Six months ago, it was my joy to announce to the congregation the launch of our John 3:16 Innovation for Ministry Fund, First Baptist’s primary source for resourcing Christian creativity and innovation to serve the kingdom of God through the ministries and mission of First Baptist Church on Fifth. Created through an anonymous gift to the church following a grant proposal for this type of work, the John 3:16 Innovation for Ministry Fund begins with $250,000 to be spent for creative ministry over three years.
Then six weeks ago, the Grant Advisory Group excitedly announced that applications for the mini-grants were open! For at the heart of the John 3:16 Innovation for Ministry Fund is the funding of multiple mini-grants, proposed from within the community to resource new ideas and initiatives around the church’s four priorities for mission and ministry.
And today, I join with our Grant Advisory Group who is delighted to announce the first two group recipients of $1500 mini-grants to fund new ministry initiatives of our church!
The first has been granted to the Homebound Ministry Team, led by Florence Wiley and Minerva Fox, for the purpose of creating a shared worship experience at Brookridge Retirement Home by live-streaming our Sunday worship on Sunday mornings to a gathered community of members and friends. Along with the money that enables the technology to make this possible on the big screen in Brookridge’s chapel, our Homebound Team dreams of surrounding our home-centered members and friends with additional FBC members some Sundays, broadening the experience of worship from one of isolation to one of communal expression. In their words, “Homebound team members are greatly aware of the importance that ‘having church’ is for our members who no longer attend church and many others at Brookridge. We believe to experience worship together is an invaluable gift.”
The second has been granted to a group of folks — Scott Hudgins, Linda Jones, Chris Towles, and Paul McCraw — to create a public lecture series to explore Christian thought and practice. Aimed to be sponsored by First Baptist with the hope of partnering with other downtown churches, First Baptist would take the lead on creating this public space for learning and engagement. In the applicants’ words, “with the growth of our city and the increase in residential population, we have the opportunity to invite the public to a lecture of public interest that speaks to our church’s commitment to learning, faith, and building community. While many outside our doors may never step into our church for worship, many may attend a lecture or public event that invite them to probe or explore a topic of shared concern and common interest. Our call as a congregation to be a teaching and learning church means that we engage the neighborhood with opportunities to learn and grow in the values we share in common. A lecture series is a public way to affirm our values, meet our neighbors, and profess our faith.”
We say a hearty congratulations to these grant recipients! Through their creative work, they will lead us to cultivate our church’s long-standing spirit of innovation for the sake of the kingdom. For all of the rest of us who are now inspired, please know that the next deadline for submitting applications will be on December 1! You can find these applications, plus all the information on how to apply on our website: https://firstonfifth.org/innovation/. And now we watch and see what God might do!
Together in God’s work of Love,
Emily Hull McGee