Ministry Development Team awards nine ministry grants

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 http://bit.ly/CajonTab.

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.

Previous grants

The following articles detail the grants approved by the Ministry Development Team in 2016, 2017 and 2018:

MDT awards seven grants in 2018

The Ohio Conference Ministry Development Team (MDT) has awarded seven grants totaling $21,860. The MDT approved these 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:

The Server — Crown Hill Mennonite Church is working with an ecumenical group of churches to open a café in Rittman called the Server. The emphasis of the café will be to provide a ministry of presence, providing a space in town where people of all ages can feel safe hanging out and strengthening relationships. Snacks will be available, and patrons will have access to wifi.

Mennonite & Brethren Marriage Encounter — Open Arms Hispanic Ministry is partnering with several congregations (Salem Mennonite in Wooster, Orrville Mennonite, Chestnut Ridge Mennonite and Martins Mennonite) to hold a Marriage Encounter weekend at the Comfort Inn in Millersburg. The weekend presentation will be for both English and Spanish speakers.

Tedrow Homework Table — Tedrow Mennonite Church is providing a homework table program for youngsters in the Tedrow area. Volunteers work with the students on Tuesdays after school. Grant funds will help with costs of the program, as well as a fall field trip.

Doxology Coffee Shop — LifeBridge Community Church in  Dover is opening the Doxology Coffee Shop in the church’s foyer. The goal of the coffee shop is to provide a healthy place that is alcohol-free for people to meet and connect.

Enhancing and Equipping for Worship Workshop — Central Mennonite Church is hosting a worship workshop, Enhancing and Equipping for Worship, on Oct. 5-6. The workshop is being planned with support from the Mennonite congregations in Northwest Ohio (Lockport, Zion, Good Shepherd, West Clinton, Pine Grove, Tedrow, Salem (Mich.), Toledo, and Inlet). Area churches of other denominations are also involved, as well as Fairlawn Haven and First Mennonite Church in Bluffton. Rachel Miller Jacobs will be the featured speaker, and a variety of workshops will be offered.

Healthy Congregations Workshop — Berlin Mennonite Church will host a Healthy Congregations Workshop led by staff from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. The workshop will be scheduled for sometime during spring or summer 2019.

Community Shared Work Space — Oak Grove Mennonite Church in West Liberty is planning to offer shared work spaces at the church’s downtown community center, the Grove. These shared work spaces will be for small business owners, freelancers and independent contractors needing an office space during the week or a place to meet with clients. The hope is to increase community connections in West Liberty.

MDT awards six grants in 2017

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: http://bit.ly/WheelhouseMinistry.

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: http://bit.ly/ReadingBibleWithJesus.

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

Ministry Development Team awards eight grants in 2016

The Ohio Conference Ministry Development Team (MDT) has awarded eight grants totaling $21,614 to Ohio Conference congregations and Conference-related groups. The MDT approved the grants at its Aug. 1 meeting in Upper Sandusky.

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:

Connexus (a developing conflict management center for Holmes and Wayne counties) —Mediation training grants for volunteers, educational services for the public, and publicity and marketing

Huber Mennonite — Renovation of a 40’ x 60’ steel building for use in church outreach activities and community use

Lighthouse Ministries of Canton — Peace curriculum and team-building curriculum for use with grade school students in an after-school program

MennoMedia — The development of a new hymnal for congregations in Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada

Salem Mennonite (Waldron, Mich.) — Development of a welcome area in the congregation’s new worship facility, with a coffee house-style atmosphere in part of the gathering area

Salem Mennonite (Wooster) — Playground set for the church grounds

Toledo Mennonite and partnering organizations— Guns into Garden Tools event in Toledo, to be held in Toledo Oct. 29-30

Wayne County Five-Church Network — Funds for Chestnut Ridge Mennonite, Crown Hill Mennonite, Martins Mennonite, Orrville Mennonite and Salem Mennonite of Wooster to work with consultant JR Rozko to develop their missionary competencies in their local setting

To learn more details about these projects, see the descriptions published in Ohio Mennonite Evangel.