New and renewing congregations receive seed money, sprout progress
Written by Gregg Brekke
December 2008 - January 2009
Eleven churches share $290,000 in support
The UCC draws ever closer towards reaching its goal, set in 2006, of 250 new congregations by 2011. Actions by conferences and the Local Church Ministries (LCM) board, through the New Church Leadership Initiative, bring the total number of new churches in this period to 85.
At its fall meeting, the LCM board voted to allocate $290,000 in support of 11 new and renewing congregations in nine Conferences.
Six new churches include a Marshallese congregation in Tucson, Ariz.; a Hispanic congregation in Phoenix; a multicultural-multiracial congregation in Baton Rouge, La.; and three Euro-American congregations, one each in Owasso, Okla., Flemington, N.J., and Canton, Ohio.
The five renewing congregations are a Filipino congregation in Honolulu; an African-American congregation in New Orleans; a multiracial-multicultural congregation in Santa Rosa, Calif.; and two Euro-American congregations, one in Somerville, Mass., and the other in Louisville, Ky.
These congregations received the final allocation of 2008 support which totaled $661,500. Support was granted to 19 congregations from 16 conferences, as well as one conference development program. Five of the new and renewing congregations have expressed the intent of being open and affirming.
In total, the Evangelism Ministry received requests of $1,274,500 for 24 congregations from 17 conferences at their fall meeting. Total funding requests for 2008 equaled $2,753,965 from 37 new and renewing congregations.
Funds for new and renewing congregation grants come from Our Church’s Wider Mission, the New and Renewing Churches Endowment Fund, Strengthen the Church Special Mission Offering and Make a Difference.
"The good news is the increased number of new and renewing congregations in the UCC," said the Rev. David Schoen, minister and team leader for Congregational Vitality and Discipleship. "The difficult news is the lack of funds available to support these congregations."
Schoen invites UCC members to continue their contributions to the New and Renewing Churches Endowment Fund, which enables sustained growth in new churches, and dedication for congregational revitalization.
Information on Congregational Vitality, including new and renewing church activities, can be found at www.ucc.org/newchurch.