Ministry Accelerator designed to help local church ministries grow

Ministry Accelerator, a new program of the Virginia Conference Common Table, took its first steps at the Virginia United Methodist Center Jan. 28-29. Through this new program, the Common Table is providing additional support, other than just financial aid, to local ministries in order to help them grow and be effective and impactful ministries.

Seven local church ministries that were recipients of 2016 Special or Sustaining Program Grants from the Common Table, accepted an invitation to participate in the pilot. They met with mentors from the Richmond area, including leaders from local consulting firms, at the conference center in Glen Allen for the two-day event to identify action steps required to make the biggest improvement in their organizations over the next six months.

As part of a new pilot program called Ministry Accelerator, business consultants and mentors met with representatives of seven ministries to give them advice on how to grow and be more effective.

The idea for the program started when the Rev. Chris Bennett, Common Table member and pastor of St. Matthew’s UMC in Mechanicsville, compared startup business cultures with that of new church starts and realized their similarities offered opportunities to church ministries. As a member of the Grants Committee of the Common Table, Bennett thought they could do more than just give money to these ministries.

“We offer grants through the Common Table called Special Grants and Sustaining Grants,” Bennett said. “Instead of just handing out money, we wanted to see what we could do to help these ministries grow. So we’re offering the Accelerator [program] as a way to accelerate their ministry, accelerate the great work they are already doing and help them make a greater impact in their local communities.”

Special and Sustaining Program Grants are designed for programs outside of normal conference and local church funding processes. Funds are provided from conference apportionments and contributions from Virginia Conference United Methodist Women.

Special Program Grants are intended to provide startup funding for up to three years to innovative programs of tangible and caring outreach that is beyond a local church’s current financial resources. Sustaining Program Grants are available for ministries that received three years’ worth of Special Grants in the past and still need financial assistance in order to continue.

In 2016, 16 Special Program Grants and 14 Sustaining Program Grants were awarded for a total of $115,100.

Ministry Accelerator participants are:

1. Community Garden of Basic UMC, Waynesboro, VA
Mission: Create a community garden to supply a weekly meal offered to local under-resourced residents; offer residents healthful food choices. Impact: Serving 60 people/week and resourced 840 meals.

2. Circles Ashland of Duncan Memorial UMC, Ashland, VA
Mission: To work with families below the poverty line in Ashland to help them build an economic stability plan and identify financial, emotional and social resources available to them as they work to move out of poverty. Impact: 15 families (projected) per cohort.

3. Tuesday’s Table of Stanardsville UMC, Stanardsville, VA
Mission: To reach out to the financially struggling in their community by offering a weekly community meal free of charge. Impact: 400 people.

4. Neighbor Helping Neighbor of Kenbridge UMC, Kenbridge, VA
Mission: Assist low-income owners with home repairs in one of the poorest counties in the state. Impact: 18 individuals, 7 homes.

5. Food Pantry at Heritage UMC, Virginia Beach, VA
Mission: To build lasting relationships with people in the community by feeding needy families in the community. Impact: 2346 individuals annually.

6. Food Pantry at Calvary UMC, Stuarts Draft, VA
Mission: To offer food to community members in need through a food pantry at the local church. Impact: 32,000 individuals annually.

7. Agape Christian Children’s Community Center, Horntown, VA
Mission: To break down racial barriers and promote economic justice and self-development of peoples in the community spreading the love of Jesus Christ by offering programs for children, two nutritional meals and two nutritional snacks daily, and a safe place for children to play. Impact: 364 children per year.

Participants from this event will meet again in August to share their progress.

Click here to view video about the Ministry Accelerator program.

Read more about the Ministry Accelerator program in the March issue of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, available Feb. 23.



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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
(804) 521-1100
Click here for directions to the Center