How does the Virginia UM Foundation Serve?
One of the Core Values of the Foundation is “Ministry – It’s all about relationships.” Christ came to serve others and call us to serve in our communities as His hands and feet. We can accomplish that as we build and nurture relationships and use the funds available to create an impact for those whose lives need our touch from Christ. Training, serving, caring, reaching – all desired outcomes in building relationships.
That touch may be resourced throughout the Virginia Conference through our Grants Initiative. In December 2012, the Foundation Board set aside an initial pool of funds from its net earnings to create our first Grants Fund. The following year the Board created a Grants Committee to oversee the process and make recommendations back to the Board. Those first grants totaling $8,000 were sent to six diverse projects – from a bi-district strategic plan in northern Virginia … to a cross-cultural outreach in Staunton. Later at Annual Conference 2014, the Foundation made a special grant to Bishop Cho to support the Clergy Excellence Initiative. From the outset, the Foundation’s goal has been to nurture a spirit of generosity by re-investing our own funds to meet immediate strategic ministry goals and building a LEGACY into the future!
In 2015, the Board designated a portion of the proceeds from a Charitable Remainder Trust – which the Foundation had managed for more than 20 years – to create the Dr. William and Frances Hanna Memorial Grants Fund as a Legacy of his generosity. This grant was designed as a special focus on creating and funding a new strategic ministry initiative that could have potential for wide impact across the Conference. Funds may be used in any variety of directions for clergy or lay; for local church planting and for revitalization. The first distribution of the Hanna Legacy grant was to support “Sharing Our Strengths – an Arlington/Alexandria Bi-District Initiative” – to equip local churches and their leaders with a goal to expand ministries and outreach in their locale through Church Health assessment, prayer workshops, and coaching. Last year’s Hanna Legacy grant went to VA Focus 2020 – Coaching Black Church Leaders. This was a Virginia Conference Initiative to impact local black churches with a goal to equip pastors and lay leaders through assessment and coaching.
Total grants distributed in 2016 were approved by the Board to support 8 different ministries with total distributions of $11,250. Applications received sought more than $190,000 in grants. Beneficiaries were as unique as a Skate Park ministry in the York River District, a food and clothing outreach ministry in the Richmond District and a backyard community outreach in the Harrisonburg District.
In 2015, the Foundation received a gift of residential real estate to fund a new Endowment … the Micah 6:8/No Harm Do Good Endowment. The endowment’s purpose is to provide grants that encourage and develop outreach and ministry to those outside the United Methodist Church in hopes of changing lives and transforming the world. Guiding the discernment process for the distribution of this grant is Micah 6:8 and John Wesley’s Three General Rules: Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God! Last year, the Board approved 8 ministries to receive its first Micah 6:8 Grants.
Last year 33 applications seeking grants of more than $250,000 were received – which is far beyond the capacity of the endowed and invested funds available for Grants. 17 grants were made in December 2015 by Board action – and were as diverse as supporting an inmate training program with GraceInside, and feeding ministry and community outreach in western Henrico County, ministry support for the Henry Fork Service Center in the Danville District, and a immigration legal clinic in northern Virginia. Two special grants were added this year – including scholarships for black and Hispanic church leaders across the conference to attend a special training in Atlanta with Bishop Lewis and the purchase of key training materials for Ordinands as provided through the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Total distributions in 2017 have been more than $28,000!
Now is the opportunity for churches, districts and ministries across the Conference to consider how they may apply for the available grants from the Foundation in one of these three areas. The Foundation’s role is to continue to steward the gifts and endowments in such a way as to expand their charitable purposes and extend God’s kingdom! The deadline for grant applications is October 31, 2017. Distributions will be made in January 2018. To learn more about the purpose and guidelines, click here. To apply for one of the Foundation’s grants, click here.
Our focus is on mission and impact as we provide grants for specific projects and invest in ministries that have the potential to steward potential in building God’s kingdom! Good stewardship is planning well and managing well with purpose in mind!