Some years ago, I was pondering if I should go into congregational ministry. I was having lunch with S. Kim Leech, who was then stated clerk for the synod of Lincoln Trails. I asked Kim how I would know if a church is healthy or not? Without hesitation, he responded, “See how much of their budget they are spending on mission. Spending on mission is the key.”
Mission grants are one of the ways the presbytery of Chicago invests in ministry. These investments provide a return of justice, peace, and congregational vitality. Grant funds are the blood flowing through the veins connecting the entire body of the presbytery. The mission committee is the heart that receives and moves these funds to areas that are in need.
Using mission spending as a North Star would say that the Presbytery of Chicago is a very healthy church! The presbytery has a strong Mission committee that is led by Lisa Dagher and Jeff Lehn. In 2021 this committee provided grants to 23 different congregations and entities throughout the presbytery. In other words, 25% of the congregations in the presbytery received funds from the Mission committee. That is impressive!
What is even more impressive is how the funds were used. Often our congregations used mission funds to partner with another congregation or entity that is not Presbyterian. Through our congregations and entities, we were able to feed people who are homeless, evangelize teens through meals, provide books for kids, host a dental program for children returning to school, as well as promote and support mental health in a community. In addition, one congregation used mission dollars to have a church-wide retreat, while another congregation hosted several ice-cream socials as part of community outreach. Your mission dollars were used on the South Side and in the south suburbs, on the North Side and northern suburbs, on the West Side and western suburbs. We covered the entire Chicagoland area including diverse ethnic and racial groups.
In addition to grants that are open to all our congregations, the presbytery has two other grant programs worth mentioning. The Supplemental Grant program and the Small Church program help churches at critical transitions to determine their possible future. These robust programs assist congregations to take part in New Beginnings, coaching, and appreciative inquiry. 13 congregations have used these programs so far. Fantastic!
All told, the presbytery spent over $500,000 in grants in 2021. An impressive number for any organization.
It would be great to see even more congregations obtain grants in 2022! What are some ways to celebrate events in your community? How can your congregation partner with another church to help reduce poverty or engage racism in the Chicagoland area? What are some ways to spiritually nurture your congregation or reach out to your community? Does your congregation qualify for the Salary Supplemental Grant or Small Church program? If you have ideas, the Mission committee may have a grant for you! Click Here to see Mission committee grants.