What’s Up with Pastor Todd 7-2-21

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 7-2-21

Congratulations to First Church and South Church on a $15,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to four different South and First initiatives. A number of folks from both churches worked really hard on writing the proposal. On behalf of all of us I’d like to thank Rev. Dr. Claire Bamberg in particular for her leadership in this effort: identifying the opportunity and giving advice on crafting the language that ultimately resulted in the award. The faith-based grant program from HFPG is a new grant opportunity to support faith organizations assisting residents who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, addressing needs of congregants and the broader community impacted by racial/ethnic, geographic, economic disparities, or advancing community engagement focused on social and racial justice.  The initiatives are Waste Not Want Not, the Grab ‘n Go program offered by First Church, the Granby Racial Reconciliation group, and the GUCCI coaches who are assisting the Program Working Group. 

I’m looking forward to seeing how these four initiatives develop with the funding and the accountability structure that the grant provides. Last week I wrote about Waste Not Want Not and Grab ‘n Go and suggested the resource Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers: Growing a Relational Food Ministry by Elizabeth Mae Magill, which makes a distinction between a charity model and a relational model for food ministry. As we reflect on how to deploy the grant resources, it may be helpful for us to keep that distinction in mind. What’s our vision for food ministry in the church-to-be-formed? Which model would best serve that vision? How does food ministry fit within the overall vision for the new church? My understanding is that the Program Working Group will have a leadership role in these conversations. How will the Program Working Group leverage our coaching resources to clarify these issues? Though Waste Not Want Not and Grab ‘n Go are perhaps the most familiar food ministries in our churches, they aren’t the only food ministries.

Since April Granby Racial Reconciliation has been partnering with Food Solutions New England in leading a 15-week Racial Equity Challenge. Our own Ann Wilhelm is one of the visionaries behind this challenge. I encourage you to check out the websites above for more details on GRR’s and FSNE’s visions for community transformation. Both GRR and FSNE use a relational model because their goals aren’t limited to direct aid to the suffering but include making the whole system more just and equitable so that there are fewer suffering people. For those of you who don’t know, Granby Racial Reconciliation was formed a little over a year ago following the murder of George Floyd. Clergy and lay people from both South Church and First Church are involved in leading the group along with clergy from four other churches in town and many town leaders. We’ve had a number of successful events over the past twelve months including Hidden Figures Drive-in, a candidate forum, MLK town-wide preach in and community forum, a couple of vigils on the town green, and work with the school board to support racial equity and inclusion in our schools. There’s a lot more to come. I’m so grateful to everyone for their faithful effort not only in providing much needed charity but also in leading transformative relational ministry.

Author: toddyonkman

I am a husband, father, author, and Transitional Senior Minister of First Congregational Church of Granby (CT).

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