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Global Mission Grants Cover Four United Methodist Priorities

by Elliott Wright

The Rev. Bau Dang.
The Rev. Bau Dang of the Southern California-Pacific Annual Conference is chair of the Global Ministries' Finance Committee that reviews and recommends mission opportunity grants.
Image by: Cassandra M. Zampini
Source: GBGM Administration

New York, NY, November 10, 2009--More than $1.8 million in "mission opportunity grants" were approved or confirmed by directors of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries at their annual meeting in Stamford, Connecticut, in mid-October.

In addition, almost $400,000 in new grants was approved for projects in Africa and Armenia related to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

The mission opportunity grants were for the first time organized around the denomination's current focus areas (priorities): congregational development, leadership development, ministry with the poor, and global health.

Largest of the allocations, a total of $821,037, representing four grants, one under each of the focus areas, subsidizes the modest salaries of mission personnel hired by mission partner organizations around the world. Many of these partners are regional units of the denomination outside the United States. Of these mission stipends, $365,663 are for persons engaged in congregational development, $202,730 for leadership, $86,694 for ministry with the poor, and $65,950 for health ministries.

The sum of $214,000 from special endowed funds was approved professional health education for members of racial and ethnic groups in the United States. A large part of these funds come from the Harry R. Kendall Fund.

Mission opportunity grants were not as numerous as in some former years because of reduced revenues both from contributions and from investments. The financial report approved by directors shows operating revenue receipts for the first eight months of 2009 at $34.9 million, compared to $39.1 million at the same point in 2008.

Focus Area Grant Totals

The breakdown of the total of $1,814,087 by focus areas was: leadership, $408,730; congregational development, $762,163; ministry with the poor, $318,244, and global health, $324,950.

These do not include grants made by UMCOR, the Women's Division, or contributions made through The Advance, the designated giving channel of the church. Much of the organization's extensive health work is done through UMCOR (see below).

Funding for the new mission opportunity grants come from a variety of sources, including contributions from local church funneled through denominational channels, trusts for designated ministries held by the agency, and various ethnic and racial plans or funds, some of which are supported by special allocations from the United Methodist General Conference, the church's legislating assembly that meets every four years, most recently in 2008.

Racial and Ethnic Leadership and Congregational Grants

Other sizeable grants include $50,000 for the Initiative on Church Transformation of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico. The initiative focuses on congregational and leadership development. A grant of $40,000 in the leadership category goes to the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference to train leaders for new faith communities. The conference currently includes 83 congregations and six new fellowships in Oklahoma and parts of Kansas and Texas.

The Puerto Rico and Oklahoma Indian conference grant are two of a dozen allocations from funds budgeted by the board for Racial and Ethnic Local Churches (RELC). These sums, ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, are mostly in the congregational and leadership categories of the focus areas. One such allocation of $15,000 went to health ministries provided by United Methodist congregations in the Harlem area of New York City. The new RELC grants total $225,000.

The news grants include appropriations from several ethnic and racial plans and fund that promote church growth and targeted ministries in the US. Most of these dollars come from allocations approved by the church's legislating body, the General Conference, and managed by Global Ministries. These included $152,000 in grants made through the Korean American Ministries Plan, and $46,500 through Asian American Language Ministries. The majority of these grants are for congregational and leadership development.

Ministry with the Poor and Health Grants

The Harry R. Kendall grants support projects and programs that primarily benefit African American preparing for health professions. The amount of the stipends ranges from $2,000 to $15,000. Another set of The Harry R. Kendall Leadership Development and Hispanic Leadership Development grants are $2,000 per recipient.

A great many separate UMCOR grants assist persons who are ill or on the margins of society, including those who are survivors of natural disasters. In October, a grant of $150,000 went for replacement of an aircraft in Central Congo--a part of UMCOR Aviation Ministry--that often ferries medical supplies and personnel.

The sum of $120,000 was approved by community-based education in South Sudan, where UMCOR engages in a range of ministries.

UMCOR has a well established program of assistance in Armenia to persons, mostly young women, who become victims of human trafficking. The $100,000 grant strengthens this work.

UMCOR's major emergency relief and rehabilitation grants--amounts more than $10,000--from February through July of 2009 totaled $941,658.37; the total of grants $10,000 or less was $447,360.01. UMCOR allocations are not included in the "mission opportunity grants."

Approved outside of the mission opportunity category was a grant of $24,000 for a rural teachers' training program in Pakistan. This sum came from an endowed trust.

Other mission opportunity grants supporting ministry with the poor include $30,000 from a designated trust for health care and vocational training in Gaza and the West Bank in the Middle East and $28,000, also from a trust, for refugee and migrant ministries in Japan.

The $30,000 for Gaza and the West Bank, from the Angeline Newman Fund for the Middle East and Pakistan, will assist the Department of Services to Palestine Refugees in the operation of health clinics and facilities for children. Another grant of $10,000 from the Newman Fund will assist the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children in Gaza.

Spartanburg Methodist College in Spartanburg, SC is receiving $10,000 for its alcohol education program.

A number grants in the $2,500 to $10,000 range were made under each of the four focus areas. Under Global Ministries policies, grants under $10,000 can be approved by the agency's staff cabinet, comprised of top executive; grants over $10,000 must be approved by directors before payment. Directors also review the smaller allocations at their semi-annual meetings.

Elliott Wright is the information officer of the General Board of Global Ministries.


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Date posted: Nov 10, 2009