Five new church developments have been named winners of the 2011 Sam and Helen R. Walton Awards. Each recipient church ministry will receive $40,000. The winning churches are in California, North Carolina, and Georgia.

The 2011 Walton Award recipients are:

  • Covenant Fellowship Presbyterian Church (Santa Rosa, Calif.), is growing spiritually, and has added thirty-nine new members in the last three years, with eight adults being baptized.  Worship attendance, membership, Christian education enrollment, and annual congregational giving are at all-time highs.
  • Temecula Valley Korean Presbyterian Church (Wildomar, Calif.), has grown from a few members to 300 in less than a decade. Offering Korean language school in their community has been a great ministry outreach to second-generation Korean parents who want to teach their children to understand the importance of their identity as Korean Americans.
  • Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church (Chapel Hill, N.C.), is committed to intentional, inclusive, welcoming joyful worship as a Christian witness in their community to God’s grace given to all people through Jesus Christ.
  • Misión Hispana El Buen Pastor (Winston-Salem, N.C.) is one of the fastest growing new church developments in the country–more than 140 adults and 160 children are in regular worship. El Buen Pastor is a model for how to start a community of faith for a new immigrant population struggling with economic and education issues.
  •  Grace Presbyterian Church (Dawsonville, Ga.), planted to reach a growing population not served or affiliated with any faith community, has grown from a handful of people to 126 members.

Each winning congregation was selected for their work in furthering Presbyterian mission in their communities by the Mission Development Resource Committee. The executive committee of the General Assembly Mission Council endorsed the committee’s recommendations.

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.  This gift included an endowment of $3 million. The earned interest is to be used by outstanding new church developments for site acquisition and capital improvements.

Since 1993, there have been 101 Walton Awards totaling $4.11 million presented to exemplary new church developments across sixty-six presbyteries in all sixteen Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) synods.  

For more information contact Mission Program Grants, a ministry of Evangelism and Church Growth in the PC(USA).

More on this year’s recipients from information received by the selection committee from the churches:

A man speaks in front of a crowd in front of a screen projection with the title, "Reality Byte".

Members/friends at Covenant Fellowship growing in their experience of God, growing disciples through worship, bible study and mission.—Photo courtesy of Covenant Fellowship Presbyterian Church

Covenant Fellowship Presbyterian Church, Santa Rosa, Calif. (Synod of the Pacific, Redwoods Presbytery) is growing spiritually as it supports both the congregation and community with: (1) vibrant worship, (2) a clear path of discipleship, (3) comprehensive children’s ministries, (4) youth ministries centered in Jesus and service, (5) a meaningful sense of community, and (6) focused, effective mission efforts. The average worship attendance is 110, membership is 140, Christian education enrollment is 54 (pre-school through sixth grade), and annual congregational giving reached an all-time high in 2010. After moving three times, since 2002, Covenant’s congregation is now renovating a 10,000-sq.ft.building on over four acres of property to become a high-visibility cornerstone of the community. The Walton Award will be instrumental in paying for the building and the construction costs associated with the renovation.

Temecula Valley Korean Presbyterian Church, Wildomar, Calif. (Synod of Southern California & Hawaii, Riverside Presbytery) started with just a few members a little less than a decade ago and now has 300 in membership. Currently, there are plans for two major teaching hospitals to open in the area, and they are expected to hire many second-generation Korean health care professionals who are likely to move into this area. Due to the increase in membership, Temecula Valley is steadily outgrowing its space at the Mountain View Community Church building. The Walton Award will be used to acquire a church site later this year.

A man and two women holding shovels in a forest with other people.

Recent ground breaking ceremony for Chapel in Pines –future site of first church building designed with ‘green’ technologies for sustainable construction. —Photo courtesy of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church

Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church, Chapel Hill, N.C. (Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, Salem Presbytery) acknowledges the human need for God’s grace and love by extending a warm welcome to all people into a community of faith. Their aim, since 2006, is to worship with joyful gratitude for God’s unending, abiding grace given to all people through Jesus Christ; and to witness, through gifts of time, talents, intentional inclusiveness, and financial resources, the love of Christ for all.  The Walton Award will be used to offset construction costs for their first church building, which was designed with “green” technologies for sustainable construction to minimize the environmental impact and maximize the building’s economic, health, and community benefits.

Misión Hispana El Buen Pastor, Winston-Salem, N.C. (Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, Salem Presbytery) is a model for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on how to start a church for a new immigrant population, struggling with economic and education issues, creatively showing the wider church how to nurture those without a safety net into a community of faith.  This fast growing new church development, which began in 2007, has 140 adults and 160 children in regular worship.  More than 125 volunteers in the community are involved in an after-school tutoring program serving 120 children. El Buen Pastor’s outreach also includes classes in parenting, ESL, basic computer skills, reading, math, and Spanish literacy. New believers continue to share with others how their lives are being changed by this community that is safe and that is giving them the opportunity to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. The church will use funds from the Walton Award to resurface the parking area and replace the church roof.

Grace Presbyterian Church Dawsonville, Ga. (Synod of South Atlantic, Cherokee Presbytery) began in an old church building, in 2005, purchased by the Tri-Presbytery New Church Development Commission, which represents the Greater Atlanta, Cherokee, and Northeast Georgia presbyteries. The first ever Presbyterian church in Dawson County, Georgia, Grace has grown from a handful to a congregation of 126 people of all ages and from churched, un-churched, Presbyterian, and various other background, including those hurt or disillusioned by previous church experience. Grace’s new, free medical clinic serves nearly 200 patients who are uninsured and have no access to other medical assistance, and the church expects to provide dental care soon. Its ministries are staffed by volunteers from the congregation. Grace Presbyterian will use the Walton Award to pay down its current mortgage, thereby freeing other funds for much-needed energy-conserving improvements, and to repair a drainage problem that has been damaging its property.