NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A United Methodist bishops' task forced has awarded grants totaling $70,000 for programs to aid impoverished children outside the United States.
The task force made the 14 one-time international grants to assist local churches and annual conferences throughout the denomination's central conferences, or regions. Other grants may be made if funds become available. The recipients were chosen from among 43 applicants.
The denomination's Council of Bishops is raising funds for the program through its Initiative on Children and Poverty, Advance Special No. 982200-8. The initiative is aimed at focusing the United Methodist Church life and ministry on "the least of these," said Bishop Donald A. Ott, coordinator.
Most of the grants will support training efforts for ministry with children. The bishops are also funding projects aimed at helping street children and orphans, as well as programs that empower poor children through financial, educational and medical assistance.
In early 2002, the task force made 31 one-time grants to assist local churches in helping children who are poor throughout the United States. Unlike their U.S. counterparts, the central conference churches are churches of the poor, and their ministries are focused on the poor, Ott noted.
Seven active and six retired bishops, including Ott, serve on the task force, which meets four times a year. Three of the bishops are from annual conference outside the United States. Staff executives from several churchwide agencies as well as consultants have helped the task force.
Each grant is $5,000 unless otherwise noted. Recipients are listed by central conference regions.
- Binmaley United Methodist Church of Pangasinan for a program of child care and responsible parenthood.
- Baguio Area for the region to provide training for children's ministries.
- Church of the Everlasting Father United Methodist Church for a project empowering poor children through financial, educational and medical assistance.
- Grace United Methodist Church for a project that feeds street children and helps them grow spiritually.
- The Board of Women's Work, which received $10,000 for a national consultation, to develop a comprehensive training program for children's ministries in the United Methodist Church in the Philippines.
- Children of Africa Hope Center at the Naivasha Parish for a ministry with street children.
- Three self-help ministries in Burundi, which are splitting $10,000: Buganda Parish United Methodist Church for a millet-grinding project; Murehe Parish United Methodist Church for a millet-grinding project; and Gitega Parish for a poultry-raising project for orphan children.
- Senegal Annual Conference for a project in Thies to provide computer training to young people.
- Community Ministry of the Liberia Annual Conference for a comprehensive conference ministry to children.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Kinshasa United Methodist Church of the West Congo Conference for a project that recovers and trains orphan girls who have been raped by soldiers.
- Utehe United Methodist Church of the Central Congo Annual Conference for a project to rebuild a school in a war-torn area.
- Latvijas Apvienota Methodistu Baznica (Latvian United Methodist Church) of the Estonia Annual Conference for a project to assist poor families in nine communities (12 congregations) with the costs of school supplies.
By Albert H. Lee