The application for 2021 is now closed. Please revisit this page for the 2022 application link.


ReKindle Congregational Development Program
2021 Grant Recipients


Faith Presbyterian Church, Blue Ridge, GA “Nourishing Hope in our Beloved Community” $15,000

This is a joint project between Faith Presbyterian Church and the Jewish Community of Blue Ridge, GA. The project has three elements: 1) delivering food to food insecure senior citizens in their community, focusing on those living in Section 8 housing; 2) a “Bridges Out of Poverty” training program to develop ambassadors to those living in poverty to help them access services they need; and 3) monthly lunches offered at the church for those who receive their food deliveries. “We hope to be able to provide transportation where needed to these lunches. We will kick off the luncheons by holding the first one during the Jewish festival of Sukkot, erecting a sukkah to reflect the multi-culturalism of our project and making fresh fruit and vegetables available at the luncheon for guests to take home.”


Vienna Baptist Church Vienna, VA “Becoming an Antiracist Church” $15,000

When Vienna Baptist Church (VBC) was planted in 1955, the Town of Vienna was a segregated community, like the rest of Fairfax County. It wasn’t until 1963 when a nearby elementary school, built to educate the same white families VBC sought to serve, would be integrated. While VBC has always aspired to be a welcoming congregation for all people, they have remained a predominantly white congregation. “We recognize the need to cultivate a church culture that does not simply aspire to values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but embodies them in such a way that our congregation better reflects our community. We will use the ReKindle grant to examine how our current programs, ministries, organizational structure, policies, and history may have created and maintained a culture where systemic racism thrives despite our stated commitment to inclusion. We will seek to identify and engage consultants to provide training, identify changes, and guide our implementation so we can intentionally grow into a fully inclusive, multicultural, and antiracist church.”


New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Lithonia, GA “Journey of Hope” $14,995

New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (NBC) is committed to being a “Church Beyond the Walls.” NBC views “thriving” through the lens of their Christian practice of service to others. The Journey of Hope project will allow NBC to extend its service to the community by expanding their food insecurity support programs to include employment assistance. Mentors will work with participants to develop career goals and journey together through the job search process. There will be four 12-week cohorts with twelve Mentees enrolled in each cohort.


Fondren Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS “Chapter Next: Living Antiracism” $15,000

With only four PC (USA) churches in the Jackson metro area, the churches know one another well. But at Fondren, they are keenly aware that a divide remains between the two predominantly white congregations and the two historically Black congregations. They recognize that they have failed to live up to Christ’s command to love one another deeply and work together for the common good. Fondren Presbyterian Church will reclaim their heritage as a bold congregation and re-write their story as a force for equity and reconciliation in Jackson, Mississippi, and beyond. “Our approach to achieving these goals encompasses three core areas: 1) Capacity building. We will honestly assess our identity as a congregation: are our attitudes and beliefs regarding racism in keeping with who we say we are; 2) Learning. We will begin by sharing our individual stories regarding our experiences with race; 3) Worship. As we grow through self-assessment and learning, we will incorporate the spirit of love for all people into worship.”


Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, New Prague, MN “Strategic Plan 2.0” $15,000

Holy Trinity launched a successful Strategic Plan in 2015, and benefited from a number of its results. With the conclusion of the vision process in 2020, they have a clarified vision statement to “Share God’s love for all people from one generation to the next.” Their mission is to 1) Welcome, 2) Worship, 3) Respond. Now that they have a unifying vision and mission, they are well-positioned to have a subsequent process that refines their goals and ministry initiatives as “Strategic Plan 2.0”. “Aligned with our recently articulated vision, we will seek to orchestrate creative, feasible, yet courageous strategies for our ministry next steps. Our aim is to develop an administrative infrastructure compatible with the vision, provide necessary systems training for the leadership teams, launch sub-teams which translate the vision into particular realms of ministry, and create and implement a plan for missional alignment and ministry mobilization.”


Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevas Fronteras, North Plainfield, NJ “Enlighten Pathways” $15,000

Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevas Fronteras is composed of families from 17 countries in Latin America and a growing second-generation population. These families know all too well the story of sacrifice. Many of them have experienced immigration as a traumatic event. Their children often resent them for leaving. They feel abandoned and, in their search for comfort and belonging, disproportionately join gangs, fall prey to those who promise “love,” and subject themselves to circumstance such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and unwanted pregnancies. “The Enlightened Pathways Initiatives will afford opportunities for families to obtain coping skills within an environment that allows them to be nurtured in a multicultural and multilingual community. This proposal will provide a systemic approach in guiding families in its multiple levels of development, the opportunity to relate with the dominant culture, while providing sustainable approaches in enhancing the fabric of family structures, the church, and society.”


St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church. Memphis, TN “Reach Back to the Community” $15,000

The John Meeks Shelter at St. Matthew’s UMC aims to house 10 families, with a focus on assisting homeless families. Their goal is to provide a safe, secure, and sanitary housing environment where families can foster a mindset to improve their quality of life as they stabilize and work to dismantle homelessness in their own lives. “We will provide support services for our residents based on family needs for housing. This plan is to move families forward to acquire permanent housing and connect with social service support agencies in the community upon entry. This program will allow the families to succeed, participate and graduate within 45 days. Included are budgeting skills, psychosocial groups, parenting and adult daily life skills.”


Glen Allen Baptist Church. Glen Allen, VA. “Regroup Small Groups” $15,000

Glen Allen Baptist Church established three priorities for 2021: (re)build fellowship, deepen discipleship, engage our community. COVID-19 has slowed the roll out of these priorities but with an anticipated greater opening in the Fall, they want to capitalize on this moment in time to embrace these three priorities. “The project will gather participants in small groups that will simultaneously address all three areas. The long-term goal is to model a small group setting as a future discipleship growth strategy. At the end of eight weeks, the groups will reconvene to report their experiences and celebrate their growth. The congregation will assess if any of the community engagement projects have potential for a long-term partnership. Following the celebration dinner, we will roll out a calendar of future small group opportunities designed to lead people into next steps of discipleship growth.”

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.

DOWNLOAD the reKindle FAQ Sheet HERE.



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.


Thriving Congregations: Challenges to Becoming a Sustaining Congregation, Part 1

Thriving Congregations: Characteristics of a Thriving Congregation, Part 2


For questions or concerns about the reKindle Grant Initiative, contact the Center for Lifelong Learning at

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. 

NOTE: This grant will not fund equipment, electronics, office equipment, or projects involving improvement of physical plant or facilities.

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.

NOTE: This grant will not fund the purchase of equipment, electronics, office equipment, or projects involving improvement of physical plant or facilities.

For questions or concerns about the reKindle Grant Initiative, contact The Center for Lifelong Learning.