Churches that want to enhance or expand their welcoming and hospitality ministry during United Methodist Open House Month in September can apply for Welcoming Seed Grants from the conference Communications Commission.
In preparation for the upcoming back-to-school season, the commission is offering up to $500 in seed money to a church in each of the conference’s 11 districts. The grants are intended to assist churches located in “under-served” areas in creating a welcoming atmosphere.
In previous years, seed grants were awarded for the Advent season. For 2007, the commission is expanding the project, which supports The United Methodist Church’s welcoming and hospitality campaign. The well-known theme of the campaign is “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” National television ads carrying the message air three seasons a year: Lent, back-to-school and Advent, when many churches traditionally have their greatest number of guests.
Churches that receive the seed money are encouraged to be creative in how they enhance or expand their welcoming and hospitality efforts. Past seed grant projects have included:
• Making care packages to pass out to school children, homeless persons and families in the area with information about the church’s ministries tucked inside
• Creating a “welcome center” at the entrance of the church
• Printing door hangers and flyers to distribute around the area inviting the community to the church’s seasonal services and activities
• Hosting a special dinner or other event for the community
• Installing an attractive new church sign so that newcomers will know the name of the church, service times, pastor’s name, etc.
To be considered for a grant, a church must be located in an “under-served” area such as an isolated rural area, urban transitional area or economically disadvantaged area; must be committed to living out the “open hearts, open minds, open doors” theme, welcoming all who come; and want to enhance or expand its welcoming and hospitality ministry.
Seed grants must be used during the 2007 back-to-school period (the month of September). Applications are due by Aug. 10. Applications are available from the conference and district offices.