Grants encourage new ways of doing ministry and/or dismantling structural racism
January 7, 2021
As the reality of COVID-19 set in, it forced the postponement of the UKirk Collegiate Ministries Association’s national gathering until this year.
Stephanie Fritz, associate coordinator for Christian Formation, asked the UKirk national board to consider tangible ways to inspire, support and equip network ministries from around the country during the pandemic.
In March 2020, college ministers had to pivot their ministries from in-person to online with virtually no notice, as students were sent home in the middle of the semester, explained the Rev. Virginia “Gini” Norris-Lane, executive director of UKirk Collegiate Ministries. “As the pandemic continues to affect all of our colleges and universities, ministries find they are having to adjust in new ways, including determining how to invite and integrate new students into virtual programs, and navigating reopening guidelines that are different from institution to institution.
“We quickly realized that small ‘pivot’ grants could offer some financial support and encouragement to ministries this fall, which would allow them to dream and invest in new ways in their ministry and justice work,” Norris-Lane said.
The PC(USA)’s Office of Christian Formation worked with Financial Aid for Service to reallocate some funds previously earmarked for 2020’s postponed UKirk national gathering to create the new pivot grant program.
UKirk-registered ministries can apply for $500 pivot grants. These funds can be used to help campus ministries “pivot” to new ways of doing ministry and/or dismantling structural racism. Grants will be awarded monthly as funds remain available. Submissions received by the first of the month will be read for selection by the 15th of the month. For more information about this program and how to become a UKirk-registered ministry, contact Fritz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Todd Salmi, college minister, recently shared a COVID-19 pivot story from the United Campus Ministry at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. With a required move out of their dorms, Texas State students had to shift to online classes while managing the isolation of social distancing. United Campus Ministry put together 50 Prayer and Care Packages, including school supplies, snacks, photos of friends at campus ministry events, and personal prayers and notes of encouragement.
“For graduating seniors,” Salmi said, “a special package included a study Bible and honor cord for graduation regalia.” The majority of packages were mailed to students at home across Texas, but Salmi delivered the local packages while social distancing.
The UKirk Pivot Grant is one of several grants administered by Financial Aid for Service and available to Presbyterian-related colleges and universities. The Teaching the Bible Grant was offered for the remainder of 2020 with a reduced award amount and an appeal to related schools to write about being a Presbyterian-related institution during a pandemic, and through a social justice inflection point.
“Our goal is — always — to promote teaching the Bible and religion at related schools. This year, we also want to build a record,” said Laura Bryan, coordinator of Financial Aid for Service. “We are living a moment in history right now. What does it mean to be a Presbyterian institution — to teach, to form community, to plan for the future — in such a time as this? This will be the focus of Teaching the Bible Grant for the rest of this year.”
For more information on available grant programs, contact email@example.com.
Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Mission Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: UKirk Grants
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
Dear Lord, you offer peace to those who come from afar. May the church hear your voice calling us to build community among all people, so that in Jesus Christ we are no longer strangers but members of the household of God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.