New grant process supports ELCA youth, young adult ministries

6/11/2015 2:00:00 PM

            CHICAGO (ELCA) – Expanding ministries among youth and young adults is a priority for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). To help cultivate young leaders, embrace a culture of diversity and inclusion and build a robust network of support, a new grant process is now available to support this church's priority.

            The grant process is part of Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA – a five-year campaign approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. It seeks to raise $198 million by Jan. 31, 2019, in support of new and existing churchwide ministries above and beyond those supported by regular weekly offerings. The goal for the ELCA Youth and Young Adults priority is $4 million.
            "The new grant process allows innovative thinkers within the church to partner with congregations to apply for funding to give their creative ideas legs," according to Ian McConnell, a student at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. Luther is one of eight ELCA seminaries.
            McConnell supported the youth and young adult campaign initiative at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. "About a year later, a varied and diverse group of church leaders, pastors, youth and young adults gathered in Chicago to discuss allocation of that $4 million, develop language about our core values and to responsibly use and invest this money," he said.
            McConnell called the youth and young adult grant process "a hopeful step in the right direction. Young people asked the church, 'Are you actually with us?' And the church energetically responded, 'Yes!' in a way that will work to listen first and then act in a way that empowers and supports youth, young adults and congregations to act from within their own cultural contexts."
            "I think the Lutheran church is often portrayed (and often portrays itself) as a predominantly aging institution. Throughout its history in the United States, it has often been slow to embrace new realities and cultures in a meaningful way. The fact that we were able to stir up so much enthusiasm and momentum using both the #AreYouWithUs Twitter hashtag, along with personal testimony at the (churchwide assembly) plenary sessions makes this even more exciting. As a young adult and seminarian myself, I'm encouraged that the church responded the way it did," said McConnell.
            Youth and young adults are present in the church right now, according to Rozella White, program director for ELCA Young Adult Ministries. "For so long, cultivating leadership has been about seminary education or professional church leadership. These grant opportunities will open the door to an expanded vision for youth and young adult leadership in this church for today and tomorrow."
            "One of our core values is about uplifting youth and young adults of color. That would be a priority in granting grants, because we recognize that the church has to face the changing face of this country," she said.
            "We are hopeful that through the awarding of these innovation grants our ministry partners in synods, congregations, outdoor ministries, campus ministries and the many other ways faith formation happens across this church will explore new and exciting ways to invest in raising up leaders and nurturing the gift of faith in our youth and young adults," said Paul Amlin, program director for ELCA Youth Ministries. "The possibilities are endless, and these grants speak to the vision of our youth and young adult leaders as change-makers in the church of today."
            Information about the grant application is available at and the ELCA campaign at
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

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Melissa Ramirez Cooper
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773-380-2956 or
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