Two new church developments and one presbytery will receive Mission Program Grants from the Evangelism and Church Growth ministry area of the General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC). The new grant recipients (listed by synod) selected by the Mission Development Resources Committee of the GAMC are as follows:
First-Level New Church Grant ($25,000 each)
- Beacon, Philadelphia, Pa., Synod of the Trinity, Presbytery of Philadelphia, will minister in a neighborhood divided between the old and the new. Historically and culturally a Catholic neighborhood of multigenerational, hard-working families, the Beacon has become a hot spot for artistic, professional, and mostly irreligious transplants. In 2010 a very small congregation (Beacon Presbyterian Church), its presbytery, and pastoral and lay leaders came together to discern what ministry God might be calling them to. After a year of prayer, they decided it was best to dissolve. They reopened their doors in late 2011 as a neighborhood faith community centered in God’s reconciling love through Jesus. Through open worship and its popular Art Table program, Beacon is inviting people of all ages—newcomers and lifelong residents—to grow through the arts, learning, and faith. They are sharing their stories of buying houses and investing in their neighborhood, of being lifelong residents with intense loyalty and pride, and are beginning to work on meeting specific unmet needs, such as illiteracy and food insecurity, that exist in their neighborhood.
- Tappahannock Presbyterian Church, Tappahannock, Va., Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, Presbytery of the James, will minister to retirees moving into the area. Attracted by the slower pace of life, access to medical care, and location—near the shores of the Rappahannock River—the retirees are active and looking for a church that is friendly, inclusive, and oriented to serving its neighborhoods. For these senior adults who are returning to or discovering faith, Tappahannock will develop Bible studies, annual retreats, and small group programs in spiritual development. The Tappahannock congregation has sponsored grandchildren, children, and friends from both the church and community for a week at Camp Hanover. As a result, Tappahannock sees its pool of children increasing every year and expects to offer regular Sunday school and Vacation Bible School opportunities in the coming years.
Presbytery Grant for Congregational Transformation ($50,000)
- The Presbytery of Stockton in the Synod of the Pacific anticipates all 21 of its congregations will participate in a four-year transformation project, The Great Adventure: Transformation and Growth. During this process, congregations will be equipped to effectively the share the gospel by focusing on (1) loving God and each other, (2) making disciples, and (3) congregational health. Three of the Presbytery of Stockton’s congregations regularly have more than 200 people in worship, multiple services, and a variety of staff, and are located in high population areas. Of the other 18, half have 75–100 at worship; the other half, less than 75. These smaller churches are in rural areas hard hit by the economic crisis. In 2011 Forbes magazine named Stockton the least desirable place to live in the United States due to the steep drop in real estate values there. Churches here have limited staff, many of which serve in part-time calls. In the next five years, the Presbytery of Stockton envisions a vibrant network of churches and new worshiping communties that are helping people better know Jesus Christ, who will radically and irrevocably change their lives.
Mission Program Grants is a ministry of Evangelism and Church Growth in the General Assembly Mission Council of the PC(USA). Please continue to support these ministries expanding the reach of Presbyterian mission through evangelism, discipleship, and transformation efforts.