Each time the Joint Grants Committee meets to review grant requests, there are a number of applications that follow on a theme. The interesting thing is that the committee is reviewing applications from across the country. (Check out the interactive grant map for details on the geographic disbursement of grants).
The themes highlight that even though people may be geographically distant, they are seeking to live out their faith in similar ways.
Another interesting aspect is that every couple of years, the theme shifts, which shows how people are trying to respond to their ever-changing contexts.
For example, submissions for funding for arts programs as a means of teaching spirituality or fostering healing and self-confidence are a consistent feature in each application round.
From 2014 to 2017, community gardens were frequent features in each granting round. The ministry these projects provided across the country went beyond creating a source of local food – they created a sense of community and strengthened neighbourhood bonds.
Support for starting Community Hubs has been a frequent request over the past three years.
In the spring of 2019, the major themes in applications were leadership capacity, particularly mentoring youth; addressing seniors’ isolation through activities around food; and congregational transitions. You can find the full list of grants on the Foundation’s website.
These common areas of focus feel particularly appropriate given the changes in the church structure and an ever-growing awareness of the damages of isolation.
Strong, competent, and compassionate leadership is particularly important in times of turbulence like those we are experience both within the church as we adjust to new ways of relating to each other and outside the church as political rhetoric divides rather than unites, and trade wars threaten the global economy.
Since its beginning, the Foundation has focussed on leadership and helping people engage their capacity to move the church and its people forward. The Rev. Dr. Jeff Crittenden, past chair of the Foundation’s board, recently spoke on leadership building.
It is heartening to know that across the country people are seeking ways to support, encourage, and train leaders who will keep us spiritually grounded, rooted in our faith, and reaching out to those in need.