By: Christa Meland
Fifty-five Minnesota churches applied for a micro grant of up to $2,500—and 40 of the applicants will receive funds to put toward innovative and creative approaches to growth and vitality.
Since 2005, the Department of Congregational Development’s Investing in Congregations grant program has distributed larger grants each year to churches that demonstrate a potential, capacity, and commitment to reach new people, grow in love of God and neighbor, and heal a broken world. Early this year, grants totaling $157,200 were given to 13 churches throughout Minnesota.
But a portion of the funds earmarked annually for such grants remained available for this year, and the Investing in Congregations grant team wanted to encourage churches with smaller, one-time requests to apply for this new type of grant. Small churches don’t always have the capacity to launch a big ministry plan over multiple years, and the team wanted to create an easier process for smaller requests—one that gives more access to more churches.
The 55 applications received in February totaled $130,000 in requested funding—significantly more than the $50,000 available. Many requests were for children and youth ministries.
The 40 micro grants awarded totaled $49,800. A few of them (each totaling $2,500) went to:
• First UMC (Appleton), for the creation of a youth center, a space for senior citizens, and a tutoring center within the community in the hopes of reconnecting the church with these age groups.
• Good Samaritan UMC (St. Peter), to host several community dinners at a local park and to purchase children’s books (with English and Spanish translations) for free little libraries it set up in the park.
• Heritage UMC (New Prague), for a new downtown outreach that will provide coffee, CDs of preaching and worship music, and prayer to downtown passers-by every Saturday morning May-September.
• First United Church (Little Falls), to help launch a community recovery ministry.
• Lamberton UMC, for the purchase of sound equipment for a new contemporary worship service.
“Some people might think that having grant requests exceeding three times the amount available to distribute is a problem,” said Director of Congregational Development Dan Johnson. “I think it’s inspiring! Nearly five dozen churches have dreams for reaching new people in new ways that enabled them to respond with a plan on just a month’s notice. Would that all our churches are so poised to steward the resources with which God constantly surprises us!”
Johnson said it’s very likely that the Investing in Congregations team will offer micro grants again next year.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church