Reports from several of those churches show a variety of projects and programs that were made possible or assisted by the grant.
Agape Spiritual Community, Waltham, MA
Rev. Matthew Carriker, Pastor of Agape Spiritual Community, says the church is very excited about a new summer camp for kids planned for the summer of 2022. The camp will focus on mindfulness. With help from the grant, Agape has identified two positions to help plan and run the new camp. The church is also looking into some outreach and partnerships with neighboring churches. Part of that partnership will be sharing a presentation called Being Otherwise, described as a multi-sensory, audio-visual presentation about what it is like living a non-binary life.
Faith Congregational Church, Hartford, CT
Faith Congregational Church has used some of the grant funds to extend their virtual worship and to create safer ways to begin in-person worship, including adding a part-time security guard. The church has also focused on the problem of Mass Incarceration through programs inspired by the Greater Hartford Interfaith Alliance Association (GHIAA). An honorarium was used to bring in speakers for a question and answer period about the importance of early intervention, building relationships, and community support for those recently released from prison.
First Congregational Church, Ashfield, MA
First Congregational Church in Ashfield approached the grant with three goals: to increase consciousness about racism, to increase understanding of rural issues, and to record experiences for future storytelling and sharing. The church has made several strides toward these goals. They have created a Racism Working Group and begun planning anti-racism training to be held sometime in late 2021. They have reached out to other churches to examine potential collaboration opportunities and begun working with the local food pantry. And they recently recruited a Communications Assistant who has expertise in social media sharing and storytelling to address the goal of getting their story out to a wider public.
First Congregational Church, Randolph, MA
First Congregational Church in Randolph has applied grant funds to a variety of existing and new initiatives. They have been able to continue their Take Out Tuesday monthly meal program. They have created a college scholarship for youth that was awarded in the spring. They have also put effort into a wide variety of anti-racism programming. Grant money was used to upgrade virtual worship equipment through software, equipment and providing staff.
Melrose Highlands Congregational Church, Melrose, MA
The Melrose Highlands Anti-Racism Team has several plans for engaging the community in their mission to address racial injustice. In October, they hosted an Indigenous Peoples Day event with a showing of a documentary on Native American child removal in the United States. Another major project will be community-based diversity workshops. The team plans to host these workshops in January 2022 for community leaders to create common language around racism and bias. Melrose has also upgraded its audio-visual capabilities in the Fellowship Hall.
Hope Central Church, Jamaica Plain, Ma
Hope Central Church has used much of the grant funds to offer reparations to members of their community who descend from the slavery experience. Through the Boston University School of Theology’s program called Creative Callings, the church has engaged in a program of offering reparations as part of a greater effort to address the harm of slavery in history. In addition to the reparation offerings, the church is exploring college fund opportunities.
As churches involved in the first round of the Faith in Our Future Together grants continue to work toward their goals, the Southern New England Conference is preparing a second round of grants. Application for these second round grants will be due by Jan. 15, 2022. An informational webinar will be held online Nov. 15 at 12 PM. Registration is required for this event. Find out more and register here.
Drew Page is the Media and Data Manager for the Southern New England Conference, and a member of the Conference's Communications Team. He writes and edits news, blogs, and devotionals, produces video, and spends a week each summer as a Dean at Silver...