The United Methodist Church's social action agency has awarded almost $150,000 in grants to 17 projects involving young people.
Several of the projects use music, art and drama to teach about justice.
The Board of Church and Society has made the grants with funds obtained through the denomination's Shared Mission Focus on Young People initiative. Of the $149,050 total, $39,000 will go to four projects in central conferences (outside the United States) and $110,050 to 13 projects throughout the United States.
Each program must include leadership from people between the ages of 12 and 30, according to the grant criteria. The projects also must include people from the community that is benefiting from the planning and implementation. The grant application needs to include information about community assets and how the project reflects the denomination's Social Principles.
"Bridging the Diversity Gap," a project of the United Campus Ministry at the University of Ohio in Athens, has been awarded $7,500 for a program that will use drama to teach youth and young adults about diversity issues. Athens is a county seat and college town in Appalachia.
A grant of $8,550 is being given to Miami Urban Ministry for the Above Ground Youth Music and Leadership Program. The program for neighborhood youth was designed and promoted by youth leaders, and uses arts and music. St. John's United Methodist Church and four Miami community organizations participate.
Inner-city youth plan to write and produce a musical for Street Theater on Broadway, sponsored by Broadway United Methodist Church in Cleveland. The production will be partly supported by a $7,500 grant.
Another Broadway United Methodist Church - this one in Chicago - garnered a $7,500 grant for Gather, a program offering music, hot meals and safe haven in an urban environment plus opportunities for discussion of life issues.
In Oranienburg, Germany, the mission church has begun a "Kirche im Container," or Church in a Box. A $15,000 grant will assist this program, which provides a shipping container outfitted as a church to residential areas that do not have churches. Unemployment and racism are issues in this area of former East Germany. Developing leadership is a primary goal.
The Youth for Peace Advocacy Program of the United Methodist Action for Youth is being given $12,500 for its work. The program seeks to develop peace advocates on college and high school campuses in the Northwest Mindanao Philippines Annual Conference. The advocates' training will address issues such as domestic and political violence.
In the North Central Philippines Annual Conference, a program of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship of the Philippines will receive $7,500 for a youth center. Called TULAY, for To Unite in Love and Action Young People, the center's activities include tutoring, leadership training, discussion of issues and advocacy empowerment. "Tulay" in the local language means "bridge."
A $4,000 grant is being given to the Liepa United Methodist Church in Latvia for a program called "Lode Atrums." It offers jobs building racecars and encourages leadership in economic justice in this former Soviet bloc country, where unemployment is a major concern.
CHAMP, or Children Achieving Maximum Potential, is receiving a $10,000 grant for an after-school tutoring program. The money is being given to Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, N.C., which shares leadership with two community groups.
In Project Transformation, 18- to 23-year-olds will provide leadership in a day camp for 5- to 12-year-olds, while exploring lay vocations for themselves. Oklahoma City Cooperative Urban Parish has received a $10,000 grant for the project.
The Youth Leadership Project at Hughes Memorial United Methodist Church in Portland, Ore., is slated to receive $9,000. In this project, youth leaders and adults of all ages provide services to children 5 to 15 years of age.
Harvest of Hope, a ministry of the Society of St. Andrew hunger relief agency, received $10,000 to hold a Midwest event for senior high students, with leadership by young adults and adults. Harvest of Hope programs feature extensive study of the root causes of hunger, and students also provide hands-on services, such as gleaning and working in a food bank or soup kitchen. Worship and spiritual growth are important components.
A Sidewalk Sunday School Ministry by the Desert Southwest Annual Conference will receive $10,000. A 14-foot box truck will be converted to a traveling church for this youth-led project that targets at-risk communities.
The Jeremiah Project is a home-repair mission by junior high youth. Most of the providers and recipients are Native Americans in rural Virginia. The project, conducted in partnership with the Virginia Annual Conference and three of its districts, received a $5,000 grant.
Affordable housing is a major issue for the Alabama Rural Ministry program in the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference, which received $10,000 for this work.
A $5,000 grant was given to the South Dade Haitian United Methodist Mission in Miami for a program called "Empowering and Building Young People - 21st Century." This immigrant community faces problems of extreme poverty, discrimination and illiteracy. The 12- to 30-year-old providers offer after-school programs and workshops and bring in guest speakers from the larger community to promote advocacy and multicultural cooperation on public issues.
High school and college students will have an opportunity to explore advocacy and campaigning for social justice at the Summer Leadership Institute being held in New Orleans by Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church and Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. A $10,000 grant will help fund the institute.