Seed Money to Help Parishes Sow New Initiatives for Greater Fruitfulness

Has your parish perceived a need in your community and sensed God's call to engage and respond?   Diocesan Council has recently allocated $55,000 in mission grants to help parishes implement new ways to answer this call. Initiatives are encouraged which embody local expressions of Bishop McConnell's three strategic priorities – proclaiming a Public Gospel; helping parishes become Missional Communities; and enhancing Leadership Formation, especially by helping laity deepen their knowledge and love of God in Jesus Christ and equipping them for His mission in the world. These grants, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, will be available as early as March, 2015 on a first-come, first-served basis.
 
How might a parish identify a worthy prospect for such a grant?  The short answer is prayer and discernment. A slightly longer answer can be found in the example of a new initiative at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Hazelwood. At their annual church picnic, a few neighbors joined in on the lawn for services and a meal. The senior warden, Teri Dillon, noticed that these folks seemed very hungry. They returned to church week after week for services and coffee hour.
 
"Perhaps more so for the coffee hour," said Teri, "although it also gave Father Huett Fleming a chance to minister to them." Recalling her grandmother's words that "no one should ever be hungry," she started brainstorming on how Good Shepherd could provide a meal or two for the hungry families of their neighborhood. Learning that the Salvation Army was benefitting from donations of extra soup from some local restaurants, Teri and Fr. Fleming were able to partner with them to use excess donations for a meal to be provided with Good Shepherd's Thursday evening Bible Study.
 
When the effort launched on the first Thursday of November, offering soup and sandwiches, no one came. The second week, one person came, the third week seven people, and the numbers continued to grow. On the Thursday before Christmas, 22 people attended the program now called "Feeding Mind, Body and Soul." It is hoped that Good Shepherd's story will encourage the prayers, perceptions, and creative thoughts of other parishes.
 
The Mission Grant Application is available by clicking here. Completed applications with the required supporting documentation may be submitted to Judi Rogers at the diocesan office.