Ministry with the Poor Project
Receives Major North Carolina Grant
Raleigh, NC, May 6, 2009--A $300,000 grant will cover part of the start-up costs of a United Methodist three-year program to lift 75 families out of poverty and help communities to make strides toward eliminating poverty in three counties of western North Carolina.
The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center in Raleigh made the award to assist North Carolina Circles, which is part of The United Methodist Church's emphasis on ministry with the poor.
Circles works directly with families in poverty through circles of concern and care. Trained "allies" provide support systems as families map out their own plans of action for achieving self-sufficient, meaningful lives.
Partners in the program include the Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference of the denomination, the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, districts and congregations of the church, and ecumenical participants. The grant went to the RFD Community Development Corporation of the annual conference, led by the Rev. Alan Rice, who drafted the grant application to the rural development center.
Another prominent player in Circles is the Move the Mountain Leadership Center that developed the Circles model. Circles is now being utilized in 20 states throughout the nation. Scott Miller, head of the center, is co-founder of Circles and an advisor to the United Methodist project.
The North Carolina counties in the United Methodist effort are Anson in the southern part of the state and Wilkes and Yadkin in the north. The work is being underwritten by church, foundation, and other funding streams. These sites can also become training bases for extending the model through United Methodist linkages across the country and, possibly, in other countries. Move the Mountain currently has 11 training sites, although only one, located in Pensacola, Florida, is in the southeast.
North Carolina Circles is one of five anti-poverty pilots being undertaken by the General Board of Global Ministries, working with partners, as part of the denomination's ministry with the poor emphasis. The four others are slated for sites outside the United States. Jerald McKie, an associate general secretary of Global Ministries, is the staff liaison to Circles and assisted in organizing the pilot.
The mission agency will provide a missionary as coordinator of Circles in Anson County. Coordinators in Wilkes and Yadkin Counties will be local persons who have been trained at Circles sites in other locations.
The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center is a private, not-for-profit organization funded by both private and public sources. It was set up in 1986 to develop and implement economic strategies to improve the quality of life in rural communities. The grant that will benefit Circles was included in allocations totaling $5.4 million to create 400 jobs and aid projects in 31 of North Carolina's 85 counties.
Ministry with the poor is one of four current focus areas of The United Methodist Church. The others are new church starts, leadership development, and global health. Global Ministries has staff teams assigned to each area. The internal ministry with the poor working group is led by Rachel Simeon, interim deputy general secretary for Mission Contexts and Relationships, a program unit.
Date posted: May 06, 2009