Unique Grant Opportunity Helps Congregations Through Pandemic and Beyond

Unique Grant Opportunity Helps Congregations Through Pandemic and Beyond

Indianapolis Center for Congregations
303 N. Alabama St., Suite 100
Indianapolis IN 46204

NEWS RELEASE:  For Immediate Release

For More Information Contact: 
Tim Shapiro, tshapiro@centerforcongregations.org or 317-237-7799

Unique Grant Opportunity Helps Congregations Through Pandemic and Beyond

Indianapolis Center for Congregations awards more than $13 million in Connect Through Tech grants

INDIANAPOLIS – As churches across Indiana were forced to close their buildings and work to find new ways to worship and conduct their ministries in the face of COVID-19, many asked the Indianapolis Center for Congregations for help.  In response, the Center launched the Connect Through Tech grant program to help congregations enhance their digital and technological capacities to provide worship and other programs remotely.

Through generous funding from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Center awarded nearly 2,700 grants totaling more than $13 million to Indiana congregations in May, June and July. Congregations which received grants serve a broad range of Indiana communities from East Chicago to Evansville. A list of the grantees by county can be found here.

“This special ‘stimulus’ program was truly a Godsend to congregations that have been struggling to teach, preach and reach out to their members during this pandemic,” wrote Michael Wicks, chief of staff at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gary.

That is plumb awesome. Thank you so much,” responded Mark Tabor, pastor at Harvestime Temple in Mount Vernon.

"When social distancing went into effect, congregational leaders reached out to the Center with concerns about how to effectively continue congregational life remotely with limited technology,” explained Kara Faris, the Center’s director of resource grants and resource consulting. “We could see that congregations needed an immediate infusion of updated technology, so we launched the Connect Through Tech grant program.”

Among leaders seeking resources to help through the challenges of the pandemic was the Rev. Clarence Moore, senior pastor of New Era Church in Indianapolis. He reached out to the Center looking for potential support. In doing so Moore helped inspire the Center’s staff to create Connect Through Tech.

“With this new reality of having to conduct worship services and other church programing on-line due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is there an opportunity to use a resource grant or another one of your funding sources to purchase and update a ministry’s technology in this arena?” Moore asked. “I believe that this online ministry platform is going to be here to stay.”

Congregational leaders are using the funds in a variety of creative ways. They are purchasing cameras, enhanced internet services, sound mixers, and video conferencing subscriptions. They are investing in desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones to strengthen the creation and delivery of streaming worship, classes, and other gatherings. Some congregations are developing tablet lending programs for members who do not have devices but need them to access congregational offerings. And one church purchased a powerful Wi-Fi booster so that their property could become a Wi-Fi hot spot for their immediate neighborhood.

Many congregations are seeing more participants online than during pre-COVID-19 face-to-face worship or Bible study opportunities. These grants helped ease the way. As the state of Indiana reopens, many congregations continue to present online gatherings or a combination of physical and online opportunities that will strengthen their offerings for years to come.

The application and awards process for this grant program is completed, but the learning continues. Grant recipients are participating in a series of education events to help them implement and utilize the technology they purchased with grant funds. As the Center helps these congregations maximize their use of digital technology, the Center will share this information with  all Indiana congregations through consulting and workshops. Congregations can watch for educational opportunities to learn about ways to use technology for worship, pastoral care, meetings, small groups and more.

The Center continues to assist all Indiana congregations through resource consulting, other grant initiatives, and online workshops, as well as through their online collection of resources, Congregational Resource Guide (thecrg.org).

About the Center for Congregations: The Center for Congregations is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and is committed to strengthening Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources to address their challenges and opportunities.