At its February meeting, The Episcopal Church Executive Council approved grants totaling $242,000 for new church starts and missional communities.
Resolutions A005 and A032 approved by General Convention in 2018 authorized the Task Force on Church Planting and Congregational Redevelopment to solicit and recommend grants for new and continued funding for new worshipping communities and missional enterprise ventures throughout The Episcopal Church. The resolutions particularly call on these new communities to connect with under-represented groups, including youth and young adults, differently abled persons, people identifying as members of LGBTQIA+ communities, people of color, poor and working-class people, people with a high-school diploma or less, and/or people with little or no church background or involvement.
“With this second round of grant funding, we are delighted to propel the Jesus Movement forward as we empower lay and clergy leaders to meet new neighbors and welcome new perspectives in the communities they serve,” said the Rev. Canon Janet Waggoner, who co-chairs the Task Force with the Rt. Rev. Allen Shin.
Waggoner reports that of the 21 applications, the Task Force recommended and Executive Council approved full or partial funding of 15. The Task Force will offer feedback to the ministries that did not receive funding during this second round, but who could be eligible in later rounds during the three-year funding cycle. She also noted that recipients engage in a covenant conversation with the Task Force prior to any grant funds being disbursed. This conversation includes the point leader for the new ministry as well as the bishop and diocesan fiscal agent. It is a time to discuss expectations for the new ministry, resources and support, and methods for mutual accountability between the ministry developer and the diocese.
“Each grant application, funded or not, teaches us more about the 21st century contexts in which we are all serving. Church planting is a response to the Holy Spirit’s call to engage more fully with the communities around us,” said the Rev. Katie Nakamura Rengers, staff officer for Church Planting for The Episcopal Church.
The 15 initiatives approved include seven discernment grants, five seed grants, and three growth grants. The initiatives are listed below, by category.
One-time discernment grants fund initiatives in discernment for a new project start and may fund assessment, research, and feasibility studies. The maximum award in this category is $5,000. The following applicants were awarded discernment grants, totaling $32,000:
- Beloved in the Desert (Episcopal Diocese of Arizona) - $5,000
- Community Outreach Center (Episcopal Diocese of Central Gulf Coast) - $5,000
- Edible Hope (Episcopal Diocese of Olympia) - $5,000
- Gathering on Main Street (Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth) - $5,000
- Green Church (Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts) - $2,000
- Halau Wa’a (Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii) - $5,000
- Micah (Episcopal Diocese of Virginia) - $5,000
One-time seed grants fund initiatives that have gone through project discernment, including assessment and coaching. The maximum award in this category is $30,000. The following applicants were awarded seed grants, totaling $120,000:
- Holy Family HTX (Episcopal Diocese of Texas) - $10,000
- New Hope Church (Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio) - $30,000
- Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church (Episcopal Diocese of New York) - $30,000
- San Joaquin Latino Ministry (Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin) - $30,000
- Wild Church UP (Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan) - $20,000
Growth grants fund initiatives that have gone through project discernment, including assessment and coaching and have demonstrated real progress in completing the process set forth in their ministry plan. These grants require significant and appropriate support from the local diocese. The maximum award in this category is $30,000. The following applicants were awarded growth grants, totaling $90,000:
- Episcopal Church of the Epiphany (Episcopal Diocese of Georgia) - $30,000
- Grovetown Mission (Episcopal Diocese of Georgia) - $30,000
- Warrior Church (Episcopal Diocese of Texas) - $30,000
Harvest grants fund initiatives at least two years into their project. These initiatives have gone through project discernment, including assessment and coaching and have demonstrated real progress in completing the process set forth in their Ministry Plan and have a plan towards sustainability. These grants require significant and appropriate support from the local diocese. The maximum award in this category is $40,000. There were no harvest grants awarded in this round.