ReKindle is a grant initiative offered by the Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary. It is part of the Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations project.
ReKindle will make Impact Grants of up to $15,000 to support projects designed to enhance congregational vitality in a post-COVID-19 context to congregations that are accepted into the program.
The reKindle Impact Grant will help congregations realize their goal of being a thriving congregation by supporting their focused attention on an identified need and mission priority.
Examples of possible projects are:
Explore and deepen the congregation’s understanding of social and cultural trends that affect the congregation leading to new ministry responses that impact the congregation, locally or regionally, leading to new ministries or community engagement.
Learn about the congregation’s immediate neighborhood, town, city, region and/or broader areas of concern through research and face-to-face encounters which can lead to ministry responses or strategic changes leading to thriving encounters, leading to strategic changes to support a thriving congregation or new ministry responses.
Engage in a deep study of the congregation’s corporate values, theological convictions and reevaluate mission and ministry priorities in light of its changing contexts.
Identify areas for ministry where the congregation has the greatest passion, capacity, and sense of calling. A congregation may then implement a new ministry initiative or expand a current one
Build and strengthen a sense of community among members of the congregation through the implementation of new Christian practices or reclaiming traditional ones informed by a theological framework and intended to lead to new patterns of vitality and community coherence within congregational life
Critically assess the congregation’s governance and leadership practices such as vocational call process, staff development and training, compensation and personnel policies using a process of theological reflection. Create and implement a plan to cultivate practices that promote thriving in the current or changing context.
Establish and nurture partner and network relationships with affinity organizations in the congregation’s local neighborhood, town, or city to refocus and revitalize its mission and ministry response.
To qualify for this program and the Impact Grant a congregation must complete an online application consisting of a brief description of their church profile (staff, history, location, demographics, etc.), an identity statement, a description of the specific challenge they desire to address, and a description of the ministry project they desire to initiate. The application requires a project budget for the Impact Grant (up to $15,000 per grantee).
Grants will be given based on an application that provide evidence of readiness and capacity to complete the Impact Grant.
Congregations that successfully define their grant project intent, goals, and present a realistic budget will receive priority consideration.
The application will specify how to request assistance.
We hope to receive a variety of applications from congregations representing diverse communities.
Congregations that are multi-racial or represent communities of color are strongly encouraged to apply.
Help will be available for developing the application as it is not intended to be an obstacle.
We desire to help congregations build capacity for vitality and thriving; please contact us for information and assistance.
A cohort of up to eight congregations will be chosen annually for this program.
On October 18-20, 2021, each congregation that receives a grant will participate in a meeting of the cohort on the campus of Columbia Theological Seminary.
Each congregation will consist of a member of the pastoral staff or pastor and a congregational lay leader. a group from each congregations who THAT receives a grant, will participate in a meeting of the entire cohort on the campus of Columbia Theological Seminary.
The cohort sessions will focus on planning, capacity building, program design, and assessment through focused emphases on:
(1) theological reflection on their congregational identity using congregational assessment profiles, (2) grant project management, (3) peer learning, and (4) assessment of the Impact Grant project.
Each congregation will be assigned a trained coach as a resource to help them through the grant project process.
The coach will serve to facilitate support, encouragement, provision of resources, and help with assessment.
Congregations approved for the Impact Grant must sign a participation agreement and agree to provide a report upon the completion of the grant project to share successes, learnings, and to articulate their plans for continuing to benefit from the impact grant.
Congregations may apply for a second continuing grant if they evidence significant progress and outcomes from their Impact Grant. We realize that transformative change requires a long arc to sustain momentum.
Should the COVID-19 situation create restrictions or obstacles for a campus gathering the initiative will proceed online and through virtual meetings.
For questions or concerns about the reKindle Grant Initiative, contact The Center for Lifelong Learning.