Northeast Association gives away $50,000 in Ministry Catalyst Grants

Northeast Association gives away $50,000 in Ministry Catalyst Grants

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In early October, the Board of Directors of the Northeast Association of the Southern New England Conference announced a Ministry Catalyst Grant program to benefit its local churches. The grant supports local churches as they navigate worship and outreach in new ways with limited resources. Local churches from the association were invited to apply for a grant up to $5,000 per church for a total of up to $50,000 awarded. Within one month, the grant program reached capacity and eleven churches were granted funds. 

“In my time on the association board I have learned so much from our local congregations, of our varied ways of ‘doing’ and ‘being’ church,” Holly Brauner, association Vice Moderator and chair of this grant project, reflected on this process. “We have been watching innovation in some congregations, and learning about barriers to worship with other faith communities. At this moment, this catalyst grant project felt so right—the right response to this time of pandemic uncertainty as congregations are redefining what it looks like to gather in community.”

Many of the grantee churches are requesting funds in order to purchase new audio, video, and musical equipment, upgrade their wifi connections and software, and train ministers and “tech deacons” on using these new capabilities. Some churches, while being remarkably adaptable to date, have previously relied solely on their pastor’s personal smartphone or computer for broadcasting. Rev. Joe Amico, pastor of Tabernacle Congregational Church in Salem, Massachusetts, reported, “The association’s Catalyst Grant has helped us purchase a ‘super computer,’ more cameras, and better microphones to further enhance our praise of God!” 

While the pandemic has created a new urgency for these changes in ministry, we know that the effects of this grant will be long-lasting, as streaming and other forms of online ministry are here to stay. “The fact that some of our older members could once again worship in the comfort of their homes along with members who had moved away or were just out of town convinced us this was going to continue even after we resume worship in person,” Rev. Amico observed. The association board hopes to create similar programs in the future as funds become available, strengthening the bond between our association and its churches and working to make the love and justice of Jesus even more real. Lynn Horton, Council President of Central Congregational Church in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, a grant recipient church, remarked, “We are so grateful for the opportunity to extend Central Congregational Church's reach and welcome to current and new parishioners beyond our building's walls. With God (and technology!) anything is possible!”

Rev. Adam Isbitsky is a member of the Northeast Association Board of Directors and the Designated Term pastor of the Ballard Vale United Church in Andover, MA.
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