Diocese of California Congregational Development Small Grants


According to the vision of the Diocese for Beloved Community, Church Vitality “encourages evangelism, growth, and new expressions of church, and adopts missional practices of worship and outreach…[Vital churches] express creativity and joy in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The Congregational Ministries Working Group is pleased to offer again the small grants program in 2019 to support congregations throughout the Diocese in accessing training and leadership development courses in church vitality, with a particular emphasis on the Vitality Practice of Embedded Community. This program is intended to support deeper engagement in our local communities, encourage a team-based approach to help embed learning in congregations, to share learning across the Diocese, and to provide seed funding for small experiments in community engagement.

While there are many courses and conferences that can assist in such work, and we do not want to set one up as the way, we are focusing our grant-making efforts this year on a list of those that both meet the above criteria and have good reports. Even more than the particular course; however, our emphasis is on the intention for a team of lay and clergy to go from a congregation (at least 2-3 individuals). A team attending gives far greater chance for the learning to be embedded in a congregation and shared. We will have a gathering in 2020 of all grant recipients to harvest and share learning across the Diocese. We will accept applications on a rolling basis until funds run out or through November 29, 2019, whichever comes first.*

    *Small Grants are re-opened in February 2020 for the Faith + Finance conference!

    Recommended Courses / Conferences

    • Faith+Finance: Reimagining God’s Economy, May 18-20, 2020, San Antonio, TX: A new gathering with a bias for action. It will bring together pastors and impact investors, theologians and social entrepreneurs to respond with courage and imagination to the most urgent and demanding economic, social, environmental, and spiritual challenges of our day. Faith+Finance will weave together five overarching themes: Economic Theologies; Assets in Transition; Entrepreneurship; Impact Investing; Beyond Stewardship. More information can be found here.

    • Rooted in Jesus, January 21-24, Atlanta, GA: This gathering is a time for the Episcopal Church to come together as disciples of Jesus and take a bold new step into the next decade. Over four days, we’ll talk about discipleship, leadership, evangelism, formation, preaching, and much more—so we can go out and be the Body of Christ. Click here for more information.

    • College for Congregational Development, various dates in 2020: The College is a comprehensive training program that seeks to nurture and develop congregational development practitioners from within existing parish lay and clergy leadership. Click here for more information about trainings in the Diocese of Olympia and here for more informationabout trainings in the Diocese of Northern California.

    • Organizing for Mission: These trainings and gatherings equip leaders to practice the arts of faith-filled community organizing and grounded spirituality, with a framework of racial and economic equity to generate transformation in our lives, congregations, and communities. Dates of upcoming events announced soon. Touch with Canon Abbott if interested, and click here for more background on the Organizing for Mission Cohort.

    • Organizing for Public Ministry at CDSP, January 19 to 24: Organizing for Public Ministry is an intensive week-long training in community organizing, led by trainers from the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the oldest network of faith-based institutions in the United States. This class will cover conceptual studies and practical skillbuilding in how to engage the public mission of the church in the world, through presentations, discussions, role-play, readings, and class participation. Click here to download flyer.

    • Community Organizing as Spiritual Practice, January 21 to 25: Learn practices for building a relational culture and engaging your community. This class will cover the basic tools and practices of spiritually grounded community organizing from a biblical and theological perspective. The course will deal with practical skill-building in how to engage the public mission of the church to work for justice and peace in the world. For more information, click here.

    • Invite, Welcome, Connect Summit, June 10 to 12, The Rt. Rev. Kevin S. Brown, 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware will preach, and plenary speakers and workshop sessions will focus on the transformational work of evangelism in The Episcopal Church. More information available here.

    Grant Criteria

    Grant Amount: Grants will be made up to $2,000 per congregation. Covered costs may include registration, travel, meals, and lodging.

    Teams: Grants will be made for teams of at least 2-3 individuals per congregation. Teams must have at least one lay person and cannot consist entirely of paid staff. You may send as many people as you like; however, grant funds will only be provided for up to 3 people, regardless of the cost of the course.

    Courses/Workshops: Congregations may apply to attend one of the offerings on the recommended list. Funds will not be provided for programs that can be funded from other Diocesan sources. There is a some funding available for churches interested in training specifically in Christian Formation or Stewardship. Please contact those working groups directly for support.

    Application Process: Please complete the online application form. We will accept applications on a rolling basis until funds run out or through November 29, 2019, whichever comes first. An application does not guarantee funding.

    2020 Grantee Gathering: All grant recipients will be expected to participate in a gathering of grantees in 2020 for shared learning and cross-pollination of ideas. The dates for that gathering will be announced in 2020.

    Seed Funding: A subsequent round of small seed grants (up to $500) may be available for those who complete a course, or who have been through a similar course, and who need s­­upport for small experiments to put their learning into action. These grants will be specifically targeted to projects aimed outside the walls of the Church. Details about this opportunity to come.