Synod of the Northeast Innovation Grant Recipients – January 2017

The Mission Working Group of the Synod Mission and Ministries Commission reviews grant applications and then joyfully gathers to discern which innovative ministries to help fund across the Synod of the Northeast.  Those that catch our attention reflect thoughtfulness in research, have support from their presbytery, create new energy for the gospel in relationships, and demonstrate promise for sustainability in ministry. As a result of the Commission decisions at its January 2017 meeting, we are pleased to commend to you the work of each of the following Innovation Grant Recipients:

Seeking Mission Communicator/Coordinator

The Synod Mission Coordinator will work to provide effective communication throughout the Synod Community through a variety of communications tools, as well as provide support and guidance to those seeking and receiving mission and ministry support from Synod programs and resources, and to promote Synod funds development.

Synod Mission and Ministries Commission Updates and Actions

The Synod Mission and Ministry Commission met on January 27-28, 2017, at Stony Point Conference Center.  As is often the case, we had lively discussions as a full commission and when we broke out into the Mission Working Group, Networks Working Group and Administrative Working Group.  This is a summary of updates and actions taken. 

Clean Climate Network Launched!

This Network was birthed at the 2016 Synod Assembly during the discussion of the commissioner's resolution to divest from fossil fuels. The discussion took us beyond divestment to how to be the church in the face of climate change and environmental degradation. The discussion led to an overwhelming vote for divestment. The Holy Spirit was alive and moving among us at that assembly. 

Introducing the Inaugural Robert L. Washington Scholars!

In mid-January, the Synod’s highly energized Committee on Representation met to review fourteen Robert Washington Scholar applications and to select the first Scholars.  This was an extremely competitive process. Getting to three Scholars was not easy.  The Scholars program will cultivate executive leadership training by providing resources for robust discernment regarding the Scholar’s vocation, call and abilities for service to the Church.  The first Scholars will attend the Executive Leadership Certificate Program at McCormick Theological Seminary as well as retreats with Synod staff.  We present to you our inaugural Robert L. Washington Scholars!

Sanctuary Training and Network Developing

We also investigated the important role that our own complicity in systems of oppression present, and the need for majority-white communities in mainline congregations to engage in significant pre-discernment and power analysis before beginning Sanctuary in all its forms.  Communities who are directly affected by policing, anti-immigrant, religious and racial bias need to be given primary voice in all conversations and actions we engage as people of faith.

#IgniteInnovation and Bring Light to the Darkness

It might not sound like such a revelation to offer a movie night, but Ogdensburg has no movie theater. The small city used to be a thriving port, but the economy tanked nearly a decade ago. Now there is poverty, isolation, and a constant flow of drugs over the Canadian border putting the town at risk of addiction and opening it to the destructive forces that loneliness and anger and a sense of abandonment can unleash.

Breaking Bread in Brokenness to Immigrants

PIM, one of the 1,001 Worshiping Communities and partially funded by the Synod’s Innovation Fund is a ministry of many love stories like this one. The stories of people who come and go, caught up in a system that ignores their humanity. PIM calls them into community with Christ, so that even as they move from detention centers to holding cells to prisons, they know that they are not alone.

O Come, Emanuel in Los Moriches, Long Island

My wife and I minister to a growing community with many immigrants who are coming to Long Island. One young woman we met told us that she was paying $400 for a trip to the Human Resources Office in Manhattan to seek political asylum. Multiple trips at $400 for refugees fleeing persecution! These are not wealthy people. So, we were able to step in and help with transportation and providing a safe community for this young woman, who was also expecting a child. Then in September, when the child was coming, my wife Miriam accompanied the young woman to the hospital. She was there for the delivery of the child—a moment that is like none other.