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2018 Walton Award winners announced


New worshiping community for skaters in Montana and fast-growing church in Georgia each awarded $50,000

June 13, 2018

Serious JuJu, a new worshiping community for youth and skaters in northwest Montana, and Faith Presbyterian Church of the North Georgia Mountains have been named winners of the 2018 Sam and Helen R. Walton Awards.

The awards are given for excellence in furthering Presbyterian mission as a new worshiping community or former new church development. Here’s a closer look at the two award-winning ministries:

Serious JuJu new worshiping community gathering. (Photo provided)

Serious JuJu (Glacier Presbytery, Synod of the Rocky Mountains)

Located in an urban warehouse, Serious JuJu provides a free indoor skating park for kids in Kalispell, Montana. Every Friday night hungry children, youth and adults are fed, while experiencing shelter, sanctuary and community. Many of JuJu’s 50 to 75 skaters suffer from childhood trauma due to chronic hunger, poverty, neglect, physical and emotional abuse, housing insecurity, family addictions and incarcerations — all compounded by community isolation.

Serious JuJu’s mother congregation, First Presbyterian Church, which pays for half of JuJu pastor Miriam Mauritzen’s salary, is in the midst of renewal because of its relationship with JuJu. First Presbyterian elder and local attorney Tom Esch says, “I used to prosecute skateboarders; now I serve them. JuJu has made me and my church come alive.”

“Serious JuJu has really ministered to these youth,” adds Marsha Anson, general presbyter of Glacier Presbytery. “In skateboarding, apparently if you are doing a trick on a ramp and it’s going well that’s ‘good juju.’ And if you fall, that’s ‘bad juju.’ But Jesus is ‘serious juju!’”

Serious JuJu will use the Walton Award to pay for rent or to purchase a larger warehouse.

Faith Presbyterian Church members assemble for a 2017 Pentecost photo. (Photo provided)

Faith Presbyterian Church in North Georgia Mountains (Cherokee Presbytery, Synod of South Atlantic)

Faith Presbyterian Church started as a new church development with eight people in Blue Ridge, Georgia, in 2000. Four years later they became a PC(USA) charter congregation. For seven years they held worship services in numerous rented locations, before finding a permanent rental home in 2011. Since then, Faith has doubled its membership, from 59 to 118, making Faith the fastest-growing congregation in the presbytery. Many of Faith’s members are semi-retired or fully retired members who have leadership roles in several nonprofit organizations.

Faith’s members take lunch to students in need during summer vacation and assist in the community’s Snack in the Backpack program, which goes to every school in the county, for children who need nutrition on the weekends. The church supports two shelters — one for battered women and children and another for girls who have been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services — and a day program for adults with severe disabilities. Faith also tends to a summer garden. The harvest is given to a local food bank.

Faith will use the Walton Award to help construct a church on recently purchased land — as their rented home can no longer accommodate their fast-growing congregation.

Each Walton winner was nominated by the Mission Development Resource Committee. The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board endorsed those recommendations at its meeting in Cincinnati, April 25–27.

The Walton awards were established in 1991 as part of a $6 million gift from the late Sam and Helen R. Walton through the Presbyterian Foundation. The gift included an endowment of $3 million. The earned interest is to be used by winning worshiping communities and congregations for site acquisitions and capital improvements.

Tim McCallister, associate of Mission Program Grants and racial-ethnic schools and colleges for Presbyterian Mission, is grateful to be a part of giving out Walton Awards because he sees how they can take pressure off communities like Serious JuJu and Faith Presbyterian.

“Money they would’ve used for rent or mortgage expense or land acquisition can be put back into their ministry,” he says.

“Giving the opportunity to help even more people, it’s personal to me. My son got into the skater crowd — who had drug, alcohol and legal issues. It would’ve been great to have a community like JuJu help guide my son into making better decisions.”

 Paul Seebeck, Mission Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  2018 Walton Award Winners

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Creston Parker, PAM
Michael Parker, PMA

Let us pray:

God, how grateful we are for the creative presence of your Spirit. Continue to breathe life into all of us; send us into our neighborhoods and communities in service, so that the world you love might bless your name. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 96; 147:1-11
First Reading Ecclesiastes 9:11-18
Second Reading Galatians 5:1-15
Gospel Reading Matthew 16:1-12
Evening Psalms 132; 134

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