The Ohio Conference Ministry Development Team (MDT) has awarded nine grants totaling $24,750. The MDT approved these grants at its Aug. 19 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. The MDT has awarded these grants each year since 2012.

The grants will provide funding toward the following projects:

Soccer Snack Outreach — Sonnenberg Mennonite Church in Kidron is serving its community by providing snacks and drinks to children who participate in soccer practice at the local soccer fields near the church building. In explaining how this outreach effort began, Jeremy Patterson of Sonnenberg Mennonite noted, “We recognized that offering snacks and drinks was a practical way to let parents and caregivers know we see their effort…and we wanted to help in whatever small way we could.” Grant funds will go toward the purchase of a sun canopy, coolers, a drink cooler and a table which can be used in this outreach.

Youth Events — Lee Heights Community Church in Cleveland is receiving funding for two youth programs intended to promote personal development, career exploration and faith formation, a Youth Exposure Trip and a Youth Mini-Retreat. The Youth Exposure Trip will take youth from Lee Heights to visit two historically black universities in southern Ohio, Central State University and Wilberforce University.

Community Funeral Meal Ministry — Bethel Mennonite Church in West Liberty is beginning a new ministry. The congregation will offer hospitality and spiritual care to local families at the time of a funeral or memorial service by providing a meal, a comfortable place to gather and eat, a caring presence, and optional grief resources. The congregation has learned from a local funeral director that families who don’t have a church home sometimes desire a place to have meal in connection with a funeral service. Pastor Rebecca Kauffman noted, “We want to offer the meals without giving a sense of obligation to repay financially or to attend our church, yet at the same time to convey a message of care and welcome to our congregation, being open to their spiritual questions.”

Anabaptist Discipleship Website — Zion Mennonite Church is developing a website intended to connect pastors and leaders with resources, training and discussion focused on missional discipleship. The website will function as a virtual platform for a missional discipleship learning community across Mennonite Church USA. Corben Boshart, one of the team pastors at Zion, is developing the website. The site will provide access to webinars, blogs, discussion boards, assessments, peer-to-peer coaching, and other resources.

Faith and Racial Justice — Central Christian School plans to create classroom libraries to make intercultural books available to the school’s mostly rural white students. “Teachers look for opportunities to share information and appeal to faith values through curriculum and classroom discussions on racial justice and diversity,” said CCS Superintendent Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi. “Having intentionally diverse books available offers the opportunity to learn from those who have not had a voice at this school.”

CCS Art Memory Project — Central Christian School students will be participating in “The Memory Project,” a global initiative to connect students from around the world in acts of kindness and relationship building through sharing student art work with one another. The intent is to interact with children from countries which are experiencing tension with the United States. This year, students will create and receive artwork from Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and/or Syria. Previously only high school students at Central participated in this exchange. Grant funds will allow Central’s elementary and middle school students to participate.

Open Arms Hispanic Ministry  Office — With the support of partnering churches, businesses and generous individuals, Open Arms Hispanic Ministry has been welcoming Hispanic individuals to the community for the past 16 years. Recently, Orrville Mennonite Church has offered to provide office space for Open Arms Hispanic Ministry at no charge. Having office space will create a stronger visible presence in the local community. Grant funds will assist in the purchase of office equipment and technology, as well as a sign.

CajonTab Drum Classes — Lighthouse Ministries in Canton is expanding its arts program to include drum classes in its afterschool programs. Director  Darin Nissley said, “We believe that many of our students are able to discover their God-given gifts through the exploration of the arts.” Grant funds will support the purchase of 13 10-inch CajonTab drums. Following the purchase of these drums, the Lighthouse will be able to offer a drum class in addition to the other arts classes offered. To watch a video featuring a CajonTab drum, see

Akron Congolese Community Van — Crown Hill Mennonite Church in Rittman is working with the Akron Swahili Community Church to purchase a 15-passenger van. In the past several years, the International Institute of Akron has been resettling Congolese refugees in Akron. Crown Hill Pastor Thomas Dunn notes, “One of the major needs within the Congolese community is transportation. Some are beginning to purchase cars and getting a driver’s license, but for many, having transportation is still a large need.” The release of grant funds for this project is  contingent on ownership and insurance details being finalized.