Eight receive first time ‘Seed Grants,’ leaving those working to start new worshiping communities optimistic
by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — In its final grant cycle for 2021, on behalf of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Mission Development Resources Committee awarded 18 Mission Program Grants to worshiping communities — including eight to those just getting started.
The Rev. Nikki Collins, 1001 New Worshiping Communities Coordinator, is encouraged by the latest grant cycle. It brings the number of new communities funded in 2021 to 45.
“A typical year around 50 new communities are funded,” she said. “The Spirit’s work has not stopped. God is still doing new things among us, in spite of the unknowns and challenges around us.”
According to Tim McCallister, coordinator for Mission Program Grants, the proposals he saw in the final cycle of 2021 reflected how well PC(USA) mid councils are coping with maneuvering during these past two pandemic years.
“Their flexibility and adaptability in seeking fund for these new ministries is remarkable to see,” he said. “I’m actually optimistic about 2022.”
Below are the worshiping community recipients of Mission Program Grants, including the presbytery and synod they belong to and a brief description of their mission.
$10,000 Seed Grants support first year of NWC ministry
- CARE Merced is in the midst of a probe on behalf of the Presbytery of San Joaquin and the Synod of the Pacific, which is providing $30,000 for the PC(USA) to establish its first ministry in Merced, California. The primary need in Merced County is for a faith community to invest in people’s mental and spiritual health, particularly for local immigrant and migrant communities who are underserved by the medical community.
- Community Garden (Presbytery of Utica, Synod of the Northeast) in Little Falls, New York) began as a project of First Presbyterian Church and the Little Falls Community Outreach to provide fresh food for children and their families. But many who have felt marginalized by their church experience in the past have joined the Community Garden in their worship and work.
- Spirit of Sophia (Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky, Synod of Living Waters) in Louisville, Kentucky, offers ministries of healing in the lives of women. Centered in the Spirit of Christ, leader Dana Sue Walker offers interfaith space that incorporates teaching and insights from a wide range of religions, providing hope for women in the present moment.
- TBD Community (Presbytery of New York City, Synod of the Northeast) began during COVID-19 when Rebecca Stevens-Walter began offering ‘A Moment of Hope and…” consisting of three songs and a brief prayer on YouTube. Encouraged by the response, Stevens-Walters reached out to First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, New York. Through this partnership, she offers additional weekly events via YouTube.
- Temecula Valley Arabic Presbyterian Church (Presbytery of Riverside, Synod of Southern California and Hawaii) provides space where Arabic-speaking immigrants in Temecula, California, can worship in the language of their hearts.
- The Psalm (Presbytery of Denver, Synod of the Rocky Mountains) in Aurora, Colorado, is reaching out to second generation Korean and Asian Americans from True Light Community Church, which serves their parents and grandparents. The Psalm’s emphasis is to grow a vibrant community for those who grew up in American culture and speak English in the ways of following Jesus.
- UKirk in Columbia, Missouri (Missouri Union Presbytery, Synod of Mid-America) is a relaunch of a campus ministry. This relaunch came after a staff member at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia who had been leading the campus ministry resigned in 2021. New leader Sam Kennedy hopes to bear witness to the gospel in the growing artistic and gaming communities on campus.
- Wellspring Church (Presbytery of San Joaquin, Synod of the Pacific) in Bakersfield, California, started as a Methodist church plant three years ago. Wellspring grew to 50 families, but when their pastor left right before the pandemic, the United Methodist Church eventually dissolved the church plant. The remaining remnant reached out to the presbytery, which will be working with Wellspring to help it reboot and begin a new PC(USA) faith community.
$30,000 Investment Grants support next 18-months of NWC ministry (after first year Seed Grant)
- Farmstead Eight (Heartland Presbytery, Synod of Mid-America) is a large community organization in Olathe, Kansas that includes The Harvest Table as its worshiping community. The Farmstead is creating space for the larger community to engage and grow in relationships by caring for the eight acres of land that make up the center of the community.
- The HUB (Eastminster Presbytery, Synod of the Covenant) in Columbiana, Ohio, invited 20 individuals to gather as the core group in September 2020. They were Protestant, Catholic, agnostic and those who had no religious affiliation. Half of the individuals agreed to gather with HUB co-leaders for at least two years to confront bias and bring healing by hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ in fresh ways.
- Labyrinth Café (Presbytery of South Louisiana, Synod of the Sun) is a ministry on the Tulane University It is the only college ministry in the city that is affirming of LGBTQIA+ students.
- Parkville Living Center (Heartland Presbytery, Synod of Mid-America) utilizes local government and business to meet physical needs of those participating in their NWC. An example of this: an elderly man in Parkville, Missouri, with developmental disabilities took a fall in his apartment. The man called Parkville Living Center. Leader Marcus Flores called emergency medical services to ensure his immediate health and safety. PLC then helped him secure medical coverage, disability status and ongoing disability support. He is now participating the in the life of the community.
- ReFrame (Presbytery of Denver, Synod of the Rocky Mountains) ministry is built around the use of an app by those not attending church. ReFrame is now testing to see how many people are completing the app’s daily discipleship prompts, with a vision for creating community with app users in the future. To become financially sustainable, ReFrame plans to license the app to churches for use in supplementing their online ministries.
$30,000 Growth Grants support NWCs working to become chartered PC(USA) congregations
- Casa de Dios Orosi (Presbytery of San Joaquin, Synod of the Pacific) reaches Hispanics in a farming community in California southeast of Fresno and northwest of Visalia. During the pandemic the community has held its services and Bible studies online. It also opened a food pantry ministry before it was closed due to COVID restrictions.
- Church in the Park (Presbytery of Santa Barbara, Synod of Southern California and Hawaii) serves lower income and marginalized populations in Santa Paula, California. During the pandemic, CITP worshiped on the lawn of partner congregation, First Presbyterian Church of Santa Paula.
- Church on Main (New Castle Presbytery, Synod of the Mid-Atlantic) engages people in Middletown, Delaware, who have not been to church in decades. Others left their church home due to sexual or gender identity. Church on Main baptized two teen siblings earlier this year. Its new pastor, the Brooke A. Scott, and the leadership team, are exploring ways to make their building rental accessible to their partner organizations.
- Neema African Presbyterian Fellowship (Presbytery of Denver, Synod of the Rocky Mountains) is a ministry among Africans and refugees in the Denver area. Housed at Aurora First Presbyterian Church, Neema’s next priority is to become a chartered congregation in the PC(USA).
- Shalom International Ministry (Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, Synod of South Atlantic) began when African students from a local seminary regularly visited Clarkston, Georgia, to participate in the life of the most diverse square mile in the country. At first the students met for Bible study and fellowship to meet the needs of the new immigrants. Now some 40 families from 13 countries gather for weekly worship. Influenced by Shalom’s children ministries, many young adults have graduated from college and are now shaping the ministry though their own gifts of leadership.
Mission Program Grants are made available through the Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The grants support the transforming work of new worshiping communities and mid councils.
You may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.
Categories: Gifts & Financial Support, Racial Justice, Worshiping Communities
Tags: 1001 new worshiping communities, care merced, casa de dios orosi, church in the park, church on main, community garden, farmstead eight, labyrinth cafe, Mission Program Grants, Neema African Presbyterian Fellowship, parkville living center, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, reframe, rev. nikki collins, Shalom International Ministry, spirit of sophia, tbd community, Temecula Valley Arabic Presbyterian Church, the hub, the psalm, Tim McCallister, ukirk in columbia missouri, wellspring church
Ministries: 1001 New Worshiping Communities, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, Gender, Racial and Intercultural Justice