August 20 Called Annual Conference Session - business items now posted

Conference awards $25,000 for children’s, poverty ministries


By Kara Witherow, Editor

The South Georgia Conference, through the Office of Connectional Ministries and the Conference Outreach Team, has awarded grants totaling $25,375 to 27 local churches for ministries focused on children and poverty.

Funding for the grants was made available through the Bishop’s Initiative for Children and Poverty, to which local churches have supported generously over the years.

Ministries or projects, which may be ongoing or new, must be completed between December 2021 and July 2022. Grants ranged from $500 to $2,000.

A team of five reviewed applications and awarded the grants. The selection committee included Connectional Ministries Team Leader Kelly Roberson; Outreach Chair Susan Hughes; and Outreach Team members Rev. Christy Bandy, Rev. Lee Pettis, and Rob Belknap.

“We are pleased to say we made a conscious decision to offer grant money to every local church who submitted a grant application,” Hughes said. “For new projects, our prayer is that the gift provides the seed money to jumpstart the church’s proposed idea. For ongoing projects, our prayer is that the money provides a boost for the great ministry the local church is already involved in within their community.

“We are so thankful for the Kingdom work these grants represent.”

Grant recipients:

Andrew Chapel UMC: Andrew Chapel UMC in Ellaville, in partnership with Feeding the Valley in Columbus, is providing weekly meals to children in the local school system. The “Buddy Packs” project currently serves 50 elementary school students and five middle school students. The meals are designed to provide food throughout the weekend when children do not have access to free school meals.

Baxley First UMC: Baxley First UMC will develop “Fight Poverty through Healthy Eating Choices,” a five-month intensive program focused on teaching participants how to supplement the Appling County Food Bank groceries with healthy food to cook meals that are cost-effective, nutritious, and enjoyable. Families chosen to participate in the program will be low-income with at least one child between the ages of 9-12.

Buckhorn UMC: ​​Buckhorn UMC in Dexter operates the only food pantry in the West Laurens area. The Buckhorn Food Ministry provides food three times per month in a drive-through food line. More than 50 volunteers from seven area churches participate in the ministry to help provide nutritious food and lessen food insecurity.

Concord UMC: Concord UMC in Americus partners with Called to Care of Sumter County through their annual Christmas stocking project. Each year, the ministry provides a Christmas stocking to each child currently in foster care in Sumter County. Each stocking contains small gifts and a gift card. The grant will help Concord UMC provide gift cards, age-appropriate Bibles or Bible storybooks, and accompanying Gospel tracts.

Darien UMC: Since 2015, Darien UMC has served 50-70 students at Todd-Grant Elementary School through its Backpack Buddies ministry. Each child receives enough food for the weekend and more on longer holidays. Darien UMC would like to expand the current Backpack Buddies program to McIntosh Middle School.

Douglas First UMC: The grant awarded to Douglas First UMC will support two ministries, Project Munch and Caring Christmas Tree. Project Munch provides weekend food to local elementary school children. The Caring Christmas Tree program provides Christmas gifts and clothing to local children who otherwise would not receive gifts.

Eastman First UMC: Eastman First UMC has long partnered with The Club to support its after-school program, Reading Buddies Program, and other after-school initiatives. The church wants to continue this partnership and support and offer scholarship funds to families who struggle to afford the after-school program.  

Epworth UMC: Epworth UMC in Jesup has, for years, supported 14 low-income families from a local elementary school with weekend food supplements. The past two years the support has expanded to include two holiday meals, Christmas gifts, backpacks, and school supplies. The grant will help the congregation also provide new shoes and/or a winter coat for each student.

Forest Hills UMC: Forest Hills UMC projects that in 2022 it will serve 2,000 children in 25 schools through its Backpack Ministry. Begun in 2011 with nine children in one school, the church’s Backpack Ministry provides supplemental, child friendly food to students who are at risk of poor nutritional intake when not receiving school meals. Forest Hills UMC plans to use the money from the grant to purchase food from the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank.

Grace UMC: For several years, Grace UMC in Savannah has served children at Heard Elementary through the Back-Pack Buddies ministry. The congregation is expanding their partnership with Heard Elementary by setting up a clothes closet at the church so the school may call upon them when there is a need for clothes, backpacks, uniforms, shoes, jackets, underwear, and personal hygiene items.

Greater Trinity UMC: Greater Trinity UMC in St. Marys proposes hosting a Children’s Winter Workshop consisting of three distinct activities during the winter: a Children’s Christmas Program in December, a Mid-Year Back-to-School Bash in January, and a Black History Month Program in February. All programs/activities would assist and target children and families in the area surrounding Greater Trinity UMC.

Isle of Hope UMC: Isle of Hope UMC in Savannah, through its new Literacy & Relationships program and its partnership with Isle of Hope K8 School, seeks to address students’ literacy gap by providing resources that are rarely available to lower-income families.  

Korean UMC of Savannah: The Korean UMC of Savannah will launch a free language education program for children of low-income families who want to learn Korean. The program, developed, written, and taught by volunteer members of Savannah Korean UMC, will help participating students develop their comprehension of the Korean language, enhance their abilities to read, write, understand, and speak in Korean. They will also learn about Korean culture.

Landsburg UMC: For 10 years, Landsburg UMC in Glennville has served the citizens of Wheeler County with its food bank. Open the fourth Saturday of each month, the food bank gives away a bag of groceries to each family, including at least one meat item. Whole turkeys are given in November. The grant will help the food bank purchase additional groceries.

Leesburg UMC: In July 2022, Leesburg UMC will host a Back to School Bash for children in Lee County. In addition to being a grand celebration that will include food, free haircuts, games, bounce houses, free school supplies, books, and other activities that create a fun and exciting back-to-school atmosphere, the event will also provide children with necessities like new socks and underwear to start the school year. 

Martha Bowman UMC: Martha Bowman UMC supports The Mentor’s Food Pantry, which helps address the needs of hunger and food insecurity facing children and their families in Bibb County. The grant will allow the congregation to serve 80 additional families during times of greatest need of food insecurity, when school is not in session.

Morgan’s Chapel UMC: Through its BUC SNACKS program, three to four times a week, members of Morgan’s Chapel UMC in Townsend make and take 100-150 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to McIntosh County Academy. The sandwiches feed the football, basketball, baseball, and softball players after school, before practice. The grant will allow the church to purchase food for the program.

Pinkney Chapel UMC: Pinkney Chapel UMC in Folkston proposes hosting a Children’s Winter Workshop consisting of three distinct activities during the winter: a Children’s Christmas Program in December, a Mid-Year Back-to-School Bash in January, and a Black History Month Program in February. All programs/activities would assist and target children and families in the area surrounding Pinkney Chapel UMC.

St. Andrews UMC: Through its Elijah’s Promise Food Pantry, St. Andrews UMC in Sylvania helps feed 200 to 300 families each month. Food boxes filled with nutritious, filling foods are given out on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

St. Mary’s Road UMC: St. Mary’s Road UMC in Columbus has expanded its Seeds 2 Trees tutoring ministry which serves low-income children from across the city. The grant will help the ministry expand its technology and will allow the church to reach more students virtually.

The Chapel UMC: A Little Free Food Pantry is a “no strings attached” way to feed people or families in need. The pantry is a simple wooden box with shelves and a door that is placed in an area of need, often an area filled with young families with multiple children. Two have already been built and The Chapel would like to build an additional five Little Free Food Pantries to be placed around Brunswick.

The Porch Community UMC: Every year, The Porch partners with a local Hispanic ministry to help provide Christmas gifts for children in the Valdosta area. The Porch congregation purchases new backpacks, a local ministry provides information sharing the Christmas story and the Good News of Jesus, and those, along with Christmas gifts from each child’s wish list, are packed into the backpacks. The grant will help offset the cost of the bags and printed materials used.

Trinity UMC, Pooler: Each month, Trinity UMC in Pooler delivers bags of groceries to about 20 area families. The grant will help purchase groceries.

Trinity UMC, Warner Robins: Trinity UMC operates a Wednesday after-school program known as Kids In Our City. It currently serves 78 elementary-age children but has the potential to immediately reach twice as many. Trinity would like to develop a leadership development component to the program for middle school, high school, and college students. The leadership program would train students on time management, money management, social skills, and conflict management. The program would also compensate the students for their time serving the elementary students in the after-school program.

Vineville UMC: Vineville UMC serves nearly 200 elementary school students through its Backpack Ministry. In partnership with L.H. Williams Elementary School, the congregation packs bags of nutritious food each week – the equivalent of two meals per day for the weekend per child – from August through May. 

Warwick UMC: Since 2007, Warwick UMC has served Worth and Crisp Counties through its Fishes and Loaves food pantry. Each month, bags of groceries are distributed to 41 families (105 individuals).

Wesley UMC: Wesley UMC’s congregation entered 2021 with a goal to support its Macon community with at least one mission project each month. The church’s December project was to host its first quarterly “Families Give Back” day of service. The goal was to give families in the church and community an opportunity to give back by participating in a day of serving the vulnerable population in the community.

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