The Mission Development Resources Committee of the Presbyterian Mission Agency has approved funding for almost 40 grants specifically designed to develop and grow new and existing 1001 New Worshiping Communities across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
This month, 24 Seed Grants will be distributed to new worshiping communities. The grant provides an initial $7,500 to help start a 1001 New Worshiping Community. Funds are intended to support operating and program expenses for these communities during the first year of ministry.
After a year, the ministry can apply for additional Investment Grant support of up to $25,000. These one-time grants provide continued support for new worshiping communities over the next 18 months, and help support operating and program expenses as these communities continue grow. Investment Grants usually require a dollar-for-dollar match provided by the combined contributions of the partner congregation, presbytery and/or synod.
One proposal received a Presbytery Grant for Congregational Transformation. This is a one-time grant of up to $50,000 in support of presbytery efforts to build the capacity and framework to encourage and enable continual congregational transformation.
The Office of Mission Program Grants made 37 awards during this grant cycle. A total of 24 seed grants were given, and 12 investment grants were awarded and one for presbytery-level congregational transformation.
Alzare mis Ojos, a new worshiping community in Puerto Rico, received one of the investment grants. This worshiping community is providing ongoing ministry to the homeless population in the Old San Juan area, while also working closely with government offices—including the governor of Puerto Rico—to help meet the needs of the local community.
“About a year ago, the Hugh O’Neill Church session began reviewing ways to expand ministry in Old San Juan,” says the Rev. Dr. Luis Jose Ocasio Torres, the leader of Alzare mis Ojos. “We focused our attention on the ongoing work with the homeless and explored ways we could meet our community where they already were. Since the beginning, we’ve seen growth and success in our work. We generally see close to 100 attendees on a regular basis, and have begun to build solid relationships with the large numbers of government workers who surround our church. It’s been a real blessing.”
The members of Alzare mis Ojos bring a variety of gifts and talents to the group that they then share with the surrounding community.
“Among our participants of the homeless ministry, for example, we have painters, handymen, plumbers and electricians,” says Torres. “We have retired teachers and psychologists, those who specialize in working with the elderly, etc. We’re blessed to also have access to a variety of other professionals through the support and partnership we have with the presbytery. Thanks in large part to that support, coupled with the financial support from the national office of the church, our reach extends much farther than we could have imagined.”
“These funds allow us to give continuity and to establish, on a regular basis, the work that has been carried out to date,” he continues. “Our focus is now on more detailed administration of programs, working to make sure that they are specifically tailored to meet the particular needs of our community. We believe we are on the threshold of integrating to a much fuller extent the different communities around us, including the homeless in our community, our Presbyterian congregation, other community resource groups and organizations and an interdenominational government office programs, etc.”
“We have learned so much, but above all we’ve realized that there is still so much work to do,” Torres concludes. “The soil is ready to develop new venues and alternative programs, and our hope is that the funds received from this grant will provide the necessary financial resources to carry this out and compliment the enthusiasm being generated by this work.”
The Office of Mission Program Grants is housed in Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries. The purpose of the office, in conjunction with the Mission Development Resources Committee, is to respond faithfully to the grant needs of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Mission Development Resources Committee is the Presbyterian Mission Agency committee that is responsible for allocating funding to projects and the development of policies and procedures for the Mission Program Grant Programs. To learn about the Office of Mission Program Grants, visit pcusa.org/missionprogramgrants.
To learn about Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries and ways you or your congregation can support the development of racial ethnic and new immigrant leaders or new immigrant worshiping communities, visit pcusa.org/racialethnic.