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Local churches receive grants for global projects

By Wayne Rhodes*
Nov. 6, 2008 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)

A response to extreme tribal poverty by a United Methodist church in the Philippines is among programs that will receive a grant from the social action agency of The United Methodist Church.

Directors of the Board of Church and Society awarded more than $150,000 in ethnic local church grants at their Oct. 23-26 meeting. The purpose of the grants is to strengthen ethnic local churches through education, advocacy or leadership development as they engage in social justice ministry.

First United Methodist Church in Davao City, East Mindanao Conference of the Philippines, will receive $7,450 for its "Literacy and Livelihood Program toward a Church Planting in Tamayong." This new church start empowerment project seeks to support self-reliance, stewardship of creation, sustainable agriculture and health care through religious education and summer vacation Bible school. The program focuses on agriculture, gender and leadership in church and society.

The directors approved $12,000 from the Human Relations Day United Methodist Special Sunday offering for a justice education and leadership development program in the Baltimore-Washington Conference. The program is designed to produce committed, social justice-oriented United Methodist young adults for leadership in the church and society.

The board’s 30-year-old Ethnic Young Adult Summer Internship program received $30,000. Under the program, ethnic young adults from around the world work as interns in social justice settings in Washington D.C., including at the board's headquarters. In 2008, 12 interns came from the United States, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia and the Philippines. The program is administered by Inter-Ethnic Strategy Development and the Board of Church and Society.

Ethnic local church grants

The African-American Heritage Center in Largo, Md., will receive $10,000 for a new empowerment initiative to establish a cross-jurisdictional, historical training center in the church's Northeastern Jurisdiction.

The goal is to preserve oral and written history and artifacts of United Methodist African Americans who have had an impact in the general church. The center will involve partnerships with agencies and annual conferences to develop experiential education and training resources and events.

The board approved $7,000 to help underwrite a United Methodist seminar in Washington D.C. for leaders of the National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists. The national caucus is sponsoring a four-day public policy and leadership event involving 25 adult and young adult clergy and laity. The seminar will address the United Methodist Social Principles, especially as they relate to U.S. immigration issues and solidarity with responses to extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. The goal is to raise awareness of methods for developing trainers for advocacy within local churches and the caucus itself.

A new conference initiative in the Philippines, called "Women in Pursuit of Peace with Justice," received $7,000. The grant is to the Board of Women’s Work to promote the value of peace, justice and human rights among indigenous, peasant and urban peoples. The initiative places an emphasis on education and formation, biblical and theological formation, and grassroots mobilization over a two-year period.

In South Germany, a new five-day hospitality retreat offering sanctuary to African migrants and asylum seekers received $3,000. The Peace Church Mother and Children Retreat is a program of Peace International United Methodist Church. The program will help single mothers in Germany acclimate to the systems of health care, language skills, social networks, trust building and social services. At the same time, the intent is to help immigrants and refugees adapt to life in German society through the church as a safe center.

A literacy project in Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa received $30,000. Besides literacy, the project in the Missionary District of Korogho addresses education in human rights and gender issues. The leadership development initiative is a response to the social and economic crisis in northern Côte d’Ivoire. Over a 12-month period, it will provide basic literacy education to 200 women for economic empowerment, marketing of products, and management of small businesses. Components include training 10 gender-competent literacy trainers and education on gender and human rights issues by 2010.

The Bronx New Church will get $5,000 for its Abundant Social Justice Ministries initiative. The urban, multi-racial/ethnic congregation has strong community public and private partnerships in a densely populated area. The initiative will establish an advocacy ministry to support racial justice, immigrant and civil rights, and increase employment and housing. Program components include research, discipleship training, educational workshops and festivals.

In the Baltimore-Washington Conference, $1,000 is for Clinton United Methodist Church, a Maryland congregation of primarily African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos. The grant is for the congregation’s mental health ministry, under which a five-month effort is planned to address the crisis of domestic and family violence. A focal point is to address the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the Minnesota Conference, $5,000 will be awarded to Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis to develop young leaders for small group discussion and service. The local church leadership development project will recruit a diverse set of young leaders, and the grant will be applied toward three-month stipends, a retreat setting and service stipends.

In the Nebraska Conference, the Missouri River District’s "Strategy for Dismantling Racism" will receive $8,000. The grant is to United Methodist Ministries for a new public policy initiative to identify multiracial, urban youths to confront racism in church and society. Components include a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and development of an area strategic plan. Grant funds will cover stipends for an artistic coordinator, artists, materials and consultants.

In the North Carolina Conference, Apex United Methodist Church will receive $3,500 for a community and Latino ministry startup program to develop local church leaders. It will enable Latinos to participate in small group social empowerment groups, English as a Second Language and computer classes, esteem workshops and immigration advocacy. The Ethnic Local Church funding will be applied toward community-organizing training.

Also in the North Carolina Conference, $27,000 is awarded to Rockingham District Partners in Ministry’s "Youth Empowered to Succeed." This two-year, multi-generational congregational initiative provides leadership training and mentoring. It builds on this past summer’s mentoring ministry and small group leadership training.

In the Virginia Conference, $6,000 is approved for Farmville United Methodist Church’s reconciliation project in an effort to address local issues of racial division. Objectives of this project include racial dialogue and awareness training; collection of oral histories and attempts at restorative justice; communication; education; fellowship; and worship.

In the Oregon-Idaho Conference, a new leadership development program will receive $5,600. "Adelante! Hispanic Ministry Training Institute" builds on ongoing components that address racism, restrictive immigration laws and developing leaders through the eight "first steps" of the National Plan for Hispanic and Latino Ministries. The institute also will focus on developing pastor-mentor relationships, workshops on the church’s response to immigration, advocacy and the Social Principles.

The Human Relations Day Grant of $12,000 is to Gethsemane United Methodist Church for its "Justice Education and Leadership Development Program." The congregational effort engages young adults in community-organizing efforts through two Gamaliel Foundation workshops, as well as restorative justice training. The program will address domestic violence prevention and juvenile offender ministries, and the grant will help train five people and provide peace with justice materials.

Grant application process

The ethnic local church grants are awarded twice a year. Jan. 10 is deadline for the March funding cycle; Aug. 10 is deadline for the October cycle. An application form with grant description and steps to qualify is available through the Board of Church and Society. (www.umc-gbcs.org)

Grants are administered through the board’s Ministry of Resourcing Congregational Life.

For more information about applying, contact the Rev. Neal Christie, Assistant General Secretary, Education and Leadership Formation, United Methodist Board of Church & Society, 100 Maryland Ave. NE, Washington D.C. 20002, via e-mail at nchristie@umc-gbcs.org or by phone at (202) 488-5611.

*Rhodes is editor of Faith in Action, a newsletter from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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