Cypress House at St. Luke’s is a newly affiliated 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of St. Luke’s Church, Scranton.
Located in center city Scranton, St. Luke’s has long had a focus on reaching out to the community and living into our historic motto “in the heart of things.” In that same spirit, Cypress House at St. Luke’s, has been established as a faith-based organization that will offer social services based upon the needs of our community.
The name, Cypress House, was chosen as the Cypress tree, which has a majestic appearance, has long been associated with death and rebirth, with transformation into strength. It is also known for its healing properties, and its spiraling into the air is associated with divine light. Common to the Holy Land, cypress trees grow well in dry climates, offering shade and comfort to those in distress; in a similar vein, St. Luke’s seeks to offer a compassionate response to the human suffering in our community. There are numerous organizations providing social services in the area. Therefore, our goal is to be a collaborative partner with existing organizations by providing services that are not offered, as yet.
A study by the Vera Institute shows that while the number of people held in local jails on any day in the United States has increased four-fold since 1970, the jail incarceration rate of Lackawanna County has increased by more than 15 times between 1970 and 2014. Amongst Scranton’s local prison population, minorities are 12 times more likely to be imprisoned here than whites (the national rate is 4 times). The local re-entry task force indicates that despite an incarceration population of over 1000, only 50-60 supportive employment opportunities exist in the community.
The inaugural program of Cypress House will be a bakery that will serve as a prison re-entry program.
Using HomeBoy Bakery of Los Angeles, California as a prototype, the long term goal of Cypress House is to develop a viable business run entirely by those re-entering society to rival commercial bakeries in daily production and sales volume.
Its short-term goal is to teach marketable skills via the development of a menu of gourmet sandwiches which will be freshly made using top-quality ingredients and homemade bread that is baked daily on the premises. The sandwiches will then be hand-delivered to downtown businesses by Cypress House employees. In addition to job training, the program will be directed by a social services professional highly skilled at counseling, as well as vocational training in a culturally sensitive manner. Actual apprenticeships will be awarded by a licensed baker.
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Through Cypress House, we hope to live more deeply into God’s call to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being.
Donations to Cypress House Bakery may be sent to:
Cypress House Bakery
232 Wyoming Ave. Scranton, PA 18503
or by visiting the Cypress House website
Cypress House at St. Luke’s Awarded a United Thank Offering Grant
It is with great pleasure that we share with you the news that Cypress House at St. Luke’s has been awarded a 50K grant from the United Thank Offering (UTO) of the Episcopal Church.
This year’s UTO grant focused on areas of ministry that serve those who society has left out and left behind. Specifically, this year’s UTO grant focus is on innovative mission and ministry projects addressing all aspects of the worldwide incarceration crisis, specifically preventative programs and intervention, prisoner support outreach, prison reform work, or post-prison re-entry.
Cypress House at St. Luke’s will open a bakery, modeled after Homeboy Industries of LA, and offer employment to previously incarcerated individuals, with a special concern to hire individuals who identify as black, Latino/a, indigenous, or of another marginalized identity. Apprentices will learn marketable skills in the baking industry via a baking methods/skills development curriculum.
We are grateful to have received this generous support for our initiative from the UTO. Please consider a donation to Cypress House, or to the United Thank Offering by visiting www.unitedthankoffering.com
Click here to read more about all of this year’s grant recipients.
November Webinar with 2023 Grant Recipients
On Wednesday, November 15, 2023 @ 1:00PM the United Thank Offering November webinar was aired nationally. The live streamed webinar featured grant recipients, amongst whom was our own Cypress House Bakery, in conversation with one another discussing the work each is engaged in around the worldwide incarceration crisis. St. Luke’s Rector and Cypress House President & CEO, The Rev’d Rebecca Barnes and Dr. Helen Wolf, Secretary, represented the Cypress House Bakery on the webinar. The recording of the webinar is now available and may be viewed here. 2023 grant recipients engaged with each other around reflecting on the worldwide incarceration crisis and the focus from Matthew 25 to visit/care for those who are in prison. This year’s four grant sites:
Cypress House Bakery: Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem. (Cypress House at St. Luke’s will open a bakery and offer employment to previously incarcerated individuals, with a special concern to hire individuals who identify as Black, Latino/a, Indigenous, or of another marginalized identity. Apprentices will learn marketable skills in the baking industry via a baking methods/skills development curriculum.)
St. Leonard’s Ministries and St. Andrew’s Church: Community Gathering Space, Chicago, Illinois, in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. (This project will renovate Saint Andrew’s Church, on St. Leonard’s Ministries campus, to create a new community space for returning citizens. It will host residents, alumni, community partners, and faith leaders, and together share what it means to welcome returning citizens back into community with needed support, dignity, acceptance, and kindness.)
Well Time 2.0: Empowering Reentry, Des Moines, Iowa, in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. (Well Time 2.0: Empowering Reentry will recruit/prepare volunteers from churches to provide faith-based support to women recently released from prison through weekly group meetings at the Waterloo Women’s Center for Change and through individual reentry teams for women to offer compassionate guidance to overcome personal, societal, and economic barriers.)
Diocesan Justice Liaison Project, Tulsa, in the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma. (Oklahoma leads the nation in incarcerating mothers and fathers. New Hope at Trinity serves vulnerable children of prisoners, and the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma delivers many prison-based programs. A diocesan justice liaison will serve as an effective bridge between programs, encourage additional and new participation, and provide additional support unique to a social worker.)
Join to learn more about how Episcopal congregations and ministries are showing up and being the face of Christ in their communities while supporting returning citizens, families of incarcerated people, and more. We hope to see you at this wonderful webinar, where we can be inspired by the amazing things the church is doing and give thanks for the amazing work our thank offerings are funding.