Category Archives: Diocesan Council

Expand your ministry with a New Initiative Fund grant

Dreaming about a new ministry in your community?

Apply now for a 2016 New Initiative Grant from Diocesan Council.

Each congregation and organization in the Diocese of Maine is eligible to apply for funding to support new ministries or expanding existing ministries in new directions. Applications will be evaluated on the how closely they meet the Diocese’s Seven Criteria for Mission.

The next deadline for applications is 4 p.m. on Friday, January 22. Diocesan Council will make grant recommendations at its February 6 meeting.

The online application may be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/MaineNIF

Download the application worksheet and complete your application on that before cutting and pasting your application into the online Survey Monkey application above.

Once your application is processed, you will be contacted by a Diocesan Council member from your area. That member will serve as your advocate through the application process.

What kind of ministry might a New Initiative Fund grant get going? Below is a list of grants made by Diocesan Council over the past two years in spring and fall grant cycles.

Dream big!

2015 New Initiative Fund Grants

St. Luke’s, Wilton – $3,000 to install a community labyrinth

Human Trafficking Ministry Group – $2,650 to bring Becca Stevens and women of Thistle Farms to a conference in November 2015

St. Matthew’s, Hallowell – $2,450 to support a Ecumenical mentoring program for women recently released Kennebec County Jail, Walk with Me: A Journey

St. Paul’s, Brunswick – $1,750 to gather and create resources for congregations to effectively talk about alcoholism

2014 New Initiative Fund Grants 

The Congregations of the Southern Kennebec Valley (The Kennebec 6 – St. Mark’s, Augusta; St. Barnabas’, Augusta; Christ Church, Gardiner; St. Matthew’s, Hallowell; St. Andrew’s, Winthrop; and Prince of Peace Lutheran, Augusta) – $10,680 to establish a Sunday afternoon community Christian education program for families called “Mustard Seeds”

Trinity Church, Portland – $4,600 to assist All Saints Community Church, a Sudanese congregation that had met at Trinity for four years, in establishing a Christian education program

St. Nicholas’, Scarborough – $2,200 to establish a community garden on their Route 1 campus

St. Ann’s, Windham – $3,000 to establish an essentials pantry for needy members of their community

St. Peter’s, Bridgton – $2,400 for Women’s Initiative Mentoring Program

Diocesan Christian Ed Collaboration – $6,700 to bring Godly Play training to Maine

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Filed under Church at 209 Augusta, Diocesan Council, Diocesan Life, Ministry and Outreach, St. Ann's Windham, St. Luke's Wilton, St. Matthew's Hallowell, St. Nicholas' Scarborough, St. Paul's Brunswick, St. Peter's Bridgton, Trinity Portland

Maine Episcopal Network for Justice: How did we get here?

by Heidi Shott
Canon for Communication and Advocacy
Episcopal Diocese of Maine

MENJ Director John Hennessy (Photo by Jeff Kirlin)
MENJ Director John Hennessy
(Photo by Jeff Kirlin)

Last week at our 196th annual diocesan convention, we announced the news that the Diocese of Maine will receive a $30,000 grant from The Episcopal Church to launch the Maine Episcopal Network for Justice (MENJ). Those funds will be combined with $8,000 from the 2016 diocesan budget to hire John Hennessy, a member of St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland, as the part-time director of MENJ. John has vast experience in advocacy work in Maine, most recently as the policy director of Maine AARP, as well as strong relationships with leaders in Augusta and Washington, D.C.

“I am excited to help lead the MENJ as we engage people of faith throughout the diocese to talk about and work on the important public policy issues of the day. Maine Episcopalians are uniquely positioned to make impact with both our citizen legislature in the state as well as our very accessible federal delegation,” he said upon learning of the award.

In making this grant, The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, which runs the Episcopal Public Policy Network, has shown confidence that the Diocese of Maine is well-suited to lead the way for other dioceses in the creation of a grassroots network that helps Episcopalians exercise voices of faith about issues of urgent concern in our communities, our state, our nation, and our world.

At this point you may be asking, like the Talking Heads’ lead singer David Byrne, “Well, how did we get here?”

t-stop
David Byrne c. 1983

Last December Diocesan Council created a Public Policy Advisory Group to assist in deciding which issues – among the many that come across our desks – the Diocese of Maine should take on in a meaningful and sustained way.

Over the past seven years Bishop Lane and I have enjoyed a great working relationship around public policy and advocacy. It usually involves me bursting into his office in a pique of enthusiasm and asking, “Hey, are you busy? May I ask you something? Should stick our noses in this [current] issue?” Or he will shoot an email or text to me about a timely subject and say, “I think we need to do something about this.” We use as our guide two measures: issues we know about something about – we’re not policy wonks – and the Gospel imperatives laid out in Matthew 25:

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the kind will answer them, “Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to one of the lease of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

That’s pretty clear, right? Poverty, hunger, and housing, refugees and asylum seekers, healthcare, restorative justice, and giving voice to our vulnerable neighbors whose voices often go unheard. It’s easy to hear the echoes of the prophet Micah to “love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly” with our God.

Forming an advisory group made sense. But here’s the truth, the group we pulled together has had exactly one meeting and that was a conference call. However, during that one conversation last February, the idea for a statewide Episcopal public policy network emerged.

The point is that unless our advocacy around issues we people of faith care about has both a focused legislative effort and a life as a local, grassroots movement, then we are not doing all the work we should to engage the people in our congregations in matters of justice.

So I started to roll the idea around in my mind about what such a network might look like. How could we possibly pull it off when I would be the only staff person and I already have a full-time job? Also, I was starting my sabbatical in a few months. Arrrgghh! How could we possibly put this on the back burner until September?

A week before my sabbatical began, I called the Social Justice Missioner at The Episcopal Church, Chuck Wynder, to ask for help. He was very supportive and enthusiastic about the idea and said he was already speaking to bishops in other dioceses about statewide public policy networks. However, he said, networks are hard to pull together because many of the dioceses that want to do create one are in states where there are multiple dioceses. The rub: to create an effective statewide network means all the dioceses have to work together.

“We don’t have that problem in Maine,” I assured him. “Our state and our diocese are one and the same.”

And then he told me the staggering news that caused me to practically fall out of my chair. “We have grants available to help you fund it; up to $30,000 a year, renewable for up to three years.”

I immediately called John Hennessy, a member of the Public Policy Task Force. Earlier in the spring Bishop Lane and I had asked John to step in as a consultant during my sabbatical to assist the Bishop in following several issues that we were tracking, including the state budget process and various bills still in play in the Legislature.

“John, there’s money to do this thing.” I think I said – loudly. “A lot!” I asked him to be in touch with Chuck to find out about the application process while I was away. I would be stepping out of sabbatical to return to work during the ten days of General Convention in Salt Lake City, so I asked him to check back in with me in late June.

I was sitting in the quiet press room in the vast Salt Palace Convention Center when John’s email complete with a well-crafted draft of a grant application arrived. A little yelp of happiness escaped my lips. I turned to some of my bemused communicator colleagues sitting nearby and whispered, “I think I might cry.”

This fall John and I buffed up the grant app and asked the Finance Committee and Council to consider upping the Advocacy budget line for 2016 by $8,000 to prove to The Episcopal Church that Maine has skin in the game. Bishop Lane contacted the bishops of Vermont and New Hampshire to see if they would be interested if Maine were to expand its network in the second year of the grant to include their dioceses. Bishop Ely of Vermont and Bishop Hirschfeld of New Hampshire responded with enthusiasm and are waiting to learn how things go in the first six months. 

So here we are: ready to engage the members of the Public Policy Task Force and, with the addition of a few people with various types of expertise, turn it into a MENJ Steering Group. We have our first meeting with Bishop Lane next week. John says it well: “We need to be strategic in our work and recognize where our leadership, our voices and our actions will make a difference. We can’t be everything to everybody but we can certainly do our best to make (progressive) voices of faith part of the civil discourse.”

Together, with John taking the lead, we will venture into new territory with two major goals ahead of us: maintaining a strong advocacy presence in Augusta while nurturing partnerships with other denominations and organizations that hold the same values as the Episcopal Church, and building local networks of people in our congregations empowered to give voice to their faith by learning to advocate for Gospel issues of local, state, national, and international concern.

Stay-tuned, there’s more to come. A lot more!

Join the MENJ group on Facebook for news, updates, and ways to connect. www.facebook.com/groups/maineenj

Visit the MENJ home page.

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Filed under Diocesan Council, Diocesan Life, Maine Episcopal Network for Justice, Ministry and Outreach, Social Justice

2015 New Initiative Grant applications welcomed

Dreaming about a new ministry in your community? Apply now for a 2015 New Initiative Grants from Diocesan Council. Each congregation and organization in the Diocese of Maine is eligible to apply for funding to support new ministries or expanding existing ministries in new directions. Applications will be evaluated on the how closely they meet the Seven Criteria for Mission, approved at Diocesan Convention in 2011.

The deadline for applications is 4 p.m. on Friday, February 6. Diocesan Council will make grant recommendations at its February 21 meeting.

The online application may be found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/2015newinitiative.

RECOMMENDED: Download the application worksheet and complete your application on that before cutting and pasting your application into the online Survey Monkey application.

Once your application is received, you will be contacted by a Diocesan Council member from your area. That member will serve as your advocate through the application process.

Dream big!

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Diocesan Council awards three New Initiative Fund grants

At its February 1 meeting at St. Martin’s in Palmyra, Diocesan Council considered grant applications for the 2014 New Initiative Fund and made three awards. In its fourth year, the NIF program awards Maine congregations with funding for start-up ministries or new programs within existing ministries. Funds come from two sources: $10,000 from the 2014 diocesan budget approved at Convention and up to $15,000 from income from the Foundations for Ministry endowment, a capital campaign effort in the 1990s.

St. Peter’s, Bridgton, was awarded $2,400 to support its Women’s Initiative. St. Peter’s Women’s Initiative is for all women, especially low income women, in the Bridgton and surrounding areas to participate in mentoring and support in the areas of employment skills, health and wellness, and other areas on a weekly basis. Leaders are volunteers from the parish and offer their many gifts and talents. The leaders of the group will offer education and emotional support for women going through transitions in their lives. The initiative will work with others groups and professionals in the community such as the Bridgton Community Center as well as area physicians and other churches for referrals.

St. George’s, York Harbor, was awarded $4,000 to support mentor training for The Stockell Program. This community program will work with at-risk young adults between 17 – 20 years old to allow them to achieve their full potential as healthy and well-adjusted individuals. This will be achieved through assessment programs that identify needs, offer workplace intervention, housing options, mentoring, counseling, and transition services.

The Diocese of Maine Christian Ed Collaboration was awarded $6,700 to train Maine Episcopalians to become Godly Play trainers and to host training events in Maine each year. In recent years three Maine congregations tried to host Godly Play trainings with mixed results, primarily due to the overwhelming cost of bringing trainers to Maine. Currently, the only option for Godly Play training is to drive to Massachusetts, which is not practical for most parishioners. Four churches (St. Ann’s, Windham; Saint Mary’s, Falmouth; St. Columba’s, Boothbay Harbor; and St. George’s, York Harbor) are collaborating to host one set of Maine trainings each year, with each church rotating hosting duties and hospitality costs.  This will also allow smaller parishes the opportunity to send teachers for training without worrying about added costs incurred by traveling out of state for a weekend.

Council to offer second round of New Initiative Grant funding in 2014

Diocesan Council also approved a second round of grant funding for the fall of 2014. Recognizing that new ideas for ministry can emerge throughout the year, Council will publish an application for the second round after its next meeting on May 16-17. The deadline for applications will be September 1. Start now to think about new ministry possibilities for your church or community.

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Filed under Diocesan Council, Diocesan Life, Faith Development, Ministry and Outreach

2014 New Initiative Grant applications available online

Does your congregation have a great idea for a new ministry and need support to fund it? Consider applying for a New Initiative Grant.

In 2014, $25,000 is available for new ministry projects or new programs within existing ministries. Diocesan Council will consider applications in early February. The deadline for applications is January 15.

Click here for the online application.

To protect your work and provide a copy for your records, download an application worksheet.

In 2013, Diocesan Council awarded six New Initiative Grants, click here to learn more about the kinds of proposals funded.

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Got Ministry? Apply for a New Initiative Grant

A total of $35,000 is available for New Initiative Grants in 2013. Each congregation and organization in the Diocese of Maine is eligible to apply for funding to support new ministries or expanding existing ministries in new directions. Applications will be evaluated on the how closely they meet the Seven Criteria for Mission, approved at Diocesan Convention in 2011.

The deadline for applications is 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 6. Diocesan Council will make grant recommendations at its February 23 meeting (snow date: March 2). Awards will be announced by March 5. Click here for guidelines and an online application form.

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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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Filed under Diocesan Council, Diocesan Life, Ministry and Outreach, The Church in a Changing World

Friday’s the deadline for New Initiatives Fund grant apps

Friday, February 10 is the deadline for New Initiatives Fund grant applications.  Maine congregations are encouraged to apply for grant funds to support new ministry and creative ideas about how to share the Gospel of Christ in your communities. Diocesan Council will review applications in March and grant up to $40,000.

Click here for the description of the program, the seven criteria for mission, and the application form.

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