Grants Committee Minutes – 24 March 2021 Revised

 Present: Betty Angelini, Chair; Lisa Allgood, Amy Duiker, Chip Hardwick, Fran Lane-Lawrence, Georgia McCall 

Betty opened the meeting with prayer and an introductory exercise: note your context, why you said “yes” to being on the team, and what are you looking forward to this summer? 

  • Betty – pastor First Presbyterian Church (Warren, Ohio), with previous experience as a camp director; said yes because I was part of the 2020 team and this is still calling me; this summer looking forward to becoming a grandmother! 
  • Amy – pastor at Sugarcreek Presbyterian (Kettering, Ohio); said yes because I love seeing this working in a Matthew 25 context and wanted to be encouraging to our churches and youth; this summer looking forward to my two children attending Kirkmont for the first time! 
  • Georgia – clerk of Session at Trinity United Church (Flint, Michigan) and a Commissioner to the Synod; said yes because I am committed to the intentional multicultural Matthew 25 approach and some of our youth have benefitted from grants in the past; this summer looking forward to see my two sisters! 
  • Lisa – Executive Presbyter at the Presbytery of Cincinnati; said yes because like Betty I was part of the 2020 team and wanted to take it to the next level; this summer looking forward to traveling again! 
  • Fran – Co-Presbyter and Stated Clerk for the Presbytery of Lake Michigan; yes because I have grant experience and wanted to support the Synod; this summer looking forward to my daughter’s wedding in May! 
  • Chip – Synod Executive; love this ministry extension to our churches and students; this summer looking forward to being able to have in-person meetings! 

Betty then led the team through a meditation on Matthew 25:31-46. After reading through the verses twice, the group reflected on what spoke to each and how it related to the work of the grants committee. We agreed that we are building the Kingdom through being a blessing to those who receive the grants and being blessed in giving. The Scripture and the mission statements give us the “why” of what we are charged to do as they relates to the grants and scholarship committee. That is, we are charged to recognize and address the needs of the marginalized with the resources we have available. 

Synod Mission Statement 

We, the Synod of the Covenant, in partnership with our presbyteries, congregations, the General Assembly and other faith communions, are called and sent by God to be a living, active and inclusive witness to the love of Christ. 

Matthew 25 embrace these areas of focus: 

  • Building congregational vitality by challenging people and congregations to deepen their faith and get actively and joyfully engaged with their community and the world. 
  • Dismantling structural racism by advocating and acting to break down the systems, practices and thinking that underlie discrimination, bias, prejudice and oppression of people of color. 
  • Eradicating systemic poverty by working to change laws, policies, plans and structures in our society that perpetuate economic exploitation of people who are poor. 

Chip discussed the history of this grants endeavor in the Synod of the Covenant. Originally (as he learned at 9:00AM just this morning!) the grants were created and managed by CECA (Cabinet of Ethnic Church Affairs), focusing on grants to BIPOC students and churches. 

All three grant areas (Scholarships, Racial Ethnic, and New Covenant) were broadened about 5 years ago, but the essential requirements of the grants have remained the same, and were intended to support Synod goals of social justice, campus ministry, and congregational vitality. 

The Synod moved responsibility for the racial ethnic scholarships to the Leadership Committee and for the racial ethnic church grants to the Grants Committee around 2015. CECA is not currently active, but one of the Synod’s goals in 2021 is to explore how BIPOC communities and individuals can best contribute to the leadership of the Synod in substantial ways. 

When the Administrative Commission assumed jurisdiction of the Synod in February 2020, all ministries were suspended, but by summer the Grants Committee had been re-established with 4 members (Betty Angelini, Lisa Allgood, Chip Hardwick, and Brady Radford (member of the AC)). The Grants Committee established new applications and administered $90,000 across the scholarships and two grant areas in 4 months’ time (half for scholarships and student COVID emergency grants, and half for R/E and NC grants). Scholarships were awarded to all applicants who submitted completed applications (the full amount of available grant money). Most of the NC and R/E grants were awarded (the full amount of available grant money), with more than half going to BIPOC-related congregations and work. The team then assessed the process and proposed a series of improvements, both to the applications as well as to the overall process. 

In January 2021, the 2020 Grants Team made recommendations to the Administrative Commission of the Synod of the Covenant, and these were approved. 

  1. That the 2021 Grants Team will seek intentional diversity and have the following make-up, with staff support provided by the SOC Interim Executive:
    1. One SOC Commissioner
    2. Four At-Large Members
    3. Two Presbytery Staff Leaders
    4. The Treasurer of the Synod
  2. The 2021 Grants team will offer help and assistance in the grant writing process.
  3. That the Higher Education Scholarships become Higher Education Scholarships for Christian Leaders in order to better align with Synod goals
    1. Available to students pursuing their first masters in theology, undergraduate college/university or associates or vocational degrees
    2. Applicants will be asked to describe how they provide leadership for Christian ministries which live into the Matthew 25 goals
    3. Special consideration will be given to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students and students with significant financial need, in line with Mt 25 goals (structural racism and systemic poverty).
    4. The process will be announced in April, with final applications received by May 31st. Applications must be complete to be reviewed. Awardees would be announced no later than June 30, 2021.
  4. That the Racial-Ethnic and New Covenant Grant programs be combined into one Matthew 25 Grant Program (funding efforts to build congregational vitality, dismantle structural racism, and eradicate systemic poverty), in order to better align with the goals of the Synod.
    1. Available to churches, ministries, and institutions which are PC(USA)
    2. Special consideration will be given to churches, ministries, and institutions which are primarily BIPOC and/or whose proposals center directly on the same context (neighborhood) as the congregation.
    3. The process will be announced in July, with final applications received by October 15th. Applications must be complete to be reviewed. Awardees would be announced no later than November 15, 2021.

This year we have $87,000 to award: $37,000 for scholarships, and $50,000 for the grants. The Synod’s Ministry Focus team is hopeful that refugee accompaniment can be one focus of the grants program.

ACTION ITEM: Lisa will distribute the re-worked scholarship instructions and application to the team for input. The team will send comments and questions back to Lisa for collation and we will finalize at the next meeting. (Post meeting note: instructions and application distributed 25 March 2021). 

Chip closed the meeting in prayer. 

Our next meeting is 12 April, 2021, at 7PM. 

Coram Deo, Lisa