News and Resources

November 17, 2020

Thriving Congregations

Health Fund receives five-year Lilly Endowment grant to strengthen partnerships and expand programs supporting community health ministry

At the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund we work hard each day to improve the health of Kansans through strategic philanthropy guided by Christian values, which is why we’re excited to announce that we received a five-year Thriving Congregations Initiative 2020 grant from the Lilly Endowment.  The $999,058 grant will enable the Health Fund to strengthen our partnership with the Neighboring Movement to expand both the Healthy Congregations program and the Good Neighbor Experiment.

Health Fund President David Jordan highlights the impact of the Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations grant

Our Healthy Congregations program recognizes that local churches play a major role in shaping each community’s culture, values, and sense of place. Healthy Congregations engages Great Plains United Methodist churches in projects to improve spiritual, physical, social, and emotional health in their congregations and communities.  As part of our Healthy Congregations program we work to build leadership among participating congregations by providing training, resources, and financial support to Great Plains United Methodist churches committed to health ministry.

We also offer special grant initiatives to support congregations interested in addressing social needs.  As a strategy to help increase a congregation’s capacity to address social isolation and other needs in their community, one of the special grant opportunities we’ve been supporting is the Neighboring Movement’s Good Neighbor Experiment.  The Good Neighbor Experiment leads cohorts of participating congregations through three training workshops using a 24-week curriculum that connects asset-based community development with time-honored Christian values, focusing on strengths versus needs and helping teams practice the learned skills of community neighboring.  Through our partnership, 18 Great Plains United Methodist Conference congregations are currently participating in the program.

Looking forward, we are excited about the Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregation Initiative grant because it will enable us to partner with the Neighboring Movement to bring the Good Neighbor Experiment to many more churches within the Great Plains Conference and to churches throughout the country.  The grant will also help us expand our Healthy Congregation program and the capacity of leaders within Healthy Congregations churches to grow their health ministry and improve health in their community.   As we look to the future, we know that building on the strengths within congregations can help us improve health and address challenges resulting from health crises like the pandemic or the increasing prevalence of social isolation and division.  We’re excited to take on these challenges in partnership with the Neighboring Movement and with support from the Lilly Endowment.

A news release for this announcement is available here.

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