“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

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.

2023 Recipients

In 2023, the RMC awarded “In the Mud” grants to 10 communities. Their proposed projects included some of the following: inviting Black women clergy to be guest preachers; building a wheelchair ramp; planning an interfaith Pride celebration and a church anniversary celebration; a new LED sign at the church building to help spread the word about church activities; commissioning a poem for a special event; and developing a pilot program to help Open and Affirming congregations continue to expand their welcome to the LGBTQ+ community.

Provo Interfaith Pride Service
A new wheelchair ramp built by Black Forest Community Church
Valarie Kaur at La Foret’s “Seeing No Stranger” Event

We invite you to read Rev. Logan Bennett’s reflections on La Foret’s “Seeing No Stranger” event, check out additional photos from Black Forest Community Church’s wheelchair ramp construction project, and read more about UCC Parker Hilltop’s Spice Project. We hope these examples help inspire your creativity as you imagine what types of projects your community might take on with the help of an “In the Mud” grant. To learn more about the application process, please read through the information listed below.

Process

Over the last few years, we have seen all kinds of new and innovative outreach programs 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.

For the first few years of In the Mud, we were focused on awarding grants for church-based community outreach programs. In 2020, we shifted our focus towards technology and improving online outreach efforts.

This year, we continue supporting tech improvements as well as in-person outreach projects. The important thing is the intention of the project and how it will expand your church’s reach into your community.

Application Form
The 2024 application will open on July 1st, 2024, and it will close on July 30th. Please check back in June to access the link to the Google Form application. Deliberation will occur in August. Selected applicants will be notified in September, and funds will also be dispersed in September.

Funding Decision
Funding decisions are made once a year and can be in amounts up to an amount to be announced after budget process is completed in 2024. The total funding amount depends on the quality, quantity, and requested dollar amounts of the applications we receive. If you are seeking a larger grant for your new ministry, please check out the Tributary Fund.

We encourage churches to seek the dollar amount needed to enact their ministry, up to an amount to be announced after budget process is completed, 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.