The Ohio Conference Ministry Development Team (MDT) has awarded six grants totaling $22,100 to Conference congregations and related groups. The MDT approved the grants at its Aug. 23 meeting. Funding for these grants comes from surplus funds that had accumulated during years in which the Conference ended its fiscal year with a surplus.

Grants will provide funding toward the following projects:



Wheelhouse — A  Christian Bike Cooperative

Wheelhouse — A Christian Bike Cooperative, located in Lima, Ohio, is receiving a grant toward its ministry of refurbishing bicycles and making them available to people in need. Two Ohio Conference congregations, Salem Mennonite Church in Elida and Pike Mennonite Church in Elida, have been partnering with Elm Street Church of the Brethren in Lima to provide this service, which is located on the grounds of Elm Street Church of the Brethren. (The church location is well suited to a bicycle ministry since the Ottawa River Bikeway runs directly behind the church property.) Currently, 12 other area congregations have become affiliated with this ministry, and others are in the process of becoming affiliated.

Organizers describe the Wheelhouse’s service as a “build a bike” program for those in need. Recipients work with Wheelhouse volunteers to refurbish donated bicycles. Upon completion, the recipient receives the bike, a helmet and a lock. The Christian volunteers use the shared project time to build relationships, share their faith and encourage clients to connect with a church.

The Wheelhouse receives bicycles from area churches that hold bike drives, as well as individuals and other community agencies. People in need are referred to the Wheelhouse through social service agencies and pastors.

Ohio Conference grant funds will go toward the building of an on-site storage facility which will house bikes and repair parts, as well as serving as a shop extension. Currently, the donated bicycles are stored off site. The Wheelhouse has also applied for a grant for this project from the Northern Ohio District Church of the Brethren, and Everence has invited the Wheelhouse to apply for a Chapter Grant.

To learn more about the Wheelhouse’s ministry, see the feature from The Lima News:

Branches of Hope — Ramas de Esperanza

Millersburg Mennonite Church is receiving a grant toward the formation of Branches of Hope —Ramas de Esperanza, a ministry to support Hispanic immigrants in Holmes County. Services will include translation, transportation, food and housing assistance, and social services.

Laughter is Sacred Space

Grant funds will go toward the presentation of Laughter is Sacred Space by Ted & Co. in Springfield. The grant will help Southside Mennonite Church in Springfield, Huber Mennonite Church in New Carlisle and the local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), who are teaming up to bring this production to Springfield in the spring of 2018.

By bringing this drama to Springfield, event organizers hope to provide individuals in Springfield and the surrounding area with a safe space to think about and discuss the issue of suicide.

RAW Tools

An Ohio Conference grant will help fund the creation of a local chapter of RAW Tools in Toledo for the Great Lakes region. In 2016 individuals from RAW Tools, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization focused on peacemaking, came to Toledo for an event called “Guns to Gardens.” Blacksmiths from RAW Tools forged a gun taken out of the Toledo community into a garden tool to be used in an urban garden. (An Ohio Conference grant helped to make that event possible.)

Partners in the effort to create a Toledo chapter of RAW Tools include Toledo Mennonite Church, Shalom Counseling and Mediation Center, RAW Tools, and Creative Peaceful Resistance (CPR).

In addition to continuing “Guns to Gardens” demonstrations, the Great Lakes chapter of RAW Tools also will provide conflict resolution and restorative justice services for Toledo. Partnering with Shalom Counseling and Mediation Training Center in Archbold, the local chapter will be able to offer mediation training and services to the community.

Marriage Retreat — Wayne County Five-Church Network

Grant funds will support a marriage retreat in February 2018 sponsored by a network of five churches in Wayne County. The five churches include Salem Mennonite (Wooster), Chestnut Ridge Mennonite, Martins Mennonite, Orrville Mennonite and Crown Hill Mennonite. The retreat will be open all interested couples in the Ohio Conference, not just couples from the five churches. The retreat will be designed for both English and Spanish speakers.


“Reading the Bible with Jesus”

A Conference grant will help bring Bryan Moyer Suderman of Kitchener, Ontario, to Ohio to lead a weekend of scriptural study titled “Reading the Bible with Jesus” Feb. 16-17. The four-session series, which will be held at Salem Mennonite Church in Kidron, will focus on the book of Mark. Participants will consider Jesus’ approach to scripture.  This event will be open to all who wish to attend. To learn more about Bryan Moyer Suderman’s approach to teaching about scripture, see the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary website:

Congregations partnering in this effort to bring Bryan Moyer Suderman to Ohio include Martins Mennonite in Orrville, First Mennonite in Canton, Summit Mennonite in Barberton, Sonnenberg Mennonite and Salem Mennonite in Kidron, as well as Central Christian School.