Christ Church Earns $100,000 Grant for Community Cafe

The Reverend Karen Campbell of the Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor. Michael Heller photo

For Christ Episcopal Church Rev. Karen Ann Campbell, it felt like a little bit of divine intervention when she received word last Friday that the church’s proposed “Community Café” was awarded $100,000 from the Texas-based nonprofit, Moody Foundation.

The grant funding, coupled with the close to $100,000 raised independently for the nonprofit café, will enable construction of the café after the project earns approval from regulatory boards in the Village of Sag Harbor, said Rev. Campbell on Tuesday.

“It is just a huge gift,” she said. “It means we can go ahead with the commercial kitchen and we are so appreciative of that.”

In many ways, Rev. Campbell said, the grant funding does indeed feel like “a gift from God.” The Moody Foundation, which has operated for over 75 years, largely funds only projects and programs that benefit communities in Texas, with over 4,000 grants awarded totaling $1.7 billion. Recent grants include a $100 million gift to Southern Methodist University for the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, $130 million for a new basketball arena at the University of Texas at Austin and $1.5 million to provide computers to underserved youth in Galveston.

How the foundation became aware of Rev. Campbell’s hopes for the Community Café —envisioned as a place where the food insecure and those seeking companionship can come have a weekly, restaurant-style meal, free-of-charge, with no questions asked — was through a board member at the foundation, who rented a home nearby. While Ms. Campbell declined to name the trustee, she said he attended church a handful of times this summer and called Rev. Campbell to find out if the church had any pressing needs. She told the gentleman about the Community Café, and he suggested she apply for a grant.

“It is my understanding this is only the second time they have given money outside of Texas,” said Rev. Campbell. “We are just thrilled we will be able to feed people in the village who are food insecure or otherwise in need. We really feel like this is a gift from God.”

With the funding, Rev. Campbell said she hopes construction will begin as soon as next fall, although the church is still waiting on the Town of East Hampton to close on its $520,000 purchase of 0.3-acres of land adjacent to the church that it is buying through its Community Preservation Fund. The land will be used as a passive park once it is formally acquired. The proceeds of the purchase will be placed in an endowment that will help support the Community Café over time.