2021 Annual Report

Growth: Beyond Surviving into Thriving

Congregations Served  2,292
Grants Given  192

Our Mission

The Center for Congregations strengthens Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources to address their challenges and opportunities.

The Center for Congregations is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and is a supporting organization of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

TimShapiro Tim Shapiro Signature

As congregations began to reopen for in-person worship, there was an undeniable shift. A shift that required more. The Center responded and Indiana congregations expanded, rebranded, church planted and experimented with non-traditional forms of worship — experiments for many congregations that led to increased worshipers.

Rev. Timothy Shapiro, D. Min, President
Center for Congregations
Beyond Surviving into Thriving
Rev. Timothy Shapiro, D. Min
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Dear Friends,

The Center for Congregations continues to hold fast to its mission. Our mission is to strengthen Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources available to address the challenges and opportunities they’ve identified.  We have also remained committed to sharing what we are learning from Indiana congregations to congregations nationwide through the Congregational Resource Guide (CRG). 

The unprecedented transitional period of the pandemic was one marked by great uncertainty. After adapting to online worship which was supported by the Center's Connect Through Tech grants, congregations were unsure if their routines would ever go back to what or how they were before.

In 2021, as congregations began to reopen for in-person worship, there was an undeniable shift. A shift that required more. So, as the Center responded and, with the help from additional grants, Indiana congregations expanded, rebranded, church planted and experimented with non-traditional forms of worship — experiments that for many congregations led to an increased number of worshipers. Many unexpected blessings of new partnerships between otherwise unconnected congregations and people were birthed. That’s why the theme is Growth…Growing beyond surviving into thriving!

As you read this report, we hope you find inspiration from the intentional work of these congregations and their tremendous examples of growth. 

Growth…Growing beyond surviving into thriving!


Sincerely, 

Tim Shapiro Signature

Rev. Timothy Shapiro, D. Min, President
Center for Congregations

317Church Launching in Hendricks County

There are 100,000 people in Hendricks County — the third fastest growing county in Indiana — who are not a part of a congregation. 317Church in Avon is on a mission to become a church who reaches those individuals even if they never enter the doors of their church. 

New Church Evolves from Young Adults Initiative

Throughout the pandemic, Living Word Baptist Church in Indianapolis saw how people of all ages were re-thinking how they engaged with their faith as they searched for new and different ways to worship. They took to heart the message from young adults that wanted an alternative to Sunday-in-the-pew worship. 

New Congregation Connections  592

These grants were transformative. They helped our church stay connected to the most precious part of our ministry– the children, and it helped me as a pastor continue to fulfill my calling to serve God’s people at all ages and levels.

Dr. Preston T. Adams
Senior Pastor, Amazing Grace Christian Church
Conversations with Congregations  10,168
Number of Events 103
Number of Event Participants 2,723

Valparaiso Nazarene Church: Empowering Congregations Through the Use of Technology

Virtual Worship

Through their Connect Through Tech grant with the Center, Valparaiso Nazarene Church of Valparaiso, Indiana, was able to upgrade their tech equipment to better keep up with the need for online ministry. However, this congregation’s grant journey would quickly evolve into so much more. After connecting other congregations in their area who needed help with their own technology, Valparaiso Nazarene Church took it upon themselves to walk alongside these churches and show them the way. These connections opened the doors to new friendships, community partnerships, and even the start of a new ministry and business.

Amazing Grace Christian Church and the “Amazing Bible Stories” Video Series

Online Bible School

For Amazing Grace Christian Church of Indianapolis, Indiana, what began as an effort to reach the adult members of their congregation through online services during the pandemic grew into a creative effort to keep children engaged through a new form of ministry– online Bible lessons. With support from the Center, Amazing Grace Christian Church expanded their horizons and created the “Amazing Bible Stories” video series, allowing this congregation to stay connected to the most precious part of their ministry– the children.

The CRG

The Congregational Resource Guide (CRG) has and continues to provide immeasurable support to congregations over the past few years as they navigate new challenges from integrating technology and engaging members through virtual worship to mental health and congregational leadership topics.

Total Number of Grants Given
 192
Total Amount of Dollars Given
$2,074,984
By Grant Type
$1,432,908 Resource Grants
$259,539 Equity Grants
$382,536 Other

The Center for Congregations helps Indiana congregations through no cost consulting, educational events, grants, and additional resources.

You're invited to connect with us at any of our locations or by email.

  • We listen to congregations about their needs.
  • We provide information and options without telling congregations what to do.
  • We help congregations find vendors, consultants and organizations.
  • We give congregations the space and time to work through the information.
  • And we offer grants to help congregations fund these things.

Meet the Team

The Center for Congregations’ board and staff is a group of passionate and dedicated people who are committed to serving Indiana congregations. Meet them and learn from the staff how they’ve witnessed growth beyond the pandemic. 

Our 2021 Board Members

Dick Hamm
Rev. Dr. Richard L. Hamm Board Chair
Bill Kincaid
Bill Kincaid Board Vice Chair
Katie Patterson
Katie Patterson Board Secretary
Elizabeth Clay
Elizabeth Clay Board Member
Colleen Kenney
Colleen Kenney Board Member
David Mellott
Dr. David M. Mellott Board Member
Alton Pollard
Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard Board Member

Our Staff

There’s always going to be adversity, the victory is in how you face it. Our congregations & team members CHOSE to face everything that came their way and as a result, we are all better for it.

Alisha Agnew
Alisha Agnew Central Administrative Assistant

Center communications grew to another level as we connected with more rural, minority and smaller congregations. This made for great dialogue with congregational leaders and challenged our staff to think “outside of the box” even more.

Eunita Booker
Eunita Booker Northeast Administrative Assistant

I have been so encouraged by how congregations have stretched themselves throughout 2021. The adaptability and desire to thrive in the midst of a difficult time has truly been inspirational.

Matt Burke
Matt Burke Director of Northeast and Education

Somewhere between “just getting through” and “settling into a new normal” we found the courage to ask questions of ourselves; to be present; to listen to others. Often this means we notice more of what needs to be fixed or changed – but it also offers the chance to choose to do better. When I have witnessed this in congregations, in the Center, and in myself, I see us cultivating the things we value: honesty, authenticity & compassion (just to name a few).

Sofia Cook
Sofia Cook Southwest Administrative Assistant