By: Lyndy Zabel
The Minnesota Conference’s Mission Promotion Team recently awarded grants to 20 churches across the state to help them form relationships with schools in their communities. The grants together totaled about $23,000. That funding came from the 2015 Love Offering, 30 percent of which was earmarked for these grants.
The grants, ranging between $1,000 and $1,200, aim to help churches share God’s love with the children in their areas while reaching new people for Christ and healing a broken world.
Projects that received funding are wide-ranging. The churches and projects that received grants include:
• UMC of Anoka, Community UMC in Columbia Heights, Crossroads Church in Lakeville, Living Spirit UMC in Minneapolis, and Mounds Park UMC in St. Paul received funds to supply food for needy children and their families to consume on weekends.
• Hope UMC in Blue Earth received funds to provide emergency clothes to schoolchildren.
• Annandale UMC received funds to give local children boots for the winter.
• First UMC in Appleton, Zion UMC in Bellingham, and First UMC in Correll received funds to be able to distribute socks and underwear to children in their communities.
• St. Paul’s UMC in Mendota Heights, Morris Federated Church, and Faith UMC in Sleepy Eye received funds to distribute backpacks and snacks to children.
• Hope UMC in Blue Earth and Brooklyn UMC in Brooklyn Center received funds to host back-to-school nights.
• Fairfax UMC received funds to visit children in a local school at lunch time.
• Albert Lea UMC, Motley UMC, and Pilgrim UMC in Plymouth received funds to host teacher appreciation events.
• Grandparents from Peace UMC in Virginia received funds to tutor grade-school students.
• St. Charles UMC received funds to adopt a first-grade classroom.
Some churches that received grants are working ecumenically. Others are working with another service organization or nonprofit in their area. Stronger relationships within each community will be forged because of these projects.
The churches that just received funding join many others that have already formed such partnerships. One such church is Oakwood UMC in New Ulm, which adopted an elementary school in 2011. Since then, the school ministry has continued to expand, and it now includes donating clothing for emergency needs, distributing appreciation gifts to school staff, supporting an annual baby shower for new moms, and securing a grant for healthy snacks for students who couldn’t afford them. This year, the school also plans to partner with other churches and the school district to pay for school assemblies and a teacher training on anti-bullying.
Together, we are making a difference in the lives of children. If you are interested in starting a school ministry, check out “50 Ways to Engage Local Schools” from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.
Rev. Lyndy Zabel is director of missional impact for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church