups in Santa Barbara are dedicated to community service, and nearly every congregation uses donation from members to finance charity at home and abroad. All of these groups, also, encourage community members to participate, and will gladly provide information on how to get involved.