The Ohio Conference Ministry Development Team (MDT) has awarded four grants totaling $7,000. The MDT approved these grants at its Aug. 27 meeting. Grants will provide funds toward the following projects:

Student Study Center — Beginning in the fall of 2021, First Mennonite Church of Canton and Lighthouse Ministries plan to be an extension site of Bethel University (Indiana). Bethel is be­ginning a new program called the Bethel University Extension Program (BU-X) in which the university partners with local churches and community organizations to offer high-quality, affordable college degree programs to members of their commu­nities. Grant funds will help to furnish a section of First Mennonite Church’s building so it can be transformed into a stu­dent study center for the BU-X program.

Combined Church Video Series — Several Wayne County con­gregations are joining together to focus on intercultural ministry and racial reconciliation. Participating congregations include   Salem Mennonite (Wooster), Salem Mennonite (Kidron), Crown Hill Mennonite, Orrville Mennonite, Martins Mennonite, Oak Grove Mennonite (Smithville), and Wooster Mennonite, as well as Open Arms Hispanic Ministries.

They plan to record videos with a variety of individuals who can share from their own experiences and expertise on racism in America. The videos will be bilingual, either spoken in Spanish with English subtitles or vice versa, depending on who is being interviewed. Grant funds will help to pay an honorarium to Hospice of Wooster, which is not charging for the use of its facilities, equipment and staff to make the videos.

Racial Equity as a Christian Commitment — Central Christian School in Kidron is focusing on increasing capacity for racial equity as a Christian community. For several days in the spring of 2021, Central Christian will have a Christian/faith-based educator present on the topic of racial equity and reconciliation. The con­tent and curriculum of the sessions will contain both pre- and post-session reflections and work for deeper transformation. Grant funds will help bring this presenter to Central.

Community Garden Expansion —Orrville Mennonite Church is providing community garden space to residents of a nearby apartment complex which offers housing for low-income persons. Grant funds will help bring a water line to the garden area and provide a shed for participants to store their gardening equipment.

Since 2012 the MDT has awarded grants each summer, providing funds for a wide variety of projects and mission initiatives. This year the MDT prioritized  projects that address racial injustice and immigration issues.