Challenge Grant Matching Opportunity: ‘Tis the Season to Invest in the Young

Date Posted: 12/8/2016

Bishop Scott Jones is encouraging individuals and congregations to designate funds to the Emerging Leaders Endowment that will encourage young adults in their journey to respond to God’s call. Contributions and pledges through year-end will be matched via the Challenge Grant from the Moody Permanent Endowment Fund.

Bishop Scott Jones is the leading advocate for the Emerging Leaders Endowment having seen its ripple effect thus far, to help attract youth and young families and bring a new sense of vitality, hope and sustainability to the denomination across the conference. “When the endowment reaches $15 million, it will permanently underwrite the operations of the Emerging Leaders Initiative, relieving the Texas Annual Conference— and our member churches—from ongoing annual fundraising efforts,” he says.  “We’ve been blessed with a challenge grant from the Moody Permanent Endowment Fund that will match every dollar given or pledged between now and December 31, 2016,” adds Bishop Jones. “We need gifts or pledges totaling $72,424 to take full advantage of this offer.”

 Contributions to the Emerging Leaders Endowment will fund four key on-ramps to ministry: 1) The Texas Youth Academy, 2) Ambassador Grants, 3) College Pastoral Internships and 4) the Advancing Pastoral Leadership program.   

The Texas Youth Academy is a two-week advanced discipleship summer program for high school youth who show promise for clergy and lay leadership in the Church. “I’ve always enjoyed Bible study, mission work, and volunteering. I credit my ability to remain active in my faith during college to my experience with the Texas Youth Academy,” says Mary Ellen Weylandt.

The Ambassador’s Grant provides reimbursement for seminary tuition and fees incurred by the most promising young clergy entering the Texas Annual Conference. The funds provide encouragement to prospective ministers and financial stability to clergy who receive grants, since seminary graduates often have $20,000 to $60,000 in debt as they begin their career in ministry. “Even as a single parent, my faith never wavered that a way would be made, as I incurred major debt studying for my Master of Divinity,” shares Rev. Romonica Malone-Wardley. ”The Ambassador’s Grant answered my prayers.”

The College Pastoral Internship Project allows young people to immerse themselves for 10 weeks in the daily life of a church and consider the possibility that God is calling them to serve as a pastor. “Within my first week as a college pastoral intern, I was praying with one family in an ICU, helping another prepare for a funeral, and becoming certain of my calling to vocational ministry,” shares former College Pastoral Intern Brandi Tevebaugh.

For those young pastors who demonstrate great potential, the Advancing Pastoral Leadership program provides a transformational experience of leadership development, beginning with their growth as disciples of Jesus. Through this accelerated process, which includes intensive clergy retreats over two years and annual follow-up retreats for three more, Advancing Pastoral Leadership (APL) expects to impact at least 75% of our 100 strategic congregations -- and cultivate visionary leaders for our United Methodist faith. APL participant Rev. Preston Greenwaldt says, “I found a process and a life journey that helped me to see that ministry and being involved in a church is about being involved in the ever-growing and changing community of God.”

Emerging Leaders Initiative: Key Initiatives

  • Identify and recruit young, gifted, diverse people
  • Develop their ability to serve as transformational leaders
  • Equip them with practices and tools that will sustain them over a lifetime of ministry
Bishop Jones shares, “One of my most important convictions in United Methodism is the importance of lay/clergy leadership development. While I am very pleased with many efforts currently underway, I am asking conference leaders to think about ways of improving and re-energizing every aspect of our leadership development systems. This includes our work with small membership churches, campus ministry internships, camping ministries, and our programs to strengthen clergy leadership development.”
How You Can Help The video to explain ELE’s importance is online at Pledge forms can be downloaded here. To receive the matching grant, we need a signed pledge form.
“Many of you have already supported this important Conference project and I thank you,” adds Bishop Jones. “Mary Lou and I have made our three-year pledge and we hope you will join us.”