When the Mission Development Resources Committee (MDRC) met in Louisville in early November, I had the chance to meet this dedicated group. This committee of 12, elected by the General Assembly through the General Assembly Nominating Committee, reviews applications from presbyteries for new church development and church transformation funds and decides which ones to fund. Earlier this year, MDRC awarded more than $1.1 million for 16 new multi-year grants for church-related projects. These are great stories! Included in the awards last spring were grants for the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Valverde New Church Development in Denver, Colorado, a new congregation in the southwest corner of the city that will share worship space with Valverde Community Church, a declining congregation that's more than 100 years old. In Paramus, New Jersey, the Trinity Multicultural Congregational Transformation project is adding a Chinese-speaking ministry to provide Reformed spiritual nourishment to this growing, yet underserved, Chinese population. Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Santa Ana, California, is establishing the Samaritan Care Center to provide its members and the community with resources, educational programs, and counseling to meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Tim McCallister, associate in the Office of Mission Program Grants, has said, "Making these grants is proof that the church is still alive. That the GAC and presbyteries are willing to start churches in new places, and reach out to people who don't have a church home, or may not have gone to church for a long, long time -- or even never."
It is simply thrilling to know that in the last ten years, more than $33 million has gone to new church developments, church transformation and community organizing programs that are improving neighborhoods. MDRC will announce its next round of awards in early December.