Ten New Initiative Fund grants awarded by Diocesan Council

For the second year, Diocesan Council has awarded grant monies to support new ministry in Maine congregations.

On Saturday, March 3, Council – a representative, elected body which serves as the “Convention between Conventions” – met at Saint Mary the Virgin Church in Falmouth.  While new working groups on leadership development, mission review, and aid to congregations were meeting, other Council members evaluated the 16 New Initiative Fund grant applications. The full body then met to discuss and deliberate with an eye to how closely each application fit the Seven Criteria for Mission adopted by Diocesan Convention last October. A total of $23,885 was awarded for new ministry in the diocese.

After thorough and thoughtful consideration, seven grants were approved for full funding:

Deer Isle Ecumenical Youth Program – $1,000
St. Brendan’s, Stonington, has joined with seven local churches to launch a much-needed youth program for local young people.  This grant will assist with the effort.

– Wilton Ecumenical After School Program – $750
St. Luke’s, Wilton, is collaborating with the local Methodist congregation in a new venture to offer Christian Education in a safe and fun space for elementary-aged children after school.

ChurchNext.tv Scholarships – $1,000
Submitted by the Leadership Development Task Force, this program will offer grants to Maine congregations to engage in low-cost congregational and leadership development programs offered at ChurchNext.tv. This service aggregates videos and print resource guides of exemplary church leaders and consultants on a growing number of topics. The service offers congregations for a small fee ($25 – $40) downloadable video and e-resource/ course guides for church growth and leadership development. Application details will be shared across the diocese soon.

St. Augustine’s Community Garden – $800
This grant, submitted by St. Augustine’s in Dover-Foxcroft, will assist in developing part of the property as raised-bed community garden space. The project will increase visibility of the church in the community. A portion of the harvest be shared with local meal/food programs serving the elderly and with food pantries and other agencies.

The Episcopal Church Smartphone Application (ECSA) – Outreach via Media – $5,000
Members of Trinity, Saco, will venture boldly into the realm of smartphone applications. By developing an Outreach via Media application, they hope to create a model for sharing the experience of church beyond the wall of the building by offering daily devotions, sermons, and a source of connection to faith and community to anyone, anywhere.

Rhythms of Grace – $1,200
Using a successful program to use worship to welcome and incorporate families who have children with disabilities, St. Stephen’s, Waterboro, will reach out to this community whose members have often felt isolated from church life.

Reconnecting Youth and Young Adult Intervention and Recovery – $4,700
Building on the success of its Reconnecting Youth program, St. George’s, Sanford, using local data that tracks teen drinking, drug use and dependency, to develop a new program that offers intervention and support to young adults aged 18 to 24.

Three grants were approved for partial funding:

Collaborative ministry for Trinity/St. Peter’s, Portland, and St. Alban’s, Cape Elizabeth – $4,000
This grant will support a new, collaborative ministry between Trinity Church and St. Peter’s in Portland and St. Alban’s in Cape Elizabeth, drawing on existing resources from all three congregations.

Kid’s Club – $4,500
This grant will assist Christ Church, Eastport, in developing a region-wide Christian Education ministry that is much needed in the community.

Creating a Culture of Peace Nonviolence Training – $935
This grant made to the Episcopal Peace Fellowship-Maine Chapter will subsidize costs for a three-day nonviolence training program in October 2012 at St. John Baptist in Thomaston, the first of such held in the Diocese of Maine since 2008.

Council approves additional funds

In other business, Council voted to use $3,000 from the remaining New Initiative Fund to create a Green Grant program to be administered by the new Sustainability Task Force.  Congregations will be invited to apply for funds to cover the cost of an energy audit for church buildings. After recommendations from an audit are made, congregations will be eligible to apply for low-interest loans from the Diocesan Trustees loan program.  Look for details and guidelines soon.

Also approved from the balance of the New Initiative Fund was $8,000 to be used for leadership development across the Diocese. In its December 2011 meeting, Council appointed a Leadership Development Working Group to begin thinking about strategies to empower and assist both lay and clergy leaders in Maine congregations.  That recommendation came from both the Mission Study Groups which together brought a similar resolution to Diocesan Convention.

In addition to the $8,000 allocated from the New Initiative Fund balance, Council approved the allocation of $26,901 from the 2011 diocesan surplus to be dedicated to leadership development.

The remaining balance of the New Initiatives Fund totaling $5,115 was approved for use by the Bangor-area ministry at St. John’s serving homeless families in severe poverty. The funds will assist in constructing restroom and shower facilities in a new shelter at St. John’s.

Finally, Council voted to dedicate the remaining 2011 budget surplus of $25,000 to Camp Bishopswood for a one-time gift to assist with its leadership transition. This will allow the trustees of Bishopswood to hire a new director prior to the retirement of 34-year veteran Georgia Koch. Such a move will allow for a smooth transition between directors.

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