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Healthy Congregations

Questions? See the FAQ or contact us. Ready to sign up? Call Katie with any questions, then download the Program Overview and Signup form.

Healthy Congregations is designed to pair the energy and passion of local church members with resources, funding, training, and a support network - providing a strong foundation for success.Healthy Congregations Great Plains

Building Strong Teams

Teams of three or more are key to the program. We provide a three-course training series that builds strong, energized teams equipped for success. No experience required - we start with Health Ministry 101.

Identifying needs, planning the work, recognizing success

Every church and community faces a unique mix of health needs. The simple Healthy Congregations Needs Assessment tool will help you identify your congregation's greatest areas of need in the four dimensions of health, plan how your team will address the chosen dimension, and recognize what success will look like in the chosen area. Our staff will be happy to help you develop your annual work plan, and will provide referrals to helpful resources. To complete the annual cycle, a simple report on your team's achievements is entered.

Healthy Congregations is built on networking and sharing. Whether it's the quarterly learning community webinars, the resource website, workshops and planning assistance sessions at the popular annual retreat...or if you're just stuck and need to talk through a project, we're here for you. See what we mean...

Resources and Special Opportunities

To get your health ministry off to a good start, the Health Fund provides an initial $1,000 grant when your church signs up for Healthy Congregations. The grant is renewable each year your team participates and continues to meet the program requirements. Participation also makes your church eligible for special program and funding opportunities (such as The Big Garden community gardening program, Summer Food Program, and Strengthening Families Program) reserved exclusively for Healthy Congregations.

What we ask of your team:
What we provide your team:
  1. Commit to intentional, effective health ministry work
  2. Complete the team training
  3. Identify health needs and set a clear goal
  4. Make plans and take action
  5. Evaluate achievements, reflect on successes and challenges, and refine plans
  1. $1000 grant on signup, renewable annually
  2. Training to build strong, energized teams
  3. Program related ideas, resources and consultation support
  4. Communications resources to promote your work
  5. Quarterly Learning Community webinars to share successes, discuss ideas, and learn about additional funding and program opportunities reserved for Healthy Congregations

Learn about Healthy Congregations, make the commitment, and sign up

Please read on for program details. If you have any questions, please contact us by email or phone.

To learn more about the program, please download and read the Healthy Congregations Information and Signup Form (pdf).

Frequently-asked questions (FAQ)

This sounds great - how do we sign up? Contact Katie Schoenhoff / 800-369-7191 to discuss any questions you may have about the program. To sign up, you'll need to complete the form with the names of your team leader and initial team members, gather the required signatures (including the pastor, team leader, and administrative council representative), and mail to our office. We'll issue your initial $1,000 grant check as soon as we receive and approve your signup form. If your church had previously been in Healthy Congregations but discontinued participation (team members moved away, etc.) you are welcome to sign up again, but will need to contact Katie to discuss eligibility to re-start the program.

Is there a brochure we can print and share with others in the church? Yes - you may download the Healthy Congregations Information and Signup Form from this link (pdf file).

What are the new benefits and requirements? Healthy Congregations is now open to all Great Plains United Methodist Churches - not just Kansas UMCs. In addition to the annual funding, training, and program resources available through Healthy Congregations, we are adding quarterly learning community webinars where team leaders (and members) can share successes, talk through any challenges or questions, and learn about special program and funding opportunities reserved for Healthy Congregations churches. We are developing new program resources which teams can use in their churches, and developed a simple health needs self-assessment tool to help teams identify and focus on a chosen health goal. And, as mentioned earlier, we are developing special opportunities reserved for churches in the Healthy Congregations program - these may include specific programs such as The Big Garden, Summer Food Programs, Strengthening Families Program or other special grants available to Healthy Congregations.

When can my church sign up to participate? Are there deadlines I should be aware of? A church is welcome to sign up and begin participating at any time. June 30 is the annual deadline for submission of Reports and Plans to be eligible for renewal funding.

How do we complete the core training courses? Do we need to travel? The core training courses are offered periodically throughout the year in a live online format - all you need is a telephone and an internet-connected computer to participate. If you don't have a computer, there is also a DVD and telephone option instead. Your team can train together at the church, at someone's home, at a public library, etc. There is no charge for the training courses. Regional in-person training is also offered periodically - see the training page for schedules and registration. The Healthy Congregations Retreat is a great place to complete your training, and get inspiration and ideas you can take home and use in your church and community.

Some of our church members attended training courses at the Annual Retreat, but we aren't a Healthy Congregations church yet. Will those training credits apply if we sign up? Yes! Training credits count toward sign-up within one year of the training date. Once your team has signed up, training credits never expire.

My church is part of a parish and is interested in membership. How does that work? Generally, parishes will be treated as a single entity for purposes of Healthy Congregations. However, if separate churches in the parish are able to form distinct health ministry teams, they will be eligible to individually participate upon approval.

When will we receive our funding? Churches signing up and eligible for initial funding will receive a check about a month after we receive the completed, signed agreement. "Certified" teams will receive renewal funding checks within 45 days when program requirements have been met by the annual June 30 deadline.

What information is needed to complete the Report and or Work Plan forms? If you just want to see what kinds of questions are on the forms, you can view a Sample Needs Assessment Form, Sample Planning Form, or Sample Report Form to learn more. Please note that although representative, these downloadable forms are samples only. To file an actual Report or Plan, be sure to use the official online forms.

What happens if our church signs up and then fails to complete the training or the other program requirements? What if our team leader moves away and no one else will pick up the mantle? Do we have to give the money back? Participation is on the honor system - we expect that churches entering into Healthy Congregations do so in good faith and with a full intent to meet all of the program requirements. However, we know that sometimes circumstances beyond reasonable control can cause a program to fall apart. The grant funding through this program is renewable on an annual basis, and is contingent on completion of the annual requirements. If those requirements are not met in a particular year, no funding will be issued. However, any remaining funds from previous participation remain with the church and do not need to be returned.

If a church falls out of good standing in the program and later wishes to resume participation, we will be happy to discuss and evaluate eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

If your church is not yet participating or you have questions about the program, the Health Fund's Katie Schoenhoff will be happy to discuss the program with you, answer your questions, or put you in touch eith another of our staff members who can help you. Call Katie at 800-369-7191 or email

If you have questions related to training, please contact Judy Johnston at or 316-293-1832.