Churches Led by Sibling Pastors Build Intercultural Community Fueled by Foundation Support

L-R: Rev. Kiboko I. Kiboko and Dr. J. Kabamba Kiboko

Two pastors in different U.S. states – siblings who grew up in The Congo Central Conference of the United Methodist Church – have a connection to the Foundation for Evangelism through evangelistic ministry recognition and grant support. The churches they pastor are building evangelistic intercultural ministry that are reaching out and inviting their communities into relationship with Jesus Christ.

Dr. J. Kabamba Kiboko, the first woman ordained in the Southern Congo Conference of the UMC, pastors Forest Chapel United Methodist Church in the City of Forest Park, Cincinnati, Ohio. The church’s mission is “to live in Christ and make disciples of Christ for the transformation of our community, our world,” and they seek to be an all-inclusive, accepting, welcoming and outreaching church. The fruit of that work has been recognized by the denomination twice now through the awarding of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award, a national award sponsored by The Foundation for Evangelism.

Dr. Kabamba received the Harry Denman Evangelism award from the West Ohio Conference in 2015. Then, in 2022, the church she pastored, Forest Chapel UMC, nominated 16-year-old Saugath Chhetri for the Harry Denman Evangelism Youth Award for sharing his faith and his love with other people (see his video on YouTube). From Nepal, Saugath and his family were part of the Hindu religion before converting to Christianity and becoming members of Forest Chapel. Saugath is very active in the church’s ministries, primarily in the Bethlehem Bhutanese Ministry (BBM), a ministry initiative that reaches out to the Nepali speaking community surrounding Forest Chapel and internationally in Nepal, Bhutan, and Ludhiana, India. This ministry conducts worship services in the Nepali language and English, and hosts bible studies for this community. On December 17, 2023, they held their first fully bilingual worship service!  

Coats for Kids event at Forest Chapel UMC

Minister Lasang Ghising (Leader of the BBM Ministry at Forest Church) said this of Saugath’s devotion to ministry, “We are so blessed to have him [Saugath] in our BBM Ministry under our Forest Chapel United Methodist Church. His leadership and witness strengthen us.” 

In 2023, Forest Chapel United Methodist Church was also the recipient of an Equipping the Local Church grant from The Foundation for Evangelism for its initiative “Forest Park Kids Club and Safe Place.” This initiative gives the children in the community a safe place to meet at Forest Chapel to learn about God and build relationships with others in the congregation and community. Not coincidentally, Saugath Chhetri, is serving in this ministry initiative!  

Dr. Kabamba is excited about the impact and relationships built through the Forest Park Kids Club and Safe Place and the BBM Ministry. The local community has even reached out to her to help with building further connections. She says,

“God is doing a new thing at Forest Chapel United Methodist Church! My prayer is that this church will be a place of encounter and connection where love flows into the community, a place where people come and connect with one another and with God for the transformation of our community, our world. This is happening!

Dr. J. Kabamba Kiboko

In reflecting on the impact of the Equipping the Local Church grant Dr. Kabamba shared, “The Forest Park Kids Club is new. As it grows, we will see transformation externally in our wider community.” In October 2023, several city and county organizations partnered with the church for a Trunk-or-Treat event, providing donations and volunteers. Over 700 kids participated! “With Forest Chapel becoming a place of encounter, we see neighbors who are immigrants from Mauritania and Senegal; they do not speak English. So, in November [2023], we started a class to teach them English.”

Across the country in the culturally diverse Storm Lake Community of Iowa, Rev. Kiboko I. Kiboko, pastors Storm Lake United Methodist Church. Rev. Kiboko is the brother of Dr. J. Kabamba Kiboko. His congregation received an Equipping the Local Church grant in 2022 for their initiative, “Youth Evangelism among South Sudanese.”  

This ministry allows the church community at Storm Lake to establish new ways to connect with the local South Sudanese community of families and youth. Since being awarded a grant from The Foundation for Evangelism, Storm Lake has become a place of comfort for their South Sudanese community. Youth consider the church a safe and welcoming place to go and build relationships and learn, while parents and adults are able to build their own relationships with God and one another in the church. 

Rev. Kiboko told his story in a 2017 interview with Iliff People, of being called to ministry and shared some of the struggles he faced as an immigrant to The United States. As a student at Wichita State, he was called upon to lead a youth ministry, and as a lay person in the church was repeatedly called on by the pastor or others to help lead worship. While his sister was a pastor at the time, he did not feel called to the ministry, but others who saw his gifts encouraged him to go to seminary. Eventually he did and became a pastor in The United Methodist Church, even serving as a district superintendent. He said,

My dream is to see church people, before inviting anybody to their church, they should be able to invite them in their own homes for meals and start those relationships. Otherwise, it’s not transformational. It’s just a show piece. We are not in show business; we are about transforming lives.

Rev. Kiboko I. Kiboko

These two siblings from Democratic Republic of Congo, now living and pastoring in The United States in culturally diverse communities, are leading their congregations to participate in the “Abundant Living” God calls all Christians to. With catalytic grant support from The Foundation for Evangelism they are providing a way to improve their community’s standard of living by providing basic necessities, quality of life through belonging and fellowship, and perhaps the most important, spiritual or eternal life by invitation to a life transformed by Jesus Christ.  

To learn more about The Foundation for Evangelism and how we are acting as catalysts, please visit https://foundationforevangelism.org/

Grace Church Raleigh (AME Zion) Expands Discipleship with FFE Grant

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.

I Love to Tell the Story…

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!

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Making Room for Spiritual Care & Discipleship at Low-Cost Housing Complex

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.

Grant Recipients Share Stories of Transformation

Rev. Dr. Heather Lear (left) and President Jane Boatwright Wood (right) with 2023 Equipping the Local Church Grant Recipients - Pastors Mary Beth Eberle, Jerry Lee Christian, and Jeremy Reese.
Rev. Dr. Heather Lear (left) and President Jane Boatwright Wood (right) with 2023 Equipping the Local Church Grant Recipients - Pastors Mary Beth Eberle, Jerry Lee Christian, and Jeremy Reese.
Rev. Dr. Heather Lear (left) and President Jane Boatwright Wood (right) with 2023 Equipping the Local Church Grant Recipients – Pastors Mary Beth Eberle, Jerry Lee Christian, and Jeremy Reese.

Lake Junaluska, NC – The Foundation for Evangelism board of trustees heard from a panel of Equipping the Local Church Grant recipients from diverse contexts and denominations on November 10 during its annual meeting at Lake Junaluska, NC. This panel provided an opportunity for the recipients to share their experiences, challenges, and successes resulting from the Foundation’s grant funding.

The panel, comprised of three grant recipients from different settings – rural, suburban, and urban – and denominations including United Methodist, Church of the Nazarene, and Christian Methodist Episcopal, offered compelling insight into the transformative power of the Equipping the Local Church Grant.

Each grant recipient candidly shared their individual journeys and the significant impacts the funds have had on their respective churches and communities. They spoke of the challenges they faced in their unique settings and how the grant funding enabled them to overcome obstacles and partner in their communities to share the gospel message and help transform lives.

Pastor Jeremy Reese from Aiken Ebenezer Church of the Nazarene in Aiken, S.C., described how the grant funding allowed their congregation to build relationships with the unhoused people in their community, providing food assistance, showers, counseling, and assistance finding permanent housing. Pastor Reese shared that one of the most encouraging things he’s seen is the church take a personal interest in the people they are serving, getting to know their names and their stories. “It’s the personal connection of it. ‘How’s my church getting involved in this – how are they overcoming some of their own stereotypes, and stigmas, and fears…and unknown racism? How are they overcoming those things?’ That’s been exciting to see.”

Rev. Mary Beth Eberle from Grace United Methodist Church in Jackson, Tenn., shared how the grant helped bring energy to their small congregation which is trying to create a welcoming place for those in their community that are not comfortable in a typical Sunday morning church setting. They have created various outreach events with a “low barrier to entry,” allowing new people to connect with God in ever-deepening relationship. “A lot of the work we’re doing is UN-doing church harm that people have experienced. There are people for whom it’s terrifying to come to church, so we look at providing easy ‘on-ramps’ to become part of our community. Our hope is through the less threatening things it will be easier for people to open up spiritually.” said Rev. Eberle.

Rev. Jerry Lee Christian from Russell Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Durham, N.C., expressed his gratitude for the grant funding. That funding helped the church reach out to their community with food and housing assistance, but through the process, realized many of those they serve struggle with mental health. The grant helped them to connect one-on-one with at-risk and vulnerable individuals in their community such as the unhoused, formerly incarcerated, and veterans. “We’ve witnessed, through getting to know people personally and through small groups, people changing their lives and reaching back to others so that no one is left behind. Many of the people in the African American community trust the church…. The grant has allowed God to open doors and show us untapped resources and people – now we’ve seen new people sharing their talents.” Rev. Christian shared.

“We are honored to have had these remarkable grant recipients share their stories at our annual meeting,” said Dr. Heather Lear, Vice President for Grant Administration for The Foundation for Evangelism. “Their accounts of challenges, joys, and transformational outcomes demonstrate the power of the Equipping the Local Church Grant program, allowing local churches to launch an experiment or initiative to share the Gospel, tell their stories, and invite others into a relationship with Jesus alongside a local faith community”

The Foundation for Evangelism’s Equipping the Local Church Grant program aims to provide financial assistance to churches with innovative projects and ideas that align with their mission of nurturing disciples and sharing the message of Jesus Christ. Since its inception, the grant program has supported 81 churches across 8 denominations, various settings, and geographic locations, fostering positive change and enabling them to share God’s love, light, and life in their communities.

For more information about the Equipping the Local Church grant or other grant programs, please visit www.foundationforevangelism.org/grants.

Note to editors: Please include the panelists’ names and their respective church names in any coverage of the event.

Pray for our 2023 Local Church Grant Recipients

Embrace – A Center for Community in Waynesboro, Va.

Earlier this year, The Foundation for Evangelism announced that 50 churches and organizations were chosen to receive an Equipping the Local Church grant. These $5,000, $7,500 and $10,000 micro-grants were awarded small and medium sized Wesleyan tradition* churches and church-based organizations from 9 denominations across 24 states. Of course obtaining the grant funding is just one step in launching these experiments and initiatives to share the Gospel, tell their faith stories, and invite others into a relationship with Jesus alongside a local faith community.

We encourage you to pray for one of these grant recipients each day – that their ministries have a positive impact on their communities and that they open doors to invite their neighbors into life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ!

Abundant Life African Methodist Episcopal  Church – Dallas, Texas
This new urban church plant in an area with a high level of poverty will create a new, welcoming, non-threatening place for members to invite family, friends and neighbors to experience the love of Christ in a non-traditional way. To be held monthly on a Sunday afternoon, the gathering will include food, music, open mic time and encourage faith conversations with facilitation from laity and clergy. There will also be a team of laity and clergy that follow up with attendees.

Agape Fellowship Church of the Nazarene – New Igeria, Louisiana
Project RUSH is an initiative to encourage and teach Black fathers to experience both restoration and unification within their own lives and that of their sons.  Project RUSH’s strategic initiative is to bridge the relationship gap between approximately 50 fathers and sons. Funds will provide reading materials, support activities (father and son events/fishing/etc.) meals, advertising to be distributed to churches, gyms, veteran centers, and other places where fathers may not be connected to any church community.

Aldersgate United Methodist Church – Olathe, Kansas
The program will offer leadership development and a visual and performing arts program for K-12 students, where older students will be mentored to work alongside adult leaders. The program will begin with a 2-week summer project and may continue with specific classes based on interest. The congregation has laity experienced in teaching and the arts and will also draw on community connection to build relationship with families of participants from less resourced areas.

Aldersgate United Methodist Church – Augusta, Georgia
An initiative to reach out to those parenting on their own through a quarterly blessing day, parenting seminars, a Fresh Expressions group, parent’s night out and invitation to other existing offerings for kids/youth. Laity, pastors and staff already trained in this type of ministry will plan and lead the initiative, while the broader congregation will be invited to support the ministry and its participants.

Bad Axe Church of the Nazarene – Bad Axe, Michigan
This initiative aims to come alongside individuals and families to help share the healing love of Christ through the Celebrate Recovery program. This program will not just be limited to substance abuse, but it will be open to any addiction that someone might be experiencing.

Bethel Korean United Methodist Church – Santa Clara, California
This small, multigenerational church, primarily comprised of Korean immigrants, will develop a counseling ministry to the surrounding Asian-American community to help combat mental health stigma, anxiety and depression. A Christian licensed therapist will help train congregation members as lay counselors, courses will be open to the community to reach those who may not otherwise attend a church service, and the lay-led care sessions will provide for the psychological and spiritual needs of those in their community through informed, compassionate counseling care.

Bremen United Methodist Church – Bremen, Ohio
This initiative is to start a local coffee shop in the village of Bremen. The coffee shop will serve as a gathering place for coffee, conversation, and activities such as: trivia night, karaoke night, youth group night, children’s story hour, bible studies and Sunday night worship. The concept is to provide a community meeting space that is family friendly and youth oriented.

Brighton Rock African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – Portsmouth, Virginia
The pastor and laity will draw on experience and education in social work to provide children’s Sunday morning and After School programs in a holistic environment that promotes education, spiritual growth, self-esteem, leadership skills, and values to guide students throughout their lives. The program will include tutoring, mentoring and opportunities for learning about and growing in their faith.

Canadian Hills Church of the Nazarene – Yukon, Oklahoma
This initiative is to equip people to live out their faith, collectively, in a daily manner. In September they launched a series of panel conversations with their community called Walk Well With. Through these panels, the congregation is gaining awareness about issues in their community and learning how to walk with people experiencing such things as domestic violence, lack of affordable housing, and poverty as part of their discipleship.

Ceili Community (UMC) – Wheatland, Oklahoma
Cell Community is a new church start seeking to be ability inclusive. ABLE is a program that brings together multiple partners to create space for meaningful employment and life skills for individuals with disabilities. ABLE will serve as an entry point for the families served to connect with the church and their discipleship programs.

Committee on Native American Ministry of the Minnesota Annual Conference of the UMC
This ministry, based at the denomination’s conference level, will empower and equip congregations in evangelistic outreach to their indigenous brothers and sisters, offering the Good News of Jesus Christ in a way that respects their cultural identity and seeks to heal past the harm done by early colonial missionaries. The training/coaching team will be comprised of Native and non-Native pastors and laity who have a heart for Native American people and are very knowledgeable regarding this specialized and contextualized way of sharing salvation through love, healing, hope, and Joy in Jesus Christ.

Community Cup Church of the Nazarene – Kankakee, Illinois
This initiative is for the development of a family resource center, specifically offering parenting classes and support groups to better nurture, love, and educate families. Both pastors and lay leaders will serve in the development of the center. Part of the education in the center will teach biblical principles for parenting.

Converted Heart Christian Methodist Episcopal Church – Silver Spring, Maryland
This initiative is to create a worship service within a homeless shelter. During the services, individuals will have the opportunity to give real-time testimonies in their faith development. Those testimonies will provide further opportunities to develop training surround that subject matter.

Cooks Hill Community Church (Free Methodist) – Centralia, Washington
Laundry Church is a gathering for fellowship, worship, teaching and discipleship designed to reach those who might never enter a church – sharing the love of Jesus and building relationships by doing laundry together, sharing a meal, and having regular times to check-in. Joint Pastor and Lay-led with volunteers including counselors, community service workers healthcare workers, and those with experience serving the un-housed.

Cross Keys United Methodist Sunday School – Williamstown, New Jersey
This initiative expands on Next Generation (Youth) ministries, focusing on children ages four through twelve. The applicants will hold four community events for children. Each two-hour event will introduce kids to Christ in fun ways and provide parents with a safe place and engaging activities for their children.

CrossRoads Cowboy Church Natural Dam (Church of the Nazarene) – Natural Dam, Arkansas
An established “Cowboy Church” will form an outreach ministry that provides training for rodeo contestants of all ages. Participants, many of which are afraid to walk into a traditional style church, will hear the gospel message from coaches, church members, and other participants, and they will be invited to attend the non-traditional worship services and programs of the church.

Daniel Payne Outreach Ministries (AMEC) – Nashville, Tennessee
A nonprofit partnered to a local church will begin a community garden on church land that will provide produce free of charge to the surrounding community, be an educational opportunity to encourage healthy eating, and will provide hot meals to community members. The placement of the garden and involvement of the congregation will allow them to meet community members, help meet their need for food, while also sharing love and hospitality in the name of Jesus.

Deland Church of the Nazarene – Deland, Florida
This initiative is for a middle school after school program that focuses on a critical age group at elevated risk for substance use, crime, negative peer influence, and even human trafficking. The goal is to create a faith-based program that encourages youth to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. This ministry will incorporate music, drama, fun, and faith into a daily chapel and biblical study connection time as part of the after-school programming.

DRC-Rwandan PAC of the South Austin Church of the Nazarene – Austin, Texas
This initiative is for a new parent-affiliated congregation serving the Swahili-Kinyarwanda immigrant population of Austin: for worship, second language assistance, and job search assistance. The goal is for this group to be fully integrated as part of the South Austin Church which is already bilingual in English and Spanish.

Easter Hill United Methodist Church – Richmond, California
This historically black church will invite families that participate in Freedom School, a summer program they sponsor, to a series of events that complement the summer program and provide an introduction to the church’s ministries. The events will be planned with collaboration between church and summer program staff with input from the Freedom School participants to help build relationships with one another and with Jesus Christ.

Ebenezer Church of the Nazarene – Aiken, South Carolina
This initiative provides hygiene opportunities to those experiencing homelessness, via a mobile “shower trailer.” For the shower ministry, the pastor and laity will arrange a schedule for the Shower Saturdays of who is volunteering. They will monitor the trailer and provide clean socks, underwear and a food bag to those who come.

Embrace – A Center for Community (UMC) – Waynesboro, Virginia
The Table Salt initiative nurtures innovative, collaborative community-based worship communities by bringing together diverse and often un-served/under-served groups to encounter the living God, be nourished for service alongside Christ, and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to nourish others. As a church plant, Embrace converted a former congregational facility into a mission outpost where congregations and community agencies extend their reach to at-risk/marginalized neighbors. They are now expanding to include the “dinner church” model for worship

First United Methodist Church – Johnson City, Tennessee
This church is committed to be in ministry with their community’s children and families, where most live in poverty or are people of color. Pre-COVID, the youth ministry sought to meet basic needs and build relationships and participation grew from 4 to 200.  This grant will expand their midweek program to Sunday mornings through transportation, breakfast, and integration into the congregation’s worship life.

Fleming Island United Methodist Church – Fleming Island, Florida
A Special Needs children’s ministry will help this church connect with a specific group from their community that is often overlooked. Using the experience and passion of church members who have family members or work with people with special needs, they will develop a unique space for these children and their families to be part of worship, the existing children’s program, and spiritual growth ministries.

Forest Chapel United Methodist Church – Cincinnati, Ohio
This is an evangelistic ministry with children from the neighboring elementary school, ages 5 through 12. These children face the challenges of drugs, gangs, violence, high school pregnancy, and failure to complete high school and continue to post-secondary education. Prayer will be the foundation on which this ministry is built and relationships with children develop. Scripture will be heard read and sung. Kids will have fun as they discover that the story in the Bible is their story.

Four Winds NYC (Wesleyan Church) – New York, New York
Four Winds NYC is a Cafe church that will serve the neighbors in East Village NYC. The applicants plan to utilize their space to provide jobs, legal immigration services and education, mentoring and tutoring, and also be a regular workshop for arts and music professionals.

Goodsell United Methodist Church – West Point, Georgia
Suppin’ in the Word is a new ministry designed to intentionally share GOD through the WORD using scripture, stories, study, a meal fellowship and mentorship. The goal is to seed a positive change in the lives of participants and reach unchurched persons in a non-traditional way and at a non-traditional time by increasing spiritual awareness.

Grace United Methodist Church – Jackson, Tennessee
This initiative is to create the Community Table, a place for learning, creativity, and fellowship. The applicants plan to focus their congregational gifts on hospitality and service to open the church as a community center. They will host a community garden (strengthening an existing relationship with the local soup kitchen and the school next door), offer art and wellness classes, host parents’ nights out, and organize alcohol-free music events.

Hartsville District Cooperative Parish – Hartsville, South Carolina
This cooperative parish includes churches which are historically black and Anglo. They are starting a dinner church to welcome people in the community to a meal and informal conversation around a scriptural topic with the goal of building relationships.

Hemenway United Methodist Church – Evanston, Illinois
This initiative offers young leaders a Jesus-centered approach to Christian teaching grounded in the tenets of Wesleyan heritage. This is a mentorship program where youth can continue to explore their spirituality, discover their gifts, and be given leadership opportunities within the life of the church. The hope is that they will experience the goodness of God in their lives and continue leading in the future.

Heritage United Methodist Church – Madison, Alabama
“Every Child is Worth Celebrating” is the motto of this initiative that provides birthday gifts and parties to children whose caregivers may not be able to afford to do so. The church has cultivated partnerships at local schools and with foster care system non-profits in their community. Through Christian relationship, they hope to bring the Gospel to the children and caregivers, and to the larger community through invitation to become involved.

Midtown Church (Assembly of God) – Kansas City, Missouri
This initiative will launch a coffee shop in a post-Christian community, geared toward sharing the love of our hospitable God. Employees will be hired with intention toward discipleship and mission, including managers who build relationships that reveal the nature of God, and baristas aging out of the foster care system. After 6 months of getting to know the community and building partnerships, they will launch a worship gathering

Mosaic Church of Detroit (Wesleyan Church) – Detroit, Michigan
This initiative is for a food truck ministry. The food truck ministry will train vulnerable youth, return citizens, and persons in recovery in Culinary Arts and entrepreneurship. This ministry will encourage relationship building that leads to discipleship and spiritual formation.

Mosaic United Methodist Church – Wilmington,  North Carolina
This initiative aims to commission artists to learn about and paint a Saint. The artists will be sourced from three main groups: Young artists (k-12th grade), College students, and the local artist co-op. As the paintings are completed, invitations will be given to the artist and any surviving family members to a worship service.

Mount Hermon United Methodist Church – Mount Jackson, Virginia
This initiative is to build an outdoor, natural playground based on Biblical themes.  Each activity would tie to a story from the Bible, e.g., a tunnel called “Jonah’s Whale.” This area would also include seating and tables for scheduled gatherings. This initiative will be a missional field as the church schedules regular playdates and Bible studies in this outdoor environment.

Mount Hope United Methodist Church – Lansing,  Michigan
This multicultural city church will engage middle and high school teens in a music program that helps them learn about Jesus and tell their faith stories in a youth-led worship service and discipleship ministry. With shared leadership from pastors and laity, the program will help youth of the church understand what faith in Christ means. They will be encouraged and mentored in their spiritual development by volunteers in the ministry, and will also have the opportunity to connect with their peers.

Mt. Harmony United Methodist Church – Wellersburg,  Pennsylvania
“Taste The Joy: Community Luncheon and Happenings,” is an initiative that offers a shared place to have a free meal, have conversations, make friends, listen to faith stories, and offer support, topics of interest, and show movies that ignite heartfelt discussion, thoughts, doubt, fears and faith. As jobs and people have left this community, there are high levels of isolation and hunger among those who remain, and this initiative will feed hearts and souls.

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church – Pittsboro, North Carolina
The Teacher Workday Childcare program is a new offering to the community which will build on the current Parents’ Morning Out program by offering a safe and nurturing Christian environment for children during the Chatham County public school Teacher Workdays. This program will address a need for community families, allowing members to use their gifts and experience, further build relationships, and provide fun and educational activities that will nurture mind, body, and spirit.

Rebirth Christian Methodist Episcopal Church – Florissant, Missouri
Pastors and laity (of 2 churches) have been planning for this initiative for several years to prepare lay volunteers to share their faith, provide a “Grill ‘n Greet” cookout event to get to know neighbors and share Jesus with them, provide a summer camp for children to promote their spiritual and academic growth, as well as a 6-month intensive effort to serve the homeless with physical resources and a witness to God’s love and saving message.

Russell Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church – Durham, North Carolina
The initiative will provide a weekly Sunday morning breakfast and teaching time for low-income, unhoused or formerly incarcerated individuals from nearby public housing. A planned block party in the public housing areas will provide physical necessities while inviting the community to a fun, approachable worship time. The project will also start an after-school care program for children in partnership with community organizations, pastors, teachers, counselors and other community leaders.

Smith Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – Anniston, Alabama
This initiative uses qualified and newly trained congregants to provide two weekend meals to the community as well as other outreach programs. The applicants will continue developing partnerships, and jointly explore grant opportunities throughout the city and neighboring communities, to decrease the number of un-sheltered, and unemployed residents throughout the community.

St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church  – Nashville, Tennessee
This STEM program will expose youth (boys and girls) with hands on, experimental learning in science, technology, engineering and math in weekly labs after school. The program will reinforce the message of Jesus Christ by witnessing through facilitator actions to the students that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the light.

Tehachapi Valley United Methodist Church – Tehachapi, California
This initiative serves adults with special needs by providing a weekly spiritually-led socialization program.  Church members, retired special education teachers, aids, youth, and young adults volunteer their skills and talents to belonging ministries.

Tempe First United Methodist Church – Tempe, Arizona
This church is personally vested in sharing the Gospel in a new way with persons with developmental disabilities. The grant will enable the church environment to be inclusive enough for the Developmental Disability community to become a regular part of being grounded in God’s story, to share with others in this story, to be invited in and discipled and to invite others along with them. Leadership and follow-through will include a mix of pastors, staff, and laity, and planning will include persons with and parents of children with developmental disabilities.

The Gathering at Washington Street (UMC) – Petersburg, Virginia
This initiative aims to use a regular monthly meal as a means to grow relationships that lead to faith, transformed lives, and a transformed community. Numerous opportunities are available for laity to join the work in a way that equips them to grow in discipleship. They can pray, sit at a table and converse with people who are eating, cook a meal and/or serve the meal.

The Mosaic Center – Evans, Georgia
This community mission/outreach branch of Mosaic Church Evans has built relationships among residents of a low/no-income apartment building which houses adults with disabilities and complicating factors, such as mental illness or drug addiction, in an economically depressed area. The program will focus on building leadership among the residents, involving laity in the church to help with literacy classes and Bible reading, and will recruit two summer ministry interns (2023) to help identify any unaddressed spiritual issues.

The Way (UMC) – Pace, Florida
An initiative to reach folks in the community through a community soccer league. The aim is to introduce people to Jesus via weekend soccer games led by the church youth director with experience as a pro soccer player.

West Ohio Conference of the UMC
Four Friends’ purpose is to inspire a desire in those listening to join God’s work with those whose lives have been impacted by crime and incarceration. This grant connects formerly incarcerated individuals with local churches where they share their personal testimony of how they came to faith in Christ, have experienced God’s redemptive work, and continue to be transformed by the Gospel. These congregations are encouraged and given resources to begin ministry with justice-involved persons.

Word on the Street (UMC) – Huntersville, North Carolina
This initiative is for a group of dinner churches. These dinner churches provide a weekly meal for over 100 people. The group also shares things like clothing, supplies, and haircuts. Most importantly, after those meals, they gather together for worship. Through this worship, they all share the love of Jesus with each other.

Zion Grove African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – Eagle Springs, North Carolina
This initiative will train leaders from 6 congregations to build relationships among women through the means of learning to pray, reflection, meditation, and forgiveness. With many churches in a radius of ten miles, churches cannot operate independently without the help of local churches supporting and uplifting one another. The format will be modeled after John Wesley’s class meetings.

Other Ways to Support Local Church Grants

Funding for Equipping the Local Church Grants come from our donors. If you’d like to support a grant, make a donation below:

*We define Wesleyan-tradition as based on the ministry movement begun in the 18th century by John and Charles Wesley

EDIT: A previous version of this story listed 51 grant recipients. That number has been reduced to 50 due to one recipient withdrawing their application.

The “E Word” Web Series Returns

Now in its second season, The “E-Word” web series returns with three new speakers. The series is developed with the local church in mind and features three E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism – experts in evangelism in the Wesleyan-tradition and each practical theologians with pastoral experience.

Following the same three topics as the 2019 season, the speakers will bring their own perspective and expertise to help church leaders delve deeper into what it means to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ with the spirit of John and Charles Wesley.

Session 1: Angel Santiago-Vendrell on “Why Jesus”


Session 2: Rev. Dr. Henry “Hal” Knight III on “Evangelism and Discipleship Systems”


Session 3: Rev. Dr. David Whitworth on “Contextual Awareness”