In the midst of the ever-changing landscape of ministry in the local setting, congregations that have remained vital and growing are those who are fully embedded in the needs of the larger community. These congregations through engagement make a difference in their local communities and most faithfully live out the call of the gospel, in embodying Christ in the world and working for compassion, justice and mercy for all.
The primary function of our association is to resource, support and strengthen the ministries of our local churches. We do so through providing both professional staff and gifted leaders to assist as needed. We provide financial support for future and present pastors in their professional development, grant financial gifts to congregations involved in mission work and revitalization.
Through the work of the Community Engagement Prophetic Ministry Team we partner with, support and strengthen congregations who see a clear call to engage in the community around them. This ministry could come in a variety of forms as identified by the congregation, such as helping the community engage in opioid crisis, in voter registration, in nurturing race relations, in developing a community garden, bringing the arts to those who have no access to it, etc. Such ministries can be carried out even in partnership with other congregations.
Community engagement is different than mission and outreach ministry which traditionally has aimed to serve and help the other. Community engagement requires partnering and working with the other to influence systemic change and progress. A ministry is defined as community engagement when, among other things:
- It builds connections and relationships in the wider community beyond the church
- It partners with others in the larger community to do the ministry
- It influences systemic change and progress toward well-being and justice for all
Fellowship UCC, Wickliffe, ended its faithful ministry in its community and gifted the Western Reserve Association with its church building, property and other assets. We were able to realize a profit from the sale of those assets of $358,584.36. Today, Living Water Association’s Council designates these funds for community engagement grants. Disbursement will be made in the same manner as our other designated funds; a percentage to be withdrawn each year as recommended by the Budget and Finance Committee. Oversight will be offered for a one year term renewable up to three years.
Applications are to be submitted by April 30, 2019. Grants will be disbursed in June 2019.