WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Local Initiatives Grants. Bishop Sally Dyck, Ecumenical Officer for the Council of Bishops said the grants are used to deepen ecumenical and/or interreligious relationships across the United Methodist Connection through local ministries.
This year the bishops specifically looked for creative ways to witness to unity while at the same time keeping in mind the necessity of social distancing. The three recipients are:
Kabacan Ecumenical Young People’s Fellowship in the Philippines. Their project is to create a worship CD entitled Ecumenical Songs of Praises to be performed by young people in the area who are a part of this sixty-member ecumenical/interfaith young people’s fellowship. The young people will make recordings in their homes, and those recordings will be mixed together to create the completed songs. Included in the project will be young people from: the Muslim religion, an independent Christian Church, the Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the United Church of Christ and The United Methodist Church. Each young person and each house of worship will be given the CD for use in their virtual worship services.
The Tennessee Committee on Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships. Their project is a two-phase approach to teaching the bishops’ new ecumenical curriculum to United Methodists, Episcopalians and other Christians in their area. The group will first go through the curriculum with their already-existing partnership with the Episcopal Church (They have most recently been studying together “A Gift to the World,” the full communion proposal). Then, they will branch out to at least five, new, ecumenical small groups and teach the curriculum again, creating additional ecumenical small groups as they go. (Click here for more information about this new curriculum)
The State College Cluster UMC with State College Interfaith Leaders, led through St. Paul UMC. Their project is to create a series of monthly online meetings among local college interfaith leaders to discuss inclusion, diversity and relationship-building. The meetings will include: a discussion on racism and how it affects unity, the reading together of the book The New Jim Crow, a training on hate crimes, and a virtual webinar with a known guest speaker. This last virtual gathering will be open to the public (and will be advertised via the COB Facebook page).
The Council of Bishops offers three (3) grants of $1,000 each to groups within The United Methodist Church for special projects designed to strengthen ecumenical and/or interreligious relationships. Any questions about these programs should be directed to Rev. Dr. Jean Hawxhurst via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.