Board approves four GBHEM-initiated proposals for young clergy

April 01, 2014

By Vicki Brown -

A Sunday focused on call and $600,000 to expand Project Transformation were among four proposals approved by the directors of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry during the March meeting in Mutare, Zimbabwe.  The proposals are aimed at increasing the number of young clergy in The United Methodist Church.

The four proposals approved by the Board of Directors were initiated by staff and were in addition to 91 completed applications for grants from the $7 million Young Clergy Initiative. The 91 applications submitted for the fund created by the 2012 General Conference are still being reviewed by a team of staff and members of the Board of Directors. Those awards will be announced May 2. The deadline for the second round of applications is July 2, 2014.

“If we funded every request, $5.5 million would be given out for the first round,” said the Rev. Trip Lowery, GBHEM’s director of Young Adult Ministry Discernment and Enlistment. Lowery said applications were received from 23 different states and 27 requests were for $100,000.

The expectation is that about $1.5 million will be disbursed each year.

After reviewing the 91 completed applications, the staff also developed GBHEM-initiated grants for projects that staff viewed as having the potential to make a big difference.

Four of those proposals were approved by the directors:

  • Providing $600,000 in funding to help with a national expansion of Project Transformation, a program that attracts college student leaders and engages them in ministry with unserved communities and in revitalizing struggling inner-city churches.
  • Creating a churchwide Sunday concentrating on call, observed on Pentecost Sunday. Suggestions and a liturgical rationale would be offered if a church wanted to celebrate this Sunday at another time. There would be no cost potentially, but up to $18,000 was approved for producing resources if needed. One option would be to partner with an annual conference that applied for a grant to create these resources.
  • Response to call opportunities – personalized response cards, videos of call stories, liturgy resources and suggestions. Resources would be produced by GBHEM staff and distributed online or electronically.
  • Two options for a gap year program were approved. The first would support 200 United Methodist recent college graduates participating in existing programs such as Teach for America or AmeriCorps by giving them opportunities to explore faith and ministry and connect to the church as they serve. This had a cost of $40,000 the first year and $30,000 the second year. The second gap year option would help interested seminaries establish intentional communities for service year participants, including theological and ministry exploration, at a cost of $10,000 to $20,000.

The board also discussed options for creating a chaplaincy corps to train, send and support teams of recent college graduates or seminarians to start new ministries on college campuses that are not served by the UMC through a campus ministry or chaplaincy, but ultimately rejected those proposals.

Read more