General Board of Church & Society grants split among seven programs in four Annual Conferences, one in Philippines and two General Church initiatives.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—This spring, directors of the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) have awarded $130,728 in Ethnic Local Church grants.
The Ethnic Local Church Grants program exists to strengthen congregations through education, advocacy, or leadership development for social-justice engagement. Grants are awarded twice each year.
The $130,728 was split among seven programs in two U.S. jurisdictions, one Central Conference overseas, and two General Church initiatives. Four Annual Conferences in the United States and one in the Philippines received grants. The remainder has been allotted to Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century and GBCS multi-racial mercy-to-justice mentoring consultations across the denomination.
Grants go to a wide variety of ministries, such as a multi-congregation community-organizing program to improve access to quality education in Florida, assisting vulnerable indigenous ethnic groups in the Philippines, and improving literacy rates among Hispanic/Latino residents in Louisiana.
Elementary Reading Equality Initiative
Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice (BOLD Justice), a ministry of the Florida Conference, was awarded $10,000 to build on the work of eight United Methodist multi-congregation churches eager to do community organizing among African, Afro-Caribbean, and Haitian United Methodists in Broward County.
The initiative led by St. John's UMC, in the heart of Fort Lauderdale and Miramar UMC in the Southern part of the county, began in October 2010. The congregations identified the low graduation rate among their youths, and lack of access to quality education in Broward County: 23% of the elementary schools have less than 55% of their children reading at grade level; and while 58% of white males graduate from high school, only 39% of black males graduate.
The $10,000 GBCS grant will support community-organizing summits for several hundred members from across school districts to advocate and organize for change.
Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, an initiative of The United Methodist Church, received $12,000 to support its commitment to nurture and sustain a national network of coaching among African-American congregations. Collaborative Coaching aims to recruit and retain, and to model and mentor black church leadership.
A focus of this funding is coaching congregations concerned about the high rate of incarceration of African-American men. GBCS funding will support work in 21 Conferences: Alabama-West Florida, Florida, North Alabama, California-Pacific, West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas, Central Texas, North Texas, Illinois Great Rivers, Northern Illinois, Pennsylvania-Delaware, Eastern Pennsylvania, North Georgia, East Ohio, West Ohio, Greater New Jersey, Detroit, Tennessee, and Baltimore-Washington.
Indigenous Community Ministries
BAYAN Ni HESUS, Pamayanan ng Katutubo (Indigenous Community Ministries) works alongside the southern Tagalog Provisional Annual Conference of the East Philippines Central Conference. Mercy ministries are crucial to the majority of the ethnic or indigenous communities of the Aetas in the town of Lopez, and the Dungats in the Northern Quezon Province. Churches provide food, donated clothing, free dental services, and free medical care for these vulnerable communities.
This project aims to partner with the indigenous groups to develop their own self-sustaining and self-reliant ethnic communities – teaching models of collaborative leadership, advocating for housing, access to clean water, and space to study their own culture.
GBCS funding of $9,728 will make possible Bible study in their own language, economic development, cultural knowledge, and land rehabilitation through legislative advocacy.
Hispanic/Latino Center for Educational Development
Louisiana Conference recognizes that the growing Latino population in the New Orleans area brings a rich diversity, but the educational achievement of Latinos lags well behind the national average. GBCS funding of $10,000 will support Seed Hispanic/Latino Center for Educational Development as it responds to low rates of college attendance and even lower rates of high school graduation.
The Seed's sole goal is acceleration of educational opportunity through Plazas Communitarias, which advocates for adult education and college readiness, and builds a capacity to navigate the local immigration system.
Umoja Gardens Kids' Project
Community Youth Outreach (CYO) is a part of the Oklahoma Conference. Umoja (Swahili for "unity") works with children 6-12 years old in the northeast neighborhoods of Oklahoma City where there is access to only one grocery store. By comparison, northwest Oklahoma City has access to more than 50 grocery stores.
GBCS funding of $4,000 invests in Umoja's capacity to use gardening as a tool to connect health and education with organic gardening, education on care for the environment, and strategies that address the realities of living in a food desert.
Mi Familia Center
Mi Familia Center of the North Georgia Conference is a migrant-empowerment ministry. It sponsors two programs: Latinos Excelling in Education (LEE) and Latinos Empowered to Act & Dream (LEAD). The $10,000 grant from GBCS is to build on work providing health education, and tax and court-related support to new immigrants in the Atlanta Roswell District.
The ministry is seen and felt, emphasizes the Rev. Ed Tomlinson, superintendent for the Atlanta Roswell District, because Mi Familia serves hundreds of migrants. Mi Familia partners with students and faculty at Reinhardt University to address immigrant needs and identify assets they bring to the community. It also partners with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.
Multi-racial Mercy-to-Justice Mentoring Consultations
Multi-racial Mercy-to-Justice Mentoring Consultations is a new initiative of the General Board of Church & Society. The consultations will focus on developing effective leaders within U.S. Annual Conferences to make connections between mercy and justice ministries.
A grant of $75,000 will be used to fund mini-grants at district and Conference levels to recruit persons to create multi-racial mercy-to-justice mentoring teams.
Ethnic Local Church Grants
More information about (and applications for) Ethnic Local Church Grants are available on the General Board of Church & Society's website at GBCS Grants. Or contact the Rev. Neal Christie, GBCS assistant general secretary, Education & Leadership Formation, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.488.5611.
The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. The board's primary responsibility is to seek implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference, the denomination's highest policy-making body. The board's primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.