The Many Faces of Outreach Ministry Grants Support Innovation


September 01, 2017

The churches within the Missouri Conference are reaching out to their communities in many innovative ways to build community, to inspire participation, and to interpret the timeless message of Christ in a changing world. The Ministry Grant Program of the Missouri United Methodist Foundation strives to offer financial support and affirmation for these projects. Here are three recent examples:

Illuminations Outreach Ministry: Perryville United Methodist Church

In the words of Rev. David Duncan, “Illuminations” is an outreach ministry that “has grown from one person’s dream of bringing dance and hope to all, to a ministry that is gaining recognition community-wide and beyond.” That dreamer is Jennifer Allie Friedrich who organized a dance workshop at her church in the summer of 2015 for people with disabilities. That was followed by another workshop that fall and a Christmas worship service involving and inspiring the entire congregation and the surrounding community.

In 2016 the ministry received a Foundation Ministry Grant of $2,500 to help underwrite costs for a larger workshop and performance at the local community center. “Illuminations” has also expanded to maintain a Seniors program at two local residential care facilities. As Friedrich said “The…results have gone way beyond initial expectations.” Her original idea of a single dance workshop for all abilities has turned into “almost three years of spreading our message of hope, inclusion and dance for all.”

The congregation has been enthusiastically supportive from the beginning, and the pastor reports positive increases in worship attendance, new members and overall involvement. (To read inspiring local press coverage about this program, visit www.perryvillenews.com)

Community Outreach Activities: St. Luke’s UMC (Kansas City)

“We were looking for ways to connect with our neighbors,” said Rev. Steve Williams, “so we designed a series of monthly, off-site outreach events.” The events included a Kite Flying Day, a Blessing of the Animals service, an Easter Egg Hunt, a Trunk-or-Treat Harvest Festival, and a Wacky Olympics. Still planned are a community picnic and a Christmas event.

The Foundation Ministry Grant funding of $2,000 helped provide food, equipment and publicity for the events, including “branded” St. Luke’s UMC freebies (water bottles, totes, hand sanitizer) “so that folks would have a reminder of us after the event was over,” said Williams. Some of the advertising was printed in English, Spanish, Urdu, Russian, Arabic, French and Xitswa representing “a few of the many languages spoken in this little corner of Kansas City.”

Williams notes that “each event taught us some things that we were able to use to make the next event more fruitful and successful! We are already thinking about what kinds of things we can do in 2018.”

“Cross Culture” Video Bible Study: Morning Star Church

Morning Star Church planted a St. Louis city campus called The Word At Shaw. With the assistance of a Foundation Ministry Grant of $5,000, Pastor Keith Scarborough and others developed a four-part Bible study curriculum around the issues of diversity and division within society and how the church can truly be a place of inclusion and meaningful outreach to all. Through a series of videos, study groups are guided through scriptures and commentaries. The videos and related materials are available free of charge on their new website www.crossculturestl.com.

‘Mustard seed ministries’ are being planted and are flourishing in congregations across Missouri. The Foundation Ministry Grant program is a resource to help your congregation nourish those seeds that will lead to a truly bountiful harvest. Grant application deadlines are October 1 and April 1 each year. Information and application materials are available at www.mumf.org or call the Foundation at 800-332-8238 to learn more.