Three worshiping communities have been named winners of the 2015 Sam and Helen R. Walton Award—for their excellence as new church starts in their local communities. The winning communities will each receive $35,000.
1) Camino de Vida in Albuquerque, N.M., began as a new church start in 2009 with a pastor’s family and a family from Puerto Rico as congregants. From those humble beginnings, the congregation has grown to 170 people—having added 39 congregants in the past two years. With an influx of young Latino families in the area, Camino expects to double in size in the next five years. Currently they serve 62 children and youth—from infants to college age. Since 2011 Camino has distributed 42,000 pounds of food to approximately 850 families per year. Camino members are Guatemalan, Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, El Salvadoran, and U.S. Hispanic. Located in the Presbytery of Santa Fe, Camino will use the Walton Award to provide classroom space for their vibrant, growing community of faith.
2) Northland Village Church is located in northeast Los Angeles, in one of the most post-Christian sections of America. In just under five years of work, Northland Village has become the largest Protestant church in Atwater Village. Recently, seven of nine new members joining the church were people of color, better aligning the church’s ethnic ratio with that in their neighborhood. Over the past two years Northland has helped start five new worshiping communities (see July 2014 Presbyterians Today article). Located in the Presbytery of San Fernando, Northland will use the Walton Award money to pay rent—and enhance their worship space in ways that allow them to better connect and participate with God in their neighborhood.
3) The Fellowship Place, a predominately African American worshiping community, is engaged in evangelism work in the West Mecklenburg Corridor of Charlotte, N.C. In partnership with the city of Charlotte and a local elementary school, the Fellowship Place provides backpacks of food for homeless children in their neighborhood. Through its social justice work, Bible studies, and small group ministry work, the Fellowship Place grew from 59 to 79 members in 2014. They also had more than 200 visitors join them for Sunday morning worship—with 16 becoming new members. Located in the Presbytery of Charlotte, the Fellowship Place will use the Walton Award to pay rent and to update and secure stable worship space, which they believe, will allow their ministries to flourish.
The Walton Award winners were selected by the Mission Development Resources Committee and the Presbyterian Mission Agency endorsed the committee’s recommendation at their most recent meeting on June 25, 2015.
The Walton Awards were established in 1991 as part of a $6 million gift from the late Sam & Helen R. Walton through the Presbyterian Foundation. The gift included an endowment of $3 million. The interest earned on the endowment is granted to outstanding new church starts for site acquisition and capital improvements.