The Louisiana Conference Board of Discipleship (CBOD) recently announced seven recipients of this year’s Fresh Expressions of Church micro-grants. The $500 grants will assist the winners in supporting community outreach initiatives.
In the Shreveport District, one recipient is the Benton UMC Community Garden. The project will partner with area food pantries, other churches, the local 4-H program and Lion's Club to create a community garden where people can come together and learn to grow, harvest and cook fresh vegetables.Nutrition classes will also be offered.
A second recipient in the Shreveport District is Lakeview UMC in Minden. The church began a Sunday evening contemporary worship service in May of 2013. The Fresh Expressions grant will help to pay for outdoor advertising banners and door-hanger flyers that will help Lakeview UMC publicize this “LITE” evening service throughout the Minden area. The service is designed to reach unchurched youth and adults in the community.
Lake Charles District winners include First UMC, DeRidderand a collaboration between University UMC in Lake Charles and McNeese Wesley Foundation. First UMC in DeRidder will use the grant to “Backpack Manna,” providing ready-to-eat bags of food for junior-high and high-school students who've been identified by school counselors as being at risk of going hungry during school holidays. Approximately 35 teens will receive the "manna."
McNeese Community Garden, a joint effort between University UMC and the Wesley Foundation, will begin in January of 2014. Plots of land sufficient for eight to nine families will be designated and located on the UUMC campus. The garden will help students and area residents build a sense of community, learn gardening skills, appreciate the wonder of God's creation, and grow fresh produce to improve nutrition among low-income neighbors. Gardens will utilize organic practices.
Baton Rouge District churches receiving grants include Camphor UMC and HOPE Community UMC. Camphor will offer a cultural-enrichment program called "A Gumbo of Art, Music and Culture," which will feature lessons and activities for six to nine-year-old children in the Scotlandville area of Baton Rouge. Programs will include etiquette lessons; field trips to museums, cultural sites and tours of black-owned businesses; art and music lessons; and a performance at the end of the program for parents and neighbors.
HOPE Community UMC will provide a tutoring program which targets children in the 70805 zip code, an area known to have a high crime rate. The after school project will offer academic tutoring, training and other enrichment and remedial programs, while tending to the spiritual nurturing of both parents and students.
Monroe District’s Chatham UMC will offer "Fun in the Son" swimming lessons in the Summer of 2014. The church offered swimming lessons to area children free of charge last summer, and received an enthusiastic response in the community. The lessons will safeguardlocal children who have access to many bodies of water (creeks, lakes and pools) but who may not know how to swim. Additionally, a "praise camp" and guitar lessons will be offered.