The Justice and Reconciliation Team helped a number of churches reach across barriers of race and class to be in ministry with new people in the past year. We helped send a group of young people from various churches to Nassau in the Bahamas to connect with the underserved poor who live in the shadows of the opulent resorts. We helped supply equipment and interpreters so Central UMC in Charlotte could reach their Hispanic/Latino neighbors. We helped keep the preschool at Whitnel UMC open, as they adjust their ministry to meet the needs of their Hispanic/Latino neighbors who cannot afford tuition. We are helping St. John’s UMC in Greensboro to provide tutoring and character development for second- and third-grade African-American boys. We helped Central UMC in Asheville launch a new worshiping community called Daybreak. Daybreak caters to people who are in recovery.
The Bishop and the Cabinet made more cross-racial appointments in 2014 than ever before. The Northern Piedmont District saw many of these appointments and so developed a partnership with Visions Inc. to provide coaching and resources for churches and clergy who were undergoing those shifts. The Justice and Reconciliation Team helped fund this effort, as we are helping Laughlin Memorial and Newlyn Street UMCs host Dismantling Racism workshops. We funded and helped plan the 2015 conference-wide Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
We supported many efforts to help create healthy, thriving ethnic churches. Memorial UMC planned a Just for Men Conference aimed at building strong, faith-filled risk-takers who are committed to bringing others to Jesus, and we helped them fund this effort. We helped send groups of youth from Triad Native American UMC in Greensboro to a leadership conference in Pennsylvania and an AIDS conference in Denver. We helped send the Women’s Association of First Hmong UMC in Charlotte to Michigan for a conference. We helped Faith UMC in Mooresville restart their community seniors’ ministry. We helped send 15 African-American clergy to the Black Pastors’ Convention in Atlanta.
We contributed to the North Carolina Council of Churches and its ongoing ecumenical efforts to promote unity and justice across the state. We helped send the Rev. Tim Moore to Hiroshima where he presented a paper at a peace conference. The Rev. Sarah Kalish represented us by going to Denver for an AIDS conference. We helped send Deaconess Cameron Kempson to the Shalem Institute in Washington, D.C. Kempson plans to combine spiritual direction and gardening as a means to help women who are rebuilding their lives.
In total, we awarded more than $106,000 in grants to fund these emerging initiatives that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. We will have a reduced amount from which to give in grants in 2015, but we still encourage you to apply.