Scott United Methodist Church is a historic congregation located on the east side of Indianapolis. With an average worship attendance of 75, they might be considered small, but there is nothing small about their commitment to their community.
During the summer of 2020, Scott's Pastor James Anyike and congregational leaders decided to hold a conference to address the systemic and pandemic-driven challenges many of their members and neighbors face. The result was “Generation to Generation: Rebuilding the Village,” a three-day event that featured inspirational speakers, practical workshops on relationship and life skills, and a panel discussion on neighborhood policing. Additionally, there were health screenings, arts and entertainment, and a business fair allowing small Black-owned businesses to promote and sell their products.
Designing for maximum safety and hospitality during the pandemic was a priority. Lead planner Eunice Trotter contacted the Center for Congregations to see if a resource grant could help. The answer was Yes! A small matching grant of $2500 was enough to create a safe venue. The money helped pay for catered box meals, tent rental, face masks and hand sanitizers, and more. Grant funds also enabled them to offer small stipends to their featured speakers.
Response was so great that the hosts had to turn folks away. Both the community and congregation gave the event high ratings and urged the congregation to do more. Not surprisingly, the congregation was energized by the event.
“We held meaningful sessions that are now leading to discussions about holding other workshops before next year's conference. Regarding our sessions seeking accountability from elected officials and police, we were asked to hold a follow-up discussion before year’s end to determine if some commitments made will be met. This places our congregation in the role of community facilitator to address some of the ills faced in the community.”
They learned that younger, inactive members “will engage when they see relevance to their needs and interests.”
Eunice also pointed to fruitful networking with members of other churches. “We formed relationships that we believe will be lasting and collaborative.”
But if there is anything Eunice Trotter and Scott United Methodist Church want other congregations to learn from their experience, it’s this: “You don’t have to be a mega congregation to hold a mega event.” Or have a mega-impact.
To learn more, visit Scott UMC’s Facebook page.
For information on the Center for Congregation’s Resource Grants and other services or to get in touch with us, visit our website at www.centerforcongregations.org. Find resources you can use at the Congregational Resource Guide.