by Howard Bennett
Is your church passionate about meeting the social and spiritual needs of people in your community? Do you have an idea for a community ministry, but lack the funds to get it started? If the answer to either question is yes, a BaptistCare Connect Grant may be the solution.
BaptistCare Connect Grants provide seeding grants to Baptist churches for the development of new compassionate ministries that are aimed at alleviating disadvantage, loneliness and distress in local communities.
As this program creates a genuine partnership between our care organisation and Baptist Churches, together we are able to express Christ’s love in practical and relevant ways.
Over the past 13 years, BaptistCare has provided more than $430,000 to support over 100 Baptist congregations in developing and resourcing a diverse range of community ministries.
Last year, three churches were presented with a Connect Grant of $3000 at the BaptistCare AGM. This was also supported by a special Connect Grant Partnership service taking place during a regular service, where a BaptistCare representative presented a Certificate of Partnership to the church leadership and prayed for the church and the ministry program as they minister in their local communities.
BaptistCare congratulates the following churches and Connect Grant recipients for 2015:
Erina Community Baptist Church – Men’s Shed
The average age of the Erina/Green Point area is 47; far higher than in NSW (average age 38) and across Australia (37). This elevated age is due to the large number of people over 60, with almost one in three men having finished or currently finishing paid work and exploring other options. There are no men’s sheds within 5kms of the church, and the Gosford and Terrigal Men’s Shed are struggling to cope with the increasing number of men wanting to join. The mission of the church is to be a loving church, sharing the life changing message of Jesus. With one of the church’s 2014 goals including Local Mission initiatives, the Men’s Shed sits in this area with the aim to establish a mission/ outreach to intentionally target the needs of primarily older men who are looking for fellowship and a place to connect with others. The opening of the Shed highlighted the engagement taking place with the community and the commitment of the church family to the program.
Wellington Baptist Church – Wellington Indigenous Community Outreach
Wellington Church and BaptistCare have a history of reaching out to people in need within local areas. BaptistCare commenced its Home Services program in the area in 1997 and received support through promotion of this service in the Church. This relationship continued with a Connect Grant in 2008 for the Wellington Men’s Shed, while volunteers from the church supported the BaptistCare Community Centre in the town centre. In Wellington, around 48% of the population (approximately 6000 people) are receiving Centrelink payments, with a large number of people also substance users. As a result, food for the family is often low on the list of priorities. As a result, the church has established the Wellington Indigenous Community Outreach ministry conducting groups for indigenous women. Working closely with the Elders of the Wiradjuri tribe in the area, opportunities are provided for church members to build relationships with local indigenous women. The material being used is a pilot program, ‘Alpha for the MOB’, which has been developed by the Alpha team and acknowledges the specific needs and cultural influences of indigenous communities. ‘Yarning’ about women’s business will help to develop relationships with members of the community and help them understand their worth in society from a Christian perspective. In addition, main meal cooking classes will assist to educate women about the importance of providing healthy meals for their families.
BaptistCare is committed to the Connect Grant program and looks forward to further opportunities to develop partnerships with churches in their ministries to local communities.
NewHope Baptist Church Kellyville – MOPS
Mothers of Pre-schoolers (MOPS) is a national ministry program seeking to minister to mothers with young children in the local community, providing support and encouragement with an intentional outreach ministry. Currently NewHope runs a playgroup called HOPSCOTCH, and MOPS is a further extension of the Playgroup ministry. Building on relationships formed in Playgroup, MOPS is the next step, creating intentional conversations around parenting and marriage roles and how the church family can add value from a Christian perspective. Sharing with the church family at the Connect Grant presentation service was a wonderful privilege as people shared answers to prayer and the opportunities which continue to open up in the community. There is a great sense of excitement and anticipation of all God will do within the local community as the church family commit themselves to this ministry opportunity.
If you would like further information about Connect Grants or other areas of BaptistCare ministries, please contact Rev Howard Bennett, Church Relationships Manager by ph 02 9023 2500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org