Grants available to help churches achieve God-sized dreams

September 19, 2017

By: Christa Meland

Ninety-two elementary school children live within three blocks of the Wesley UMC in Hibbing, which is also in close proximity to several schools, and yet only one school-aged child attends the church.

With the help of an Acts 2 Investing in Congregations grant from the Minnesota Conference, Wesley UMC will begin an after-school program on Wednesday afternoons that includes religious education, hands-on learning, snacks, homework help, and a family-style meal.

“We plan to use this program as a platform to build a family outreach ministry culminating in a Wednesday evening worship service targeting currently unchurched families in our neighborhood,” said Rev. Andrew Petter. “We hope that our work will bring new persons into our church so that they, too, can become disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Wesley UMC is one of 10 churches across the conference that received a $1,000 grant bring to life ideas that were inspired by the Acts 2 Talks and/or the ideas in the Missional Toolkit for Churches presented at the 2017 Annual Conference.

If you missed out, don’t worry—it’s now time to apply for regular Investing in Congregations grants, which are distributed annually 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. Funding can be used for new ministries, programs, and staff positions. Each year, there is $200,000 in grant money available through the conference’s apportioned budget, and a team of clergy and laity reviews applications and awards funding. Grants have ranged from several hundred dollars to more than $30,000.

Applications for the next round of grants are due by 11:50 p.m. Oct. 15. Interviews are December 2 (in person or remote, as requested by grant committee). Award decisions will be made by December 10, and initial funds will be distributed around mid-January. Read grant guidelines.

Access grant applications:

All applications must be reviewed by each church’s district superintendent. Access form to give superintendent.

To give you some ideas that could serve as inspiration for your church, here’s a brief look at how a few additional churches plan to use their $1,000 Acts 2 grants that were recently awarded:

Christ UMC (Maplewood) will work with a local elementary school to host the 2017 Peace Awards. School staff will talk with students about their ideas of peace and children will vote on which classmate of theirs most embodies a peacemaker. Students will also be invited to submit posters that share—through art, poetry, story, etc.—their understanding of hope and peace. A Peace Awards night will take place at the church.

Beauford UMC is located near the center of several overlapping road construction projects. Anger over delays, detours, and other frustrations are often taken out on the construction workers, who work in all weather conditions and are exposed to serious risks as a normal part of their jobs. The church plans to thank the workers by serving them a meal near their construction sites.

Hilltop UMC (Mankato) will start a three-year adult discipleship program called Connect Academy. Year one will focus on scripture and how to read and study it, year two will focus on leadership development, and year three will focus on teaching a biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic approach to God’s mission to make disciples. The funds will be used to promote and recruit leaders into the academy through scholarships and/or by subsidizing the cost of reading materials and retreats.

Fairmount Avenue UMC (St. Paul) is starting a Wednesday speaker series for adults that will bring in speakers from diverse backgrounds to answer the question, “Why Jesus?” Each evening will begin with worship and end with reflection in small groups. The goal is to attract people from the broader community to engage with the church’s family programs and foster dialogue around central themes of faith. Funds will be used to provide honorariums for speakers and musicians and to market the program.

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 870-0058