A vision that became a reality has been awarded a $15,000 grant from the General Commission on Religion and Race. "At the Table" is an event that was held in the spring and fall of 2017 and brought together those in the conference who are focused on ethnic ministries. The grant outlines that this event-turned-ministry will:
-Bring about change by training church leaders to effectively minister to all people;
-Train these leaders in cultural competency and effective community engagement;
-Provide them with resources to help begin the work of racial reconciliation;
-Continue with follow-up “At The Table” gatherings with Bishops, District Superintendents, and ethnic churches.
"We are so grateful to GCOOR for this grant," said Bishop David Graves. "The work of Jenn Lusher, former Director of Leadership Strategies, was key to this outstanding news. Celeste Eubanks, our new Director of Leadership Strategies, is already involved with this ministry and will give leadership to this in the future. We look forward to building on this momentum and making a difference in our communities. The population in our conference is widely diverse and we celebrate the opportunities to minister to all people."
A total of $463,025 was granted to projects in all five jurisdictions of the United Methodist Church. Rev. Stephen Handy, chair of CORR Action Fund (CAF) committee states, "We are grateful for all of the responses to GCORR's CORR Action Fund grant cycle theme of 'Disrupting Racism.' It is profoundly clear that racism continues to divide our country and even our church, but the investment of hope in these grantees offer an opportunity for incarnational ministries to not only disrupt, but to transcend the atrocities and evil of racism in our nation. Courageous and bold steps are being taken by local congregations, conference offices, and seminaries by starting to build bridges of intercultural communities in a hurting world. To be aligned with and able to help fund this incarnational movement is extremely humbling and a key aspect of the ongoing work of GCORR's ministry model."
GCORR funds projects through the CAF that impact all segments of local community including after-school reading programs for children, mentorship for youth, as well as intentional church and community organizing to create stronger infrastructural support for those on the margins.
General Secretary Erin Hawkins states, "The fact that the majority of the grant funds will be going to local congregations is a testament to GCORR's commitment to supporting ministry 'on the ground.' These projects are examples of disciples who are seeking to transform the world starting in their very own communities."
The CAF committee criteria for the U.S. 2018-2020 proposals was as follows:
- Identify and change at least one racist and/or xenophobic system, policy or practice in the wider community
- Engage people of The United Methodist Church with diverse community partners in frequent vital conversations about racism and xenophobia
- Build understanding and trusting relationships among diverse people in the wider community
The CAF grants support community initiatives that disrupt racism and xenophobia, and are more important than ever in this time of polarization and racial strife.
For a complete list of CAF 2018-2020 grant recipients, click here.
GCOOR contributed to this article