We don’t often think of ringing in the new year with a church service, but in the Methodist/Wesleyan tradition, that is exactly where people wanted to be! John Wesley and the early Methodists began a tradition of holding a Covenant Service on New Year’s eve, or the day before the new year started. Other communities have similar traditions like Watch Night in the Black church or vigils.
It was expected that, at the beginning of each new year, congregations would renew their covenant with God, often using a traditional Covenant Service. The Covenant prayer is part of this service, prayed together by the congregation as a way of beginning each new year remembering and renewing their baptismal covenant.
The prayer reminds us of what it looks like to follow Jesus, loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Of course, Wesley and the early Methodists also strongly believed that this way of life was only possible in a community centered around the risen Jesus Christ. As you begin this new year, remember and renew your covenant with God and faithfully live as Christ’s representative in the world!
Grace Church Raleigh (AME Zion) received a 2022 Equipping the Local Church Grant. Their vision of engaging the community through GLOW UP, a youth mentoring program and various community outreach events had blossomed! A year after the conclusion of the grant support, their discipleship and evangelism program is still going strong and has even branched out to other areas in the church and community. Crystal Cannon, director of Christian Education at Grace Church Raleigh, shares how the grant made these things possible, and how the church will continue to be a connection to the love and hope of Jesus Christ in their community.
The Foundation for Evangelism is pleased to announce it will open the 2024 Equipping the Local Church grant cycle on January 15. A total of $250,000 is available in 2024 for grants of $5,000 or $10,000 to small and medium* church congregations, or clusters of churches working together, in a Wesleyan-tradition** denomination.
During the 2023 Equipping the Local Church Grant Cycle, 50 grants were awarded totaling $350,000. The projects included a wide range of evangelistic disciple-building in the local church context including:
A community partnership in a housing project focusing on the homeless, children, low-income, veterans and the formerly incarcerated. It is not only meeting physical and social needs, but also offering God’s hope and love through the gifts and strengths of the congregation.
A spiritual care and discipleship program that’s building Christian community at a low-cost housing complex.
Low-barrier entry-points for the church to build relationships with those in their community that may not be comfortable entering a church but want to know more about Jesus.
The grant is intended to help launch an experiment or initiative to share the Gospel, faith stories, and invite others into a relationship with Jesus.
Any church or group of churches fitting the criteria may apply. A total of 20 small church and 15 medium* church grants will be awarded in the summer of 2024.
Information Session: To help clarify the grant criteria and application process, an information session will be held on January 25, 2024 from 2-3 p.m. Eastern. You can register for the session at FoundationforEvangelism.org/apply-for-grant.
Applications open January 15 and will close February 29, 2024.
The Foundation for Evangelism Equipping the Local Church grant initiative seeks to empower pastors and laity in smaller local congregations to dream, take risks, and partner with God in the transformation of lives and communities. These grants are made possible through the generosity of donors, friends, and partners of The Foundation for Evangelism.
For 3/4 of a century, The Foundation for Evangelism has been guided by the believe that The Church is God’s primary vessel for offering abundant life to all creation. Our work focuses on strengthening leaders, laity and congregations to be resilient faith communities sharing the Gospel and inviting others into the Body of Christ. Our work to help the Wesleyan-tradition church retain and act upon its zeal for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ has involved countless hours of resourcing, relationship-building and combined grant awards of more than $17 million. To learn more about our work, visit www.FoundationForEvangelism.org.
*under 250 participants
** We define Wesleyan-tradition as based on the ministry movement begun in the 18th century by John and Charles Wesley. Responding to God’s pursuit of us, all are invited to the lifelong journey to love God and neighbor with their whole heart.
The greatest stories are the ones that we tell others about how God has changed us and continues to equip us to invite those around us to a transformed life through Jesus Christ. That’s why we love sharing the stories of grant impact from the many grants that you help to make possible!
The Mosaic Center received a 2023 Equipping the Local Church Grant to begin a spiritual care and discipleship ministry at Maxwell House, a low-cost housing complex in downtown Augusta. The Mosaic Center is a nonprofit founded by Mosaic Church in Evans, Ga., and they already had an established food distribution ministry, healthcare assistance, financial education and other programs meeting the physical and social needs of the residents of the housing complex. But in talking with residents and volunteers, they began to feel God was calling them to deeper community, growing together in their faith and spirituality and inviting others living in that community. Doors began to open, and when our staff visited at Maxwell House in September, they had a newly renovated, dedicated space for Bible Study and spiritual care groups to meet! Residents and volunteers alike shared how much the grant has jump-started this new initiative, helping to meet spiritual needs in addition to physical and social needs in this community.
Prof. Alma Tinoco Ruiz was first introduced to The Foundation for Evangelism as a Harry Denman Fellow. She now serves as the director of the Hispanic House of Studies, La Casa, at Duke Divinity School. Prof. Tinoco Ruiz shares how the Foundation’s support has helped her and her students explore new ways of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.