An Impact Story 12 Years in the Making

By Jane Boatwright Wood

In 2009, I watched Jorge Acevedo, lead pastor for Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida, accept the Distinguished Evangelist Award from the Foundation. That day, Jorge talked about his vision for the impact one local church could have when its leaders – pastors and laity – worked together as a team to create a culture of invitation, disciple-making, and transformation through social holiness.

Throughout the ensuing years, my path crossed with Jorge many times. Our Foundation board met at Jorge’s church to experience their approach to Equipping the Local Church firsthand. I lost count of the times Jorge joked that he was just “minding his own business,” leading Grace UMC when the Foundation recognized him as an inspirational, evangelistic leader. He might even let me say that we were a catalyst to launch his years of coaching, writing, and training. I cherish the expertise Jorge shared with me in these intervening years, and I believe the church has benefited as well.

Most recently, the connection with Jorge and fellow professor/theologian, Michael Beck, led to the Foundation writing a Raising Up Gospel Leaders grant to United Theological Seminary (UTS). Supplementing startup funds from the Lilly Endowment, our grant allowed UTS to launch certificate and laity programming in the Fresh Expressions House of Studies simultaneously with its master and doctoral programs.

Our grant was a catalyst. How do we know? Here’s an excerpt from the UTS spring 2022 grant report:

“Thanks to your generosity, the Fresh Expressions House of Studies launched their first Adventurers Leadership Academy (ALA) in August 2021 with a virtual orientation. We have 37 adventurers from four different states for this first multi-conference academy. Our initial plan had us reaching this
registration level by 2024.”

UTS Spring 2022 Grant Report

Our staff recently presented an award recognizing the innovative, evangelistic ministry of the Florida Conference Fresh Expressions Team – including Jorge and Michael among the innovators.

This story is 12 years in the making, impacting various ministry approaches and geographic settings. It is one of my Catalyst stories, and it
is far from over.

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