“In the Mud” Community Engagement Grants

“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  Matthew 13: 8-9

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” — Hebrews 10: 24-25

Important Application Dates for RMC Churches:

  • One grant cycle with $20,000 in available grant funds.
  • Application Opens: June 10, 2020
  • Application Deadline: August 9, 2020
  • Applicants will be notified: August 21, 2020
  • Grant funds will be disbursed: August 28, 2020

The work of Jesus was done on the ground: He got his hands “in the mud” with the people he served, directly helping those who came to him – the outcasts, the sick, the poor, and the forgotten—and he asked his disciples to do the same.

In 2016, our Conference voted to adopt a similar “in the mud” approach to sharing mission dollars. Instead of sending funds directly to organizations, we now grant the funds to our local churches, empowering them to build new partnerships and ministries within their communities.

Over the last few years, we have seen all kinds of new and innovative ministry sprouting up across our conference through these grants. From food pantries to playgrounds, to evening programs with progressive faith leaders, these small grants are helping local congregations have a greater impact in their communities. 2020 will bring a new focus for In the Mud Grant funds.

Process

2020: Experiencing Community in a New Way
The COVID-19 pandemic has, in some way, touched each of our communities, ushering in a time of unprecedented change in the way we do church. Our Board of Directors said it best: “We are Christ’s church, his hands and feet, voice and heart in the world. We are doing a new thing! We are living into our mission as Christian churches of the UCC; each and every week in myriad ways online and through other virtual means, we are proclaiming God’s unconditional love for the people of the world who are suffering physically, emotionally, and spiritually. While we have been used to attending church in a physical location and we yearn for our old ways and familiar surroundings, we have found sacred spaces and reconnected with our beloved church families in this “new thing” that brings us together in other ways, even as we are physically separated.”

Our churches have shown continued faithfulness in providing exceptional ministry amid these tides of change. We all striving to find new ways of building spirit-filled communities online. For this reason, this year applicants are encouraged to seek grant funds for the purpose of creating, expanding, or improving their church’s digital communities.

What Does This Look Like?
Think about what tools you need to provide your congregants with spiritual connection while physically distancing. Does your church need a new camera for recording Sunday Worship? Better internet bandwidth to support your Zoom meetings? Microphones for improved audio? Do you need funds for training volunteers, taking IT classes, or purchasing new video editing software? Do you need to purchase streaming license or online curriculum for your youth?

The needs of each church will be unique, but what we all have in common in this moment is an opportunity for growth while exploring new formats, new ways of being together, online.

Application Form
Applicants are required to fill out an In the Mud Grant Application. This online form can be found by clicking here. Limit one application per congregation. *Note that you must complete and submit the online Google Form to apply. Do not download and email your application, it will not be accepted.

Funding Decision
Funding decisions are made once a year and can be in amounts up to $1,000 in 2020. We are able to award a maximum of $20,000 each year. The total funding amount depends on the quality, quantity, and requested dollar amounts of the applications we receive.

We encourage churches to seek the dollar amount needed to enact their ministry, up to $1,000, with the knowledge that they might not be awarded the full requested amount (especially if we happen to receive several other inspiring applications). You can rest assured, though, that this isn’t an all-or-nothing process; you won’t be rejected or penalized if you ask for more than we are able to offer.

Follow-up
Receiving an In the Mud Grant is a result of collaboration, deepening relationship, and a focus on community engagement and congregational vitality. Grant funding is not seen as the end of the conversation, but rather one part in an ongoing dialogue. The In the Mud team hopes that grant recipients will share the story of their vitality program with the Rocky Mountain Conference and the wider church, as well as consider increasing their OCWM and Strengthen the Church offerings as a visible sign of increased vitality.