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Current Grantee Updates
Rev. Sarah Gautier, “Esperanza Collab” (Living Stones Church, Boston, MA)
Esperanza is a ministry of Living Stones Church in partnership with EastieFit (a CrossFit gym), Infinite Ballers (a youth soccer development program), and East Boston High School Boys Soccer Team. The goal of Esperanza is to provide free fitness and mentoring programs to Latine youth in East Boston that empowers them to build hope for their futures. In 2023, Esperanza hosted mentorship and fellowship programs for high school and college students, held two 6-week fitness programs, encouraged healthy eating, purchased fitness equipment to bring the “gym” outdoors, and provided strength and conditioning coaching for a boys’ soccer team.
Gabriela Hernandez (Balbuena), “Cafe con Cristo with Youth” (Church of Our Savior, Bronx, NY)
The “Cafe Con Cristo” Young Adult program, based at Church of Our Savior in the Bronx, has grown over its first grant period (2021-22). The group meets on a biweekly session in a safe space within the church, and has grown from three to 21 participants. Sessions include bible study, prayer worship , counseling, and many different talents are shared by our young adults. During the summer a group of 12 individuals were able to travel to Michigan and do missionary work, which was a dream come true for the parish community since it’s never been done before. Our goals are to grow as group, and have the opportunity to help more within the US northern region and Latin missions.
Rev. Chris Lawrence, “Supporting Seniors and Building Community at Gaylord White Houses” (InnerChange East Harlem NYC, New York, NY)
InnerCHANGE East Harlem NYC was launched in January 2019 by a family who had relocated from England back in 2014. The team is committed to Jesus-centered companionship alongside those struggling with the tough challenges of loneliness, loss of direction, isolation, and poor health. This project focuses on 284 residents of a public housing apartment building, Gaylord White Houses (GWH) in New York’s East Harlem neighborhood. The grant will be allocated to building relationships with seniors at GWH to provide support, healthy activities and learning opportunities as well as constructing a new garden to serve as a space for community building.
Erika Lee, “Cultivating Presence for Deeply Rooted Spiritual Transformation” (Women of Wonder!, New York, NY)
Women of Wonder! (WOW!) exists to grow a community that walks alongside women to uncover and affirm their God-given calling through prayer, teaching, and celebration. The goal of this project is to promote pathways to care and connection in relation to sustaining healthy leaders in the urban ministry contexts participants feel called to.
Rev. Michael Mata, “The Arts as Transformational Ministry” (LA First Church of the Nazarene, Los Angeles, CA)
The purpose of the Arts Transformational Ministry (ATM) project is to strengthen the bonds between the five congregations that comprise Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene—namely the English-speaking congregation, Spanish-speaking congregation, South Korean and North Korean congregations and Filipino congregation—and thus as “a unified church” enhance its efforts to be a “bridge-builder” with the surrounding diverse community. LA First Church of the Nazarene hosted a talent show for the community this summer, including an art exhibition and food trucks! They were also busy with their summer program. We are thankful for the work HUB grantee Rev. Michael Mata is doing in the city of LA!
Rev. Barry Randolph, “The BLVD Harambee Project” (Church of the Messiah, Detroit, MI)

Church of the Messiah Detroit is a 149 year old episcopal church on the east side of Detroit in a neighborhood called Islandview. The church is known for its many ministries including 200 units of affordable housing, internet services, its business incubation center for the community, and its literacy programs for young people to get into college. Church of the Messiah is also known for the fact that 60% of its congregation is african American males under the age of 30, and 70% of the overall congregation is under the age of 40. The church is also mixed race with people of all backgrounds in attendance. All of this is possible because of the spiritual commitment made by the church to make a difference in the world. Our young people are being trained to be leaders in the community through the power of the scriptures.

BLVD Harambee builds leadership through enlightenment, education, empowerment, employment, and entrepreneurship. Four young people ages 23-32 are being prepared for seminary for the upcoming year. Six of them are community activists, and five of them are broadcasters on our Christian radio show called “I Am Detroit!“ BLVD Harambee has helped six members to start their own businesses and two have community-owned businesses.

Debra-Ortiz Vasquez and Lianette Pappaterra, “One Body Philly” (Esperanza Health Center, Philadelphia, PA)

The goal of One Body Philly is to encourage increased dialogue among and between Christian groups, increase appreciation for the richness and diversity of Christian traditions, and engage in collective action as a unified body of Christ. We seek to accomplish this in the following ways: 1. Create a central platform to share existing initiatives; 2. Convene a diverse design team to curate and develop experiences centered on being and doing (prayer and action); and3. Develop EHC’s organizational capacity for ecumenical work through staff training and professional development.

To date, EHC supported neighbors and neighborhood nonprofits in hosting The Longest Night, a prayer service for those experiencing grief during the holiday season. Two book clubs were offered for EHC staff; the books highlighted traditions and practices from different denominations. An ecumenical Taize prayer was shared at an EHC retreat as an offering for staff to learn about Taize and experience Taize-style contemplative prayer and worship. EHC engaged with the Community Center at Visitation, an FBO, to reinstate and support their quarterly Interfaith Dinners as a gathering place for churches and FBOs in Kensington, and they have identified a lead for the design team to curate ecumenical experiences of being and doing.

Rev. Dr. Joyce Chan, “Project Shalom: Enhancing Pastoral and Congregational Wellness among Canadian Chinese Churches” (Canadian Chinese School of Theology Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Canadian Chinese School of Theology Vancouver (CCSTV) is situated in Richmond, B.C., one of the major hubs of Chinese immigration in Canada. The Canadian Chinese immigrant churches began in the early 1900s as a missionary outreach to Chinese immigrants. The Chinese immigrant churches have been an important place not only for spiritual and personal growth but also for social connection. They provide social, spiritual and emotional support as well as practical help to new Chinese immigrants to Canada. There are about 120 Chinese churches in the Greater Vancouver area. As of 2022, Christians made up approximately 30 percent of the Chinese Canadian population (Che, 2023).

With this initiative, we are hoping to promote mental and emotional wellness among the Chinese immigrant community beginning with the Greater Vancouver Chinese immigrant churches. We hope to focus on pastors and their families serving in the Chinese Canadian churches; new immigrants, singles or with families; and next generation - youth and first year university students. We also hope to create a web-based resource that is accessible to the larger public.

Rev. Iris de Jesus, “Next Generation Leader,” (Revelation University, Miami, FL)
The mission of Revelation University is to train leaders with Christian values capable of promoting the process of human and social transformation for the construction of a better world. We do this through in person and online training. However, we see the limitations of our current program in effectively developing Hispanic leaders to flourish in church planting in Miami, South Florida, and a general urban context. This project will strengthen the capacity of our current program and help develop a more focused mission on ministerial development and local urban Hispanic church planting in our context of Miami. Furthermore, this program will help clarify our desire of planting Hispanic churches with a heart for “whole person growth” in our city and discover what that will look like at Revelation University.
Rev. Dr. Shola Owabajo, “The Future of the Church: Raising the Next Generation of Leaders” (Redeemers University North America, Dallas, TX)
In the context of the Redeemed Christian Church of God denomination, the purpose of this project is to gather evidence-based information about the church’s readiness to raise young leaders. A rise in population is also observed among this subgroup. There is a multidimensional scope to the changes taking place in the world today. To remain relevant, the church needs to understand the trend and raise young leaders who can do so. By providing spiritual formation, spiritual mentorship, and the opportunity for visionary leadership, this project will lead to the development of a curriculum to help the church invest in and equip these cohorts. In the end, the church is envisioned as having a solid future and continuing to win souls and impact our community in accordance with the divine mandate. A convening was held in October 2023. An open-ended questionnaire was distributed, and a focus group discussion was hosted in order to begin data collection. This will help for future planning.
Alexia Salvatierra, “The Joshua Project - Formation of Young Pastors for Muti-Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Collaboration” (Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA)

This project engages the leadership of Fuller Theological Seminary’s Center for Asian American Theology & Ministry (AAC), Centro Latino (CL), and Pannell Center for Black Church Studies (PC). Each are engaged in research projects with 18-25 year old Christian leaders in their respective communities/demographics. Building on this research, we will engage local pastors of color under the age of 45 to determine how they can break down the silos between their churches in order to facilitate multi-racial/ethnic/cultural collaboration for the benefit of the city. We will carry out individual interviews and focus groups.

We seek to understand (1) the changing needs and assets of the Asian, Hispanic and African American communities in the greater Los Angeles area (2) the current response of ethnic congregations to their context (3) the barriers that stand in the way of collaborative community ministry between primarily Asian, Hispanic and Black clergy and congregations, (4) the potential for identifying common community concerns and for supporting each other’s concerns, and (5) how Fuller’s ethnic centers could support these leaders and their churches in collaborating in community ministry.

Dr. Virginia Ward, “Spiritual Formation Practices in Multicultural Contexts” (Center for Urban Ministerial Education, Gordon Conwell Seminary, Boston, MA)

CUME’s mission is to provide a contextualized theological education for urban practitioners. We partner with and are informed by the local church as a training partner. This grant would enable CUME to design its programs for institutional learning that would elevate how we engage the ministry needs of the city and the spiritual formation of ministry leaders in the current, critically evolving context. Specifically, this planning grant would enable CUME to investigate and design for that context and thereby refine its equipping of urban leaders through focus groups with key stakeholders.

We hope to learn from multicultural, urban practitioners best practices and models which they use in the urban church and various other ministry settings. We also hope to identify the components of our current formation practices that do not provide our students’ spiritual formation with the requisite multicultural skills and dimensionality. The learnings will then be used to shape our current and future program offerings and to inform our urban curriculum. We will also use the learnings to create tools as well as to publish our findings on contextualized urban spiritual formation as resources applicable to varied contexts for our current students and alumni.

Rev. Anthony Hunt, “Transforming Urban Leaders (TUL)” (Epworth Methodist Church, Baltimore, MD)
Hope for the City: Transforming Urban Leaders (TUL) is a project based in Baltimore, MD that addresses the need and opportunity to provide transformational leadership development training for persons (laity and clergy) serving in urban ministry contexts. The project is rooted in the premise that highly developed and skilled transformational leaders (clergy and lay) are key determinants in church and community vitality and that leadership development processes that are specifically tailored to the particular needs of persons serving in urban contexts are needed. TUL is focused on providing contextualized leadership development for lay and clergy leaders serving in churches and nonprofit settings in Baltimore. Along with general leadership topics, the TUL training model is designed to address several issues that are germane to ministry in urban settings (e.g., trauma in urban communities). In 2023, TUL has conducted hybrid and on site workshops on various topics for local church leaders in wider Baltimore area.
Rev. Dr. Kyuboem Lee, “Understanding Asian-Black Relations in Philadelphia and how they inform Pastoral Formation” (Mission Seminary, Philadelphia, PA)
This project was undertaken from January 2023 to June 2023 to identify the contours of the relationship between Asian American and African American communities, specifically Christian communities, and to explore how these characteristics inform educational and formational programs that train pastors and other Christian leaders in the American city, specifically the city of Philadelphia. The findings of this research project would provide the foundations of a learning experience at Missio Seminary on furthering the dialogue and understanding between Asian American and Black Christians in the city. Some key themes emerged from the research: one, the need for mutual understanding and education regarding the other; two, the need to highlight narratives of solidarity to inspire further actions of solidarity; three, the larger context of racial power structures that pit the two minority communities against each other; four, the need to authentically and courageously face the daunting barriers that exist between the two communities and move towards authentic (not superficial) reconciliation; and five, the need to join together in mutually beneficial collaborative efforts as steps towards healing.
Dr. David Leong, “Urban Ministry Leadership Cohort” (Seattle Pacific Seminary, Seattle, WA)

The goal of this project was to develop and sustain urban ministry leaders at Seattle Pacific Seminary (SPS) who are committed to personal, spiritual, and communal flourishing in their own lives and the lives of those they serve. An ongoing gap in SPS’ work has been deeper, more intentional, and sustainable leadership development for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students serving diverse communities. In coordination with Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, this leadership cohort was formed to build closer relationships, make space for deeper reflection about ministry challenges, and practice the kind sustainable spiritual discernment needed for leaders to thrive.

For 2022-23, we focused more intentionally on the “Inward Life of Sustainable Leadership” in conversation with local pastors, spiritual directors, and experienced ministry practitioners. Through six gatherings over the course of about 10 months, we committed to fellowship, prayer, conversation, and discernment. We’ve learned that deep longings for communal flourishing require deep awareness of God & self, and that self-care is a sacred, essential act.

Rev. Dr. Lorena Parrish, “Innovation-Focused Urban Ministry Immersions” (Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC)

Wesley Theological Seminary has long been a place that has fostered innovation, both within the classroom and beyond. For nearly 10 years, Wesley’s Community Engagement Institute has had a “fellows” program that has allowed students to create and implement unique community-based projects with regular teaching, mentoring, and collegial support over the course of six semesters. With the help of our HUB Grant, the Community Engagement Institute (CEI) Fellows Program is transitioning into a Community Engagement Master’s Specialization, which will allow us to reach more students across more degree programs.

Through this new specialization we will be able to equip M.Div. and M.A. students with the opportunity to pursue community engagement and spiritual entrepreneurship within urban churches and communities through course work and immersions. Students will engage faith-based community leaders and their churches who are partnering with others in their community to engage in innovative community revitalization and transformation. Exploring the practice of ministry in the context of distinctly different urban settings will provide students with the chance to engage in critical conversations with skilled urban ministry pastors and laypersons who are deeply committed to practicing a human-centered approach to ministry. It will expand their thinking about what it means to create the beloved community and enhance their ability as ministers to foster the well-being of all God’s people.

Rev. Christian Scharen, “Missional Church Leadership Formation Network” (St. Lydia’s Church, Brooklyn, NY)

This grant allowed for the beginnings of a new network for leadership formation that has as its focus on being of use to a range of leaders in new missional communities within the ELCA, and perhaps as it grows, other similarly positioned old mainline protestant traditions. This is necessary work because the old mainline protestant traditions are in sharp decline, and their continued investment in traditional forms theological education do not effectively equip leadership for the growing group of church plants experimenting with God’s call to do “a new thing” (Isaiah 43). Our goal is to begin to build the foundations for an accessible, online, module-based leadership formation network that centers practitioners and communities of practice in urban mission sites. Two core objectives are key to taking initial steps towards such a leadership formation network: 1) to build partnerships towards such a network, and 2) experiment with building the sorts of modules that would make up the core of the leadership formation work.

Module leader recruitment efforts will privilege local expertise, and will decenter the typical Ph.D. required in seminary faculties. Further, modules will be built in conversation with practitioners and potential students as well as module leaders. Modules will be built cross-sectionally from the historic divisions and fields of the theological curriculum.

Jesse Sudirgo, “The Pulse of Urban Ministry in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)” (Tyndale University, Toronto, ON, Canada)
The Pulse of Urban Ministry in the Greater Toronto Area project sought to capture a snapshot of the lived experiences of urban ministry practitioners and organizations in order to better understand the formative influences that contribute to their well-being and the flourishing of their ministries. The 6-month project involved the formation of a team of researchers, an event gathering 26 community leaders, a video series documenting 4 sessions concerning the recovery of hospitality in our city, and the completion of a research project involving urban ministry practitioners and educators. We identified the precarity of commitment from institutions in hosting urban formation programs, which in some cases, lead to program closures. We hope to address the bigger picture need to figure out how to design a model for urban formation that is both innovative and sustainable for the institutions and the programs they host.
Erika Lee, “Contemplative Spaces in the Formation of Compassionate Leaders and Communities: A National Cohort” (Women of Wonder!, New York, NY)
The goal of this group is to cultivate connection among ministry leaders who would like to explore the relationship between contemplative practices in the formation of compassionate leaders and communities. A question we will be focusing our time around is: How do we embody compassion into relationships to create contemplative spaces of listening for women struggling with faith and church life so that they can emerge and thrive as compassionate leaders in their (urban) communities? This will inform a secondary exploration of developing a roadmap or signposts for how compassion can be developed within organizations, Christian or otherwise.
Oluwatoyin (Toyin) Omolola, “Youth Ministry in Cosmopolitan Cities” (Timothy Project / DSI International, New York, NY)
Many youth leaders of Nigerian churches in different cities in the USA have expressed the challenges they experience in ensuring that they are able to function effectively in their ability to impart to their youth Christian values that result in stronger youth ministries and spiritual development. There are different layers of challenges that include societal norms, cultural integration, time and the general monotony associated with the styles of different ministries which discourages the youth (ages 13-30y) from full engagement. Our goal is to bring five youth leaders together to discuss and explore creative ways that they can revamp their youth ministries as leaders with a view to building spiritually strong and confident individuals and viable youth ministries. We hope that at the end of the year, we will be better equipped to lead and disciple the youth in our care and if possible, create a program that can be sustained in our churches. Key questions we ask are: 1. How do we make Christianity and spirituality desirable for youth in our communities? 2. What are creative ways that youth can thrive in as people of faith in the city?
Noemia Boccato, “The Gleaning Project” (with Storefront Church, New York, NY)

The Gleaning Project is bringing renewal to our marginalized neighbors and caring for the Earth through art. Through a partnership with Storefront Church, we are focusing on the communities along the High Line. We collect discarded materials such as plastic bags, used tea bags, and aluminum foil. These materials serve as the canvas for our artwork, and we employ and train under-served individuals as artist assistants. The collected materials undergo a creative metamorphosis. They are meticulously cleaned, cut, crocheted, sewed, braided, and transformed into unique art pieces. This transformative process not only produces art but also fosters a sense of community, purpose, and healing among our neighbors. All the completed art pieces are showcased, marketed, and sold, and the profits generated are reinvested back into the project, fueling our mission and sustainable growth.

Over the past few months, the Gleaning Project has seen remarkable progress, with our partnership with Storefront Church growing stronger. We have hosted our first art exhibition at Neighbor, the church’s community space, helped to support the transition of participants to more stable life situations and steadier employment, and expanded the program into a one-year experience.

Brian Petersen, “Pillars of Hope: From Food Line to Banquet Table” (with Heaven Sent, Miami, FL)
The “From Food Line to Banquet Table” grant brings art and community together with Heaven Sent, a meal ministry with the unhoused in Miami, FL. We’ve made significant strides in bringing our transformative project to life. Our efforts have focused on establishing crucial connections and generating enthusiasm within the community. We are now close to developing a contract with the City of Miami, a significant milestone that will pave the way for our collaborative effort and shared vision of addressing food insecurity and building connection with our neighbors with art and creativity. At a recent event where a presentation about the project as a platform to engage the community was made, there was an outpouring of support. As a result, the Heaven Sent leadership team has begun to develop their volunteer sign up sheets to accommodate the large dinners. Heaven Sent’s volunteers, well-known for their dedication and passion for community service, have shown unwavering support for our initiative. They recognize the transformative power of our mission, and their endorsement is a testament to the potential our project holds for bringing about positive change.
Susan Shimazu, “VISIBLE Polylogue” (with Asian American Christian Collaborative, Los Angeles, CA)

The VISIBLE Polylogue is a project focused on designing a curriculum that will enable participants to learn about Social Practice Art and its use in promoting change in urban and minority communities. We will involve Christians in a dialogue with local community organizations to learn about needs within the Asian American communities using art based workshops. The curriculum will provide training on what Social Practice is and give examples of different social practice artists and their work in various mediums.

The curriculum will also provide participants with the opportunity to learn different tools that can be used to communicate messages artistically. Since July we have been working on developing the curriculum modules and plan to begin the program training in January. We have decided due to geography and travel that we will convene our trainings on zoom, with our final event in person at a location to be determined.

Dennissa Young, “Bureau of Friendship” (with Oasis Church, Chicago, IL)

The Bureau of Friendship brings together five monochromatic performances about connection, intimacy and relationships. These performances are externalizing the internal emotions of what it means to be a friend. The Bureau of Friendship functions as a container to feel, experience and immerse oneself in radical softness. The goal of this piece is to create time, space and energy to honor and define friendships. In accompaniment to this artist approach to friendship, I am partnering with my church to create a Formation Group around Biblical Friendship. The hope is to engage Oasis Church Chicago’s mind in the concepts of what it means to live in the world and be a Christ-like friend. The Formation Group will challenge and encourage people from Oasis to invite people to the Bureau of Friendship weekend.

I have broadened my team and brought on a co-collaborator. We project for the popup weekend to happen in March/April of 2024. The Formation Group will lead up to the weekend-long performance.