Conference to Offer $1 Million in Local Church Grants

Conference to Offer $1 Million in Local Church Grants

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In response to the disruptions caused by both COVID-19 and systemic racism, The Southern New England Conference has announced the launch of the Faith In Our Future Together program, under which up to $1 million in Conference assets will be offered to selected local churches in the form of recoverable grants.

"Recognizing the enormous disruptions of the pandemic to our congregations and our traditional ways of being church – the impact on how we gather, how we fund our ministries, how we carry out our mission in the community – and recognizing the ways in which systemic racism exacerbates this disruption in communities of color, our Southern New England Board of Directors has voted to make available $1 million dollars in Conference assets to support congregations in doing bold new things to adapt their ministries," Conference President The Rev. Jocelyn Gardner Spencer announced at Annual Meeting.

Churches may apply to receive recoverable grants of up to $50,000. Applications will be reviewed by a committee.

"The Conference will enter into new covenants with selected congregations – congregations that show vitality and viability, and are experiencing increased vulnerability due to the pandemic," Gardner Spencer said. "We will provide human resources through the partnership of our staff, and we will provide financial resources in the form of recoverable grants of up to $50,000 to help congregations respond to these disruptions, emerge stronger and thrive in new ways."

"A recoverable grant is not a loan, with a legal obligation for repayment. It is a covenant to return funds to the Conference, as a congregation is able, potentially far in the future, so that those funds may be redeployed to support the ministry and mission of the Conference. It’s paying it forward by another name," Gardner Spencer said.

The $1 million will come from unrestricted funds currently functioning as endowments, half from the historic Connecticut Conference, and half from the historic Massachusetts Conference. These funds have been accumulated over many years.  They consist mostly of unrestricted bequests and gifts, and also include endowments which are so old that no documentation of restriction exists. The Boards in the two Conferences have treated these funds as endowments in the past, using them to generate money for operating and capital budgets.  Using it for this program will reduce future investment income by approximately $45,000 per year.  However, the Boards hope that generosity inspired by the program, as well as gradual recovery of Faith in our Future Together grants over time, will replenish the funds.
 
"There’s no better time than now for us to live into our Conference’s vision to make God’s love and justice real," said Donique McIntosh, the Conference's Minister for Racial Justice. "COVID-19 laid bare, for a wider range of people, the ravages of racism experienced by people of color in such areas as access to healthcare, housing segregation, and mass incarceration. Loss of income and revenue have exacerbated what these communities are experiencing. The grant is one effort in providing support to our siblings. It’s also designed to be a way for our Conference to create the systemic changes necessary for people of color to gain access to financial resources that have not always been accessible. And by loving our neighbors as ourselves, we not only live the gospel but we continue to build a conference that aligns its financial and human resources with its justice-making efforts."         

Churches can read more about the program, and submit applications, here: www.sneucc.org/faith-in-our-future-together







 

Author

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Tiffany Vail

Tiffany Vail is the Associate Conference Minister for Communications for the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ. 

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