The Diocesan Strategic Mission Grants Committee wants to know what you are learning about your community and how you are discovering God at work in your neighborhood. If you are discovering opportunities to proclaim the gospel in new ways and partner with your neighbors in the transformation of your community, you are invited to submit an application for a grant in support of this work.
- What is a Strategic Mission Grant?
- Who is the SMG Committee?
- How Is the Strategic Mission Grant Program Funded?
- How Is The Current, Revised SMG Program Different Than The Previous SMG Program?
- What Categories or Areas Are Targeted for Funding?
- What is the SMG Grant Process? How Do I Apply for a Grant?
The Strategic Mission Grants program (SMG) is part of a comprehensive structure of support in the Diocese of Texas. The foundations of the Diocese support the clergy and programs of our parishes/missions and the wellness of their surrounding communities. The niche of the Strategic Mission Grants is like that of a venture capitalist. They foster new relationships, encourage new ideas, and build the church.
Bishop Doyle has challenged our parishes, missions, clergy and lay leaders to transform the way we “do church” by becoming more missional in our focus. In response to this challenge, the Strategic Mission Grant Program is changing its focus, the grant cycle, and the application/monitoring/evaluation process. Applicants are encouraged to look outward, to go beyond your walls, and to meet your neighbors where they are prior to application. Essential to a successful proposal will be a systematic investigation into the neighborhood you serve to determine the issues, concerns, and needs that exist. Inviting the community into a relationship should be a key component of the strategy.
The Strategic Mission Grants program is overseen by the Strategic Mission Grant Committee and is chaired by Ms. Flo Ray. Also included are members of the Bishop Quin Foundation, Episcopal Foundation of Texas, and the Great Commission Foundation.
The Strategic Mission Grants program is funded by three foundations of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas: the Bishop Quin Foundation, Episcopal Foundation of Texas, and the Great Commission Foundation.
The Bishop Quin Foundation was established in 1943 in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Bishop Quin’s consecration. The initial purpose was to provide for a Diocesan Headquarters and a revolving fund for low-interest loans to churches for building and improvements. In 1958, the will of Annie B. Laird of Kilgore provided most of the initial corpus. In recent years, the Bishop Quin Foundation has funded sabbatical grants for the welfare of the clergy, curate placement grants, redevelopment grants, natural disaster emergency funds, and the Strategic Mission Grant program.
The Episcopal Foundation of Texas holds the assets received from the estate of H.H. “Pete” Coffield of Rockdale, Texas and supports eight institutions: Camp Allen, El Buen Samaritano, St. Vincent’s House, St. Stephen’s School (Austin), The University of South-Sewanee, Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, and the Bishop Quin Foundation and Episcopal High School, Houston. Additionally, EFT gives 10% of its annual income as grants outside of the diocese (tithe grants).
The Great Commission Foundation was established in 2013 to support the missionary and church planting strategy of the Diocese. It is funded by a tithe gift from the Episcopal Health Foundation.
When the program was established in 2005, its initial focus was to support smaller congregations. In 2011, the program changed to support specific target areas for funding: Newcomer Ministry (Invite, Welcome, Connect), Creative Evangelism in the Community, and Church Planting. The size constraint was also eliminated so that all congregations were eligible to apply.
Bishop Doyle has challenged our parishes, missions, clergy and lay leaders to transform the way we “do church” by becoming more missional in our focus. In response to this challenge, the Strategic Mission Grants program began a revision process at the end of 2015. With this current revision, the focus has narrowed down to three target areas of funding: Community Evangelism with Intentional Invitation (discipleship), Missional Communities (apostolic), and Second Sites. Applicants are encouraged to look outward, to go beyond your walls, and to meet your neighbors where they are prior to application.
Essential to a successful proposal will be a systematic investigation into the neighborhood you serve to determine the issues, concerns, and needs that exist. Inviting the community into a relationship should be a key component of the strategy. We encourage a focus on impact rather than sustainability.
Other changes to the Strategic Mission Grants program include the addition of an engaging web-based platform that inspires impactful ideas (with missional vision) as grant opportunities. Prospective applicants can view highlighted stories and interviews of past grantees, follow simple workflows to complete and submit proposals and applications, online application process, quarterly grant cycles, education and resource links, application status tracking, grant calendar, and more. Applicants are no longer required to select their category from the application. The Strategic Mission Grant Committee will determine which targeted funding area the proposal falls under.
Strategic Mission Grants Committee is requesting proposals in the following three areas.
Please note: Capital improvements do not qualify for an SMG grant.
• Community Evangelism with Intentional Invitation (discipleship)
How can your congregation become better integrated into your community? Where are the “hot spots” that people gather and how can you meet people there to spread the good news? How can your church become a congregation that is not limited by your walls? What are the opportunities for discipleship?
Congregations are well aware of the importance of “Inviting, Welcoming, and Connecting” new members for the health and sustainable future of their churches. We generally are good at welcoming. We have found many ways of integrating recent arrivals. Often, the weak link in “IWC” is Inviting. Bring us your ideas to reach out beyond your walls to invite new people into your faith and your congregation. Begin by getting to know your neighborhood and building relationships with the people who live there. Then create a bold strategy to invite them in.
Who are they? How will you reach them? What are your current relationships with them, and how will these change?
• Missional Communities (apostolic)
Missional Communities exist when we participate in God’s mission of reconciliation beyond the walls of the church through relationships and worship. How might you reach out to form a new center of the community in your area? Are members of your parish forming transformational relationships with neighbors in your community? If so, a missional community might be taking root. What are the needs around you and what opportunities do you see in marrying your strengths with their needs or centers of energy? Bring us your ideas to “incubate” a new “missional community” that will mirror the movement of the gospel story in the early church. Who will lead this missional effort and how? Tell us how you think it will evolve. Do you know of others who have tried something similar?
We welcome entrepreneurial thinking and encourage congregations to “think outside the box” in developing an initiative that will benefit the congregation and its community.
• Second Sites
If an emerging area of high population growth is identified in which there is not an Episcopal presence in that area, a congregation or multiple congregations, as part of a strategic plan, may investigate a new start either in the form of a second campus. Examples of these expansion endeavors have been funded in the past with Strategic Ministry Grants. The idea is that a grant could help a congregation or multiple congregations launch a new site. In some cases, congregations may want to work collaboratively on a grant proposal if a unique opportunity exists.
In an effort to make applying for a grant more streamlined and less burdensome, the SMG Committee has designed the process outlined below. It is intended to be collaborative and supportive, so if you need any help please contact the Committee.
Please note: Capital improvements do not qualify for an SMG grant
- Before You Apply
- Creative thinkers are encouraged to explore the Strategic Mission Grants website where they can learn about the program, get inspired by viewing videos from previous grantees, and consider questions that are designed to encourage creative and innovative thinking.
- Research to Identify Opportunities.
Research is a critical criterion. It is essential that you identify the issues in your community through some form of research. There must be self-initiative first. We strongly recommend parishes research to identify: Who is our community? How can you serve them? Where is the relationship? How can you get the church in conversation with the community? Find the need, evaluate the data, and motivate lay people.
This can be as simple as sending teams door-to-door to interview neighbors or as major as hiring a professional to train your church members to do the research. Be sure the community is anticipating the ministry you propose. We have provided a few questions to guide your discernment:
- What is the problem your parish seeks to solve?
- How do you know the problem actually exists?
- How have you assessed the community’s needs?
- What will happen because of this grant that improves your community or your church in some way?
- What relationships will be formed or deepened by your plan, 1) within your church and 2) within your community?
- Motivate Lay People and Clergy.
Our challenge to the rector or the person in the pew who is reading this would be to start with what you already have. If you are clergy, mine the lay persons in your pews. There is usually skill and talent already there waiting to be discovered. Mine their talents for ministry and missional community. Find the need, evaluate the data, and motivate lay people. We encourage a focus on impact rather than sustainability. Where can you meet people outside the church walls to share and spread the Gospel? Also, please develop a succession plan. Who will be in charge of your project should the rector leave the congregation? This will allow the grant disbursements to be uninterrupted throughout the grant’s life. Should an unexpected event occur that affects your grant or could potentially affect your grant, please contact a member of the SMG Committee as soon as possible.
- How To Apply For A Strategic Mission Grant
- Complete the Online Proposal Form.
The SMG program is accepting proposals on a quarterly basis beginning in June 2017. The applicant will submit ideas by completing the proposal form located on the website. The applicant can edit his/her proposal form however once the form is submitted it can no longer be edited. After the proposal form is submitted, the applicant will receive a unique link to the SMG website where the applicant can track his/her progress through the grant process.
1.2 Application Form
The SMG Committee will conduct an initial evaluation of the proposed idea based on the proposal form. Should your proposed idea fit the goals of the SMG program an Application Form will be available for you to complete before your scheduled presentation to the Committee (step 2). The application form is a short two page document that outlines how to prepare for your presentation and includes a list of questions for the applicant to answer prior to the presentation. Questions include monetary details such as total grant amount requested, congregational information, budget and prior year income.
- Give a Presentation to the SMG Committee
The Committee will either a) invite the applicant to make a presentation to the Committee for their final decision, or b) the Committee will refer the applicant to a more appropriate source of diocesan funding and/or coaching from the Mission Amplification team.
- Sign and Submit Your Covenant Agreement
If you are awarded a Strategic Mission Grant, a Covenant Agreement (CA) will be sent to you for completion. The Covenant Agreement is a contract between the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and the applicant and indicates the total amount awarded, the disbursement amount per quarter for the current year, the purpose of the grant funds, and terms of the grant.
It is essential that the CA be completed (obtain all required signatures) and returned to the Foundations Department at the Diocesan Office. Upon receipt of your completed CA the funds will be distributed on a quarterly basis.
Completed Covenant Agreements should be addressed to:
Attn: Angela Smith, Foundations Assistant
Episcopal Diocese of Texas
Houston, Texas 77002
- Ongoing monitoring and support.
As your SMG funded program evolves, the SMG Committee will require a periodical project status update to track progress of your project. In this way the grant can not only support your individual congregation but also develop ideas that can be helpful to other congregations in the diocese. The reviews are for monitoring purposes; there is no “grading” of the project, congregation, or leadership. Remember, there is no fail or pass. Relationship, impact, and worship are the end goals.
If questions or issues arise during the application process, a member of the SMG Committee or Mission Amplification Team will contact you to discuss.
Should an unexpected event occur that affects your grant or could potentially affect your grant, please contact a member of the SMG Committee as soon as possible.