Church groups get $49,315 in Peace with Justice grants

May 22, 2014

The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) has awarded grants totaling $49,315 to 14 Peace with Justice ministries around the world. The grants are awarded in conjunction with the denomination’s Peace with Justice Sunday, which witnesses to God's demand for a faithful, just, disarmed and secure world.

Half of the Special Sunday offering is retained in annual conferences to fund local peace with justice programs. Half is remitted to the General Board of Church & Society to help fund U.S. and global work in social action, public-policy education and advocacy.

Grant awards were determined by GBCS’s Board of Directors during its spring meeting.

Recipients comprise 12 projects in the five U.S. jurisdictions, one in a Central Conference overseas, and one mandated by the 2012 General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-setting body. The South Central Jurisdiction had five recipients, North Central three, Southeastern two, and Northeastern and Western one each.

Grants went to programs that address diverse issues, including immigration, economic empowerment, nutrition, peace, racial justice, death penalty and leadership development.

Grant recipients are as follows:

General Conference

  • Korea Peace March & Advocacy, Belmont, Mass. $5,000.

This is the second part of a four-year plan that originated from a resolution on a Korea Peace March at the 2012 General Conference. The Reunification Committee of Korean United Methodist Churches has been working with the General Boards of Global Ministries, Church & Society and United Methodist Women to implement the plan to establish a lasting peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.

The goal is to replace the 1953 Armistice of Korean War with a peace treaty. More than 120 persons attended a conference in Atlanta in May 2013.

Korea Peace March & Advocacy will be July 26-28 in Washington, D.C., which encompasses the 61st anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. In addition to the march, there will be an opening plenary and solidarity event Saturday, a Korea Peace Sunday worship at an area United Methodist church, and a press conference and lobby visits Monday.

Central Conferences

  • Out of School Young People's Program on Economic & Social Justice, Mindanao, Philippines Conference. $5,000.

The program provides alternative ways to empower out-of-school young people towards economic and social justice. A series of three consultative workshops will provide technical and financial assistance to establish livelihood projects, including vocational training. Young couples involved in small-scale farming will be assisted in organic farming and vegetable gardening, and will be organized into a Savings & Credit Collective to provide emergency credit needs.

North Central Jurisdiction

  • Minimum Wage Campaign, Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), Chicago, Northern Illinois Conference. $1,200.

Interfaith Worker Justice is a national network that works for social change through education, training and advocacy. The grant will help revise and expand faith resources on IWJ’s website, focusing especially on faith traditions’ teachings on just, sufficient compensation for labor. The grant will also promote a national reach out to faith leaders and congregations to play a role in advocating for raising the minimum wage.

IWJ also works with low-wage workers who are making their own case for raising the minimum wage.

  • Lion & Lamb Project, Indiana Conference. $3,500.

Goal of the Lion & Lamb Festival is to engage attendees in issues of spirituality and justice through creative outlets, such as music and art. The hope is to send attendees back to their communities empowered to make a change in the world. The festival, which received a Peace with Justice grant last year, is a space to dive into deep conversation, express different viewpoints and build transformative relationships.

In 2013 the Indiana Conference Young Adult Ministry Team, the Conference Social Advocacy Team and its Mission Team, in partnership with national peace, justice and faith organizations hosted the first Lion & Lamb Festival at Saint Joseph United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne. This grant will help expand involvement of justice and peace organizations from around the country while keeping the price for attendance affordable for young adults.

The Lion & Lamb Festival Planning Team has been moved out of Young Adult Ministries with the goal of widening participation and helping potential attendees know the event is for all ages. More than 300 persons attended the first festival.

  • The Kalamazoo Peace Center, West Michigan Conference. $2,600.

The Peace Center has been an integral part of the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo for 30 years. Mission of the Peace Center is to educate and empower students by providing tools, knowledge and space necessary for mobilizing around issues of justice and peace to create positive change in the community and on the Western Michigan University campus. The center has no religious affiliation, but is housed in the Wesley Foundation.

Northeastern Jurisdiction

  • Berkshire County Forums on Race, New England Conference. $2,500.

First United Methodist Church, Pittsfield, is taking an active role in facilitating public forums in the county to raise consciousness and begin a dialogue about evidence-related discriminatory hiring practices. The forums will address public education to transform community understanding and affirmative action. The Berkshire County Chapter of the National Assn. for the Advance of Colored People is in charge of program content. First UMC is supporting the forums with volunteers, resources and public endorsement.

South Central Jurisdiction

  • Mobile ESL – Daraja, North Texas Conference. $4,640.

This ministry of the North Texas Conference, in partnership with Justice for our Neighbors – Dallas-Fort Worth, seeks to address needs of recently arrived refugees who have moved beyond existing support systems for their resettlement. The grant funds a creative solution to the problem of enabling adult refugees to learn English, which is often thwarted because of work schedules such as late-night shifts. Mobile ESL (English as a Second Language) classes will be offered in the apartment buildings that tend to be first homes for newly resettled refugees.

  • Redemptive Work, Southwest Texas Conference. $4,875.

Parker Lane United Methodist Church, Austin, houses a ministry that addresses persons who are traditionally unemployable, notably those returning from serving time in prison and the chronically homeless. Through needs advocacy, one-on-one cultural counseling and job-application services, Redemptive Work invests whatever each individual requires to overcome barriers to success in the Middle Class workplace culture.

  • Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), Southwest Texas Conference. $5,000.

Justice for Our Neighbors is a ministry of The United Methodist Church that provides free or low-cost legal services to persons with immigration issues. The ministry includes education and advocacy. The Austin Region JFON clinic will be conducted at Servant Church, the Austin District’s newest congregation which is in Asbury United Methodist Church. Servant Church has an intentional outreach to young adults. It ministers in an area with a large minority population that includes a mix of many different immigration groups with diverse needs.

  • Life After Death Row, Southwest Texas Conference. $1,500.

Southwest Texas Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) will use the grant to defray costs of bringing an exonerated Texas death-row inmate to its annual Peace & Justice luncheon at the Southwest Texas Annual Conference in Corpus Christi in June. MFSA has co-sponsored the luncheon for the past three years with the Conference Board of Church & Society.

  • Increasing Healthy Food Choices: Nutrition, Preparation & Access, North Texas Conference. $1,000.

The project of Grow North Texas, Dallas, is offered at two United Methodist community centers: Wesley-Rankin and Dallas Bethlehem Center. North Texas Annual Conference endorsed eradicating extreme asset poverty in two zip codes, one urban, the other rural, by 2025. Food insecurity is a systemic problem facing persons in both of these areas. Ultimate goal of Grow North Texas is community food security through programs such as its Adult Learning Academy, which is offered in Spanish and English.

The project will work in partnership with United Methodist-related agencies and congregations to provide educational opportunities to increase knowledge around economical, nutritious food choices to enable families with low incomes to improve their diets and thereby lower risks for chronic problems such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The curriculum will take participants beyond the kitchen to address issues of food access and food security in their own neighborhoods.

Executive director Grow North Texas is a lifelong United Methodist; Oak Lawn UMC provides office space. Texas Methodist Foundation has granted $10,000 for the project.

Southeastern Jurisdiction

  • Branch Out, Florida Conference. $5,000.

Branches United Methodist Mission is extending its Young Adult Ministry to educate and mobilize on behalf of immigrant rights and non-violence in its area of Florida City and Homestead. The core young adults in the program are all Haitians and Latinos living below the poverty level. Branches UMC is in a unique position to provide leadership with this age group that is already a major focus of the mission.

  • Just Neighbors Ministry, Virginia Conference. $5,000.

Just Neighbors, a mission project of the Arlington District, has been providing legal services to low-income immigrants for 15 years. Its New Hope Project is to help youths and young adults respond to new immigration policies by helping them obtain needed work permits to remain safely in the United States.

Western Jurisdiction

  • Expanding Leadership Development into Pima County, Arizona Conference. $2,500.

Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization Opportunites (PCICEOO) is a new sister organization of the county’s Interfaith Council. Besides civic education and leadership training, PCICEOO will be involved in non-partisan advocacy with low-and middle-income families. It will focus on educating congregations from different denominations on issues that require change. Once an issue is identified, persons will learn how to organize around it, research it and develop leadership skills they’ll need in order to address it.

Grant objectives

To qualify for a Peace with Justice Grant, applicants must work toward achieving at least one of the following objectives:

  • Assist United Methodists in understanding and responding to violence and militarism;
  • Involve United Methodists in efforts to end conflicts and violent aggression around the world;
  • Promote just national and international policies and actions, governmental and non-governmental, seeking to restore communities and respond to the disproportionate effect of injustices on racial and ethnic persons; and
  • Support policies that promote systematic economic justice and the self-development of peoples.

For more information, including application procedures, visit Peace with Justice Grants on the GBCS website. You can also contact the Rev. Neal Christie (, GBCS assistant general secretary for Education & Leadership Formation, (202) 488-5645.

The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Prime responsibility of the board is to seek implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-making body. The board’s primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.