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The Center for Congregations strengthens Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources to address their challenges and opportunities.About Us
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Located in Gary, Indiana, Trinity United Church of Christ (Trinity-UCC) is a culturally-conscious, Christ-centered African American congregation with a strong commitment to community. After returning to in-person worship post-pandemic, Trinity-UCC realized that not everyone was coming back. The congregation was in need of new resources for “equipping the Saints” of their church to continue ministry and re-engage the community.
“Like most other churches, the pandemic caused a huge transition for us,” says longtime Trinity-UCC member Sandra Mosley. “As a congregation, we talk a lot about equipping the Saints to do the work of the church. Now that we were all coming back together in person, we started asking ourselves, ‘How do we get there?’”
Trinity-UCC began to identify what was needed for the church, the congregation, and the Gary community as a whole. The scope of these needs, however, was greater than the resources the church alone could provide. That’s when Trinity-UCC connected with the Center for Congregations. They applied for a resource grant to provide members of their congregation with grant writing training.
“With support from the Center, we found a local instructor who specialized in grant writing training,” says Sandra, who played a role in the grant leadership team. “Seven members of our congregation signed up. The commitment was that they would come to both training sessions and work on submitting at least one grant within a twelve-month period.”
The grant writing training was held onsite at the church and took place over the course of two days: December 10 and 17, 2022. While the classes provided a refresher for some and new skills for others, all in attendance were empowered to explore and apply for resources that would further Trinity-UCC’s calling to serve the community.
“Coming out of the pandemic was depressing for many. Creativity was stifled,” says Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr., Founder and Senior Pastor of Trinity-UCC. “It made people think, ‘Well, there’s just not much we can do.’ This grant writing training sent tremors through the members of our congregation. There was an uplifting sense of encouragement that made people want to engage.”
Since completing their training in December, the group from Trinity-UCC has continued to meet, strategize, and build their grant writing toolbox. In their arsenal is a grant-specific email account and a Google Drive complete with folders and helpful documents for applying to grants. The congregation has already secured their first grant as a result of these resources! The funding will help support Trinity-UCC’s bi-weekly mobile food giveaway ministry.
“Oftentimes, we don’t have because we don’t ask,” says Sandra. “Now we have the tools to ask! We’re empowered with the skills, knowledge, and ability to go out and get what we need. Going forward, I see us being able to create a community where our congregation is being trained to do work that is inclusive of our entire community.”
Sandra furthers that if congregations want to serve the people, they have to “get out of the boat and go through the water.” The grant writing process teaches congregants how to tell the story of the church instead of relying on the pastor or leadership team to always be the voice. The more people who can tell the story of your church, the broader the audience you can reach. Trinity-UCC hopes their story will inspire other congregations to take advantage of the resources available for them to grow their ministry and connect with their community.
“Don’t feel as if you’re by yourself, because you’re not,” says Pastor Jackson. “There is a wealth of support out there for you, and the Center for Congregations is one of them. They are invested in your success and humble enough to listen. They see the worth and value in your endeavors and can also visualize a bigger picture for your congregation.”
The Center for Congregations is funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc. and is a supporting organization of the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.