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Current Grantee Updates (click on cohort year to learn more)



Rev. Kathy Maskell, “Cultivating Faith: Intergenerational Mentorship and Spiritual Formation in Urban Denver” (East Denver Vineyard Neighborhood Church, Denver, CO)

Spring 2024: The early part of the year was spent brainstorming, planning and delegating assignments towards a focus on intergenerational spiritual formation. They began aligning and bringing in new spiritual formation tools, curriculum, and opportunities for adults. The church helped host a conversation with John Mark Comer, a pastor and writer who is seeking to bring the ancient spiritual disciplines afresh to the church in America. This inspired two small groups to dive into spiritual practices via Comer’s “Practicing The Way” and Tish Warren’s “Liturgy of the Ordinary.” In addition, they kicked off our new spiritual formation group for leaders, reading Henri Nouwen’s “Return of the Prodigal Son” and practicing silence, confession, lectio divina, and visio divina.

They have also intentionally created intergenerational formation opportunities through youth and kids serving dinner together with adults at a sanctioned emcampment for 40 adults, participating together with our Ash Wednesday and Good Friday service, engaging two families seeking asylum from Venezuela at our Last Sundays connect brunch, 20-somethings joining our small groups, and an 84-year old and 27-year old joining our kids ministry team. In addition, they will be piloting their first pilgrimage experience the first weekend of June. Their spiritual formation group has been focused on spiritual practices, and assistant pastor has been meeting individually with leaders to process assessments.

Rev. Dr. Young Lee Hertig, “Asian American Congregational Leadership Survey” (Innovative Spaces in Asian American Christianity-ISAAC, Pasadena, CA)

Spring 2024: The team has been analyzing the Asian American Congregational Leadership Survey data to identify and unpack themes from participants from urban contexts.

Rev. Chris Lawrence, “Supporting Seniors and Building Community at Gaylord White Houses” (InnerChange East Harlem NYC, New York, NY)

Spring 2024: The last few weeks they worked hard with 7 seniors and 20 volunteers to raise funds for a fleet of adaptive three wheel bicycles. These are now being used to put high schoolers, college kids and other adults in the driving seat, piloting one or two seniors around the streets of East Harlem, but mostly heading into the green spaces together. Central Park is going to be a regular destination for those who have been spending too much time on their own indoors. Because the seniors are passengers in the front seat, it is easy to have continuous conversation for the hour or two which it takes to head out from East Harlem and around a local park. This is so much more time together than was ever possible when we were knocking on doors and doing home visits. It is also very popular as a way of spending Saturdays in the summer as 17-30 year olds, when wanting to combine getting fit with finding friendships within this senior population in the neighborhood.

Rev. Barry Randolph, “The BLVD Harambee Project” (Church of the Messiah, Detroit, MI)

Spring 2024: As part of leadership work for BLVD Harambee young people lead community outreach in the city. This photo showcases the work being done to end gun violence. The program hosts an event called Silence the Violence. It started out as a church vigil for gun violence victims in 2008 and now is a statewide event in the state of Michigan. There are 11 cities in Michigan now hosting events in the state. Their young people are learning how to lead in and out of the building expanding the love of God in the community in times of grieve and sorrow. The young people are also organizing other churches to work on social issues that plague our society and help bring peace and healing.


Rev. Sarah Gautier, “Esperanza Collab” (Living Stones Church, Boston, MA)

Fall 2023: 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)

Fall 2023: 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 the young adults. During the summer a group of 12 individuals was able to travel to Michigan and do missionary work, which was a dream come true for the parish community since it was never been done before. Their 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)

Fall 2023: 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)

Fall 2023: 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)

Fall 2023: 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.

Spring 2024: The grant timeline has been extended to accommodate an additional talent show and other ways of bringing the congregations together through the arts.

Rev. Barry Randolph, “The BLVD Harambee Project” (Church of the Messiah, Detroit, MI)

Fall 2023: 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. 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)

Fall 2023: 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.



Dr. AnneMarie Mingo, “The H.O.P.E Network at Metro Urban Institute” (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA)

Spring 2024: The H.O.P.E. Network at the Metro-Urban Institute held an initial community training workshop through the Community Conversations on Race and Faith. Non-violence and bias training workshop facilitator Brian Johnson led the group through an interactive session that provided insights into the biases that can often lead to disagreements that result in violence. By learning verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, participants were able to take information with them to start implementing in their communities and ministries (including creative arts ministries - poets).

Dr. David Leong, “Seattle Pacific Seminary for the City: Local Community Engagement and Learning Partnerships” (Seattle, WA)

Spring 2024: This spring has been spent mostly asset-mapping and networking with the seminary’s existing partners: Urban Impact Seattle, the Parish Collective, and World Relief of Western Washington. In each case, good opportunities exist for further collaboration on pastoral formation and urban theological education in the city of Seattle. As they head into June and the end of the academic year, Leong will be working with his Dean and Seminary director to identify programmatic recommendations for the coming year.


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

Fall 2023: 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, they hope to promote mental and emotional wellness among the Chinese immigrant community beginning with the Greater Vancouver Chinese immigrant churches. They 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. They also plan to create a web-based resource that is accessible to the larger public.

Spring 2024: They are excited to see the launch of the Project Shalom website ( after a few months of preparation. This website is meant to be a resource to the Chinese immigrant community to raise awareness on mental/emotional health. The site consists of research data, book recommendations and a wellness blog for pastors, parents, and youth. They have also lined up workshop/seminar series and retreats for different groups. The first seminar will take place in May 2024.

Rev. Iris de Jesus, “Next Generation Leader,” (Revelation University, Miami, FL)

Fall 2023: 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. They do this through in person and online training. However, there are limitations of their 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 their current program and help develop a more focused mission on ministerial development and local urban Hispanic church planting in their context of Miami. Furthermore, this program will help clarify their 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.

Spring 2024: In the initial phase of the program, a diagnostic survey was conducted to understand the specific needs of the Hispanic pastor community in South Miami and select program candidates. Although the participation did not reach the original goal, since the number of surveys collected was 61 when they aspired to collect 100. From this analysis, 20 pastors were initially identified to participate in the program, of which 16 were able to acquire the commitment to attend in person. During the development of the program, 2 continued online and 5 left due to work commitments. 11 participants completed this educational axis.

To accommodate the time available, they reduced the duration of each class by one hour and extended the number of classes from 4 to 5 to meet the objectives. In addition, they have paused to be able to continue the recruitment of additional participants. Since all classes were recorded, the newly recruited participants may be able to catch up, and then all of them will be on the same track. The project team met to rework and accommodate the schedules of busy pastors.

Rev. Dr. Shola Owabajo, “The Future of the Church: Raising the Next Generation of Leaders” (Redeemers University North America, Dallas, TX)

Fall 2023: 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 their 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.

Spring 2024: In March, the RUNA Leadership Bridge project conducted its first workshop. During the workshop, students were taught about the importance of establishing a strong spiritual foundation for young Christian leaders. They also learned how to deepen their understanding of the Bible and Christian doctrine, and how to apply Christian principles to their daily lives. The workshop aimed to foster a commitment to ongoing personal discipleship among the students.

Alexia Salvatierra, “The Joshua Project - Formation of Young Pastors for Muti-Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Collaboration” (Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA)

Fall 2023: 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, they 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.

They 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)

Fall 2023: CUME’s mission is to provide a contextualized theological education for urban practitioners. They 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.

The CUME team hopes to learn from multicultural, urban practitioners best practices and models which they use in the urban church and various other ministry settings. They 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 current and future program offerings and to inform their urban curriculum. They will also use the learnings to create tools as well as to publish 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)

Fall 2023: 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.

Spring 2024: Hope for the City: Transforming Urban Leaders, based in Baltimore Maryland, launched in December 2023 with the aim of developing 21st-century urban leaders to serve the city. The key launch event was a full-day leadership development gathering “re-Surge” on December 16th at Morgan State University with over 40 church and non-profit leaders attending to work through restorative leadership practices for leading in post-pandemic reality. Transforming Urban Leaders, Cohort One launched on February 17, 2024. With 26 cohort participants, representing 7 states and the District of Columbia. TUL is a 12-week urban transformational leadership collaborative covering various critical leadership areas designed to equip urban ministry and nonprofit practitioners. TUL COhort One will run through June 8, 2024, with a second cohort slated to begin in September 2024.

Rev. Dr. Kyuboem Lee, “Understanding Asian-Black Relations in Philadelphia and how they inform Pastoral Formation” (Mission Seminary, Philadelphia, PA)

Fall 2023: 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.

Spring 2024: The project has a Co-Director, Dr. Chad Hinson, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Missio Seminary. This photo was taken on a rainy day from Camden, NJ, looking across Delaware River towards Philadelphia, PA, during a planning session.

Dr. David Leong, “Urban Ministry Leadership Cohort” (Seattle Pacific Seminary, Seattle, WA)

Fall 2023: 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, they 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, they committed to fellowship, prayer, conversation, and discernment. They have 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)

Fall 2023: 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 them to reach more students across more degree programs.

Through this new specialization they 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)

Fall 2023: 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). The 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)

Fall 2023: 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.

Spring 2024: The core team has met with several learning communities in Toronto and Vancouver over the past couple of months, building relationships and sharing ideas. They spent several days with the NAIITS learning community over meals and in the classroom, immersing themselves in the practice of Indigenous Appreciative Inquiry. Several days were also spent in Vancouver dialoguing with key urban ministry practitioners/educators from Citygate, Union Gospel Mission, Tenth Ave Church, the Centre for Missional Leadership at St Andrew’s Hall as well as other groups. As they are learning, they are also applying the new knowledge in current ministries, whether that be through city site tours with classes or amidst church community initiatives. They are currently planning for several gatherings with the core team to start taking a deep dive into what each bring to the table regarding the urban ministry curriculum, pedagogy and critical content. They are also preparing for a trip to Boston and New York City in May, where they will rub shoulders and build bonds with other learning communities.



Kelly Fassett, “Boston Sankofa Journey Affinity Working Group” (Unite Boston, Boston, MA)

Spring 2024: This is a photo from the group’s first gathering - the “Boston Sankofa Journey” working group. Made up of local clergy and leaders, the group will be working to reconstruct a common memory on the history of slavery in Boston and identify a discipleship learning pathway with content and experiences that can contribute towards racial healing and shalom. It was a great start. They appreciate prayers for God’s wisdom and discernment over the team as they discern the path forward.


Erika Lee, “Contemplative Spaces in the Formation of Compassionate Leaders and Communities: A National Cohort” (Women of Wonder!, New York, NY)

Fall 2023: 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 they 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)

Fall 2023: 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.

The group’s 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. They hope that at the end of the year, they will be better equipped to lead and disciple the youth in their care and if possible, create a program that can be sustained in our churches. Key questions asked 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)

Fall 2023: The Gleaning Project is bringing renewal to marginalized neighbors and caring for the Earth through art. Through a partnership with Storefront Church, they are focusing on the communities along the High Line. They collect discarded materials such as plastic bags, used tea bags, and aluminum foil. These materials serve as the canvas for artwork, and they 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 their partnership with Storefront Church growing stronger. They have hosted their 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.

Spring 2024: They look forward to hosting an exhibition of the work produced with six participants in June 2024. They have seen tangible impacts on participants’ lives with job placement, educational pursuits, and access to mental health resources. There is progress for Gleaning Project to work towards 501c3 status, while communications and administrative collaboration between Gleaning Project, Storefront Church, and the general public have also grown. Some challenges that have come up are cultivating sustainability for the future and balancing art production with the fragility of the participant group. The program will continue in partnership with Storefront, but also expand with other churches like All Angels and Neighborhood Church at Greenwich Village.

Brian Petersen, “Pillars of Hope: From Food Line to Banquet Table” (with Heaven Sent, Miami, FL)

Fall 2023: 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. They have made significant strides in bringing the transformative project to life. Their efforts have focused on establishing crucial connections and generating enthusiasm within the community. They are now close to developing a contract with the City of Miami, a significant milestone that will pave the way for the collaborative effort and shared vision of addressing food insecurity and building connection with 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.

Spring 2024: The City of Miami’s Art in Public Places has approved the project for the murals in the underpass, and now it is awaiting approval with a parking lot management company.

Susan Shimazu, “VISIBLE Polylogue” (with Newsong Church, Santa Ana, CA)

Fall 2023: 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. They 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 they have been working on developing the curriculum modules and plan to begin the program training in January. They have decided due to geography and travel that they will convene our trainings on zoom, with the final event in person at a location to be determined.

Spring 2024: Due to unforeseen circumstances, the project will now be done in partnership with Newsong Church and other local non-profit organizations. The timeline has shifted to May-June with an Open Mic event in July 2024.

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

Fall 2023: 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, Dennissa is partnering with her 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.

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

Spring 2024: The group weekend happened with much enthusiasm and participation on March 1-3, 2024. More details forthcoming…