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United Thank Offering 125th Anniversary Young Adult Grants awarded

May 11, 2015
Office of Public Affairs

Samuel McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, has announced the recipients of the United Thank Offering special $1250 grant for young adults (ages 21-30).

The United Thank Offering is a ministry to promote thankfulness and mission in the whole Church. Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering grants are awarded for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally in The Episcopal Church. Established by United Thank Offering in honor of its 125th anniversary, the Young Adult Grants will provide start-up funds for a new project that focuses on any of the Five Marks of Mission.  

Awarding a total of $11,250, one $1250 grant was awarded in each of the nine provinces of The Episcopal Church. A total of 20 applications were received and reviewed by the United Thank Offering Grants Committee.  The grants were approved by the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Church Executive Council.

The recipients are:

Province I: Diocese of Maine – Portland Emergent Missional Community Create; a new congregation to work with a community of un-churched young adults to address their spiritual lives.  This is a joint effort between the ELCA Synod and the Diocese of Maine.  Small intentional communities will meet in coffee shops or informal spaces with one to one relational gatherings. Funds will be used for website costs, rent spaces, food and material costs for hospitality. 

Province II: Diocese of Newark -Young Adults’ Visions (YAV); to provide a discernment retreat to build community for young adults to develop leadership skills, wrestle with theological questions, organize projects to serve communities and help diocese discern ways to minister to people aged 18-30. Funds will be used to subsidize YA participation in a weekend retreat.

Province III: Diocese of Virginia – Charis Community; to create an intentional community on an unused Episcopal Church property (small church building, four bedroom vicarage, and eight acres of land).  Four 20-something residents will lead weekly worship, creative relational programming and farming initiatives. Funds will be used for the salary for the young adult leader who is working on setting up the community as well as a tool shed, chicken coop and run, garden fencing, water catchment system, garden tilled and seeded and house repainted and furnished. 

Province IV:  Diocese of North Carolina – A Movable Feast; to provide chapel outfitting for A Movable Feast. Part food truck and part chapel on wheels, A Movable Feast provides food and a place for spiritual practices and discussions on college campuses not supported by diocesan campus ministries.  The truck will go to different sites on the campus of Durham Technical Community College and soon to North Carolina Central University. Funds will be used to outfit a chapel space—rug, votive candle, pillar candles, chairs, and cross, anything left over for food.

Province V: Diocese of Milwaukee – An EPIC Mission; to provide a house church style worship service once a week—twice a month with clergy and other times with non-clergy led services for young adults working in a large healthcare IT Company (EPIC) in Madison.  Many of the employees work very long hours each week and rarely leave the campus so the goal is to take church and community to them. Funds will be used for seven weeks of fees for a supply priest along with marketing and publicity.

Province VI: Diocese of Minnesota – Planting Young Adult Small Groups: Generation Hmong; to create small, self-sustaining groups that can cater to the busy schedules of young adults in the Hmong community.  Leaders will first engage young adults already a part of The Episcopal Church and then reach out to those who are not Episcopalians. Core components of the group meeting are gathering, the Word, the table, and sending out into the world. The small groups will gather in coffee shops or homes and engage in spiritual discernment conversations.  Funds will be used for supplies for gatherings, study books and writing equipment and supplement food and beverages.

Province VII: Diocese of Kansas – Summer Youth Ministry Internship for College Students; to provide stipends for two summer interns in who will plan and then take youth from the diocese to General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah (in coordination with the  Diocese of Western Missouri that did a similar program in the past).  Interns will learn about the process of electing a presiding bishop and the structure of General Convention to lead the group through the process. The interns will share their passion for the church with high school students. Funds will be used for the stipend to plan and lead this trip.

Province VIII: Diocese of El Camino Real – Reimagine; to create workshops to help six congregations in the diocese think creatively about the use of outdoor spaces, encouraging them to use some of their property to make small food gardens using conservation practices.  Funds to be used for supplies, honorarium (professional time for designed planning and vision meetings), fuel for travel to congregations, and garden supplies:  construction materials, plants and so forth.

Province IX: Diocese of Colombia – Breaking the Silence: Working to Address Sexual Violence Against Children and Decrease Teenage Pregnancy in Columbia; to provide workshops and create protection groups for potential victims of sexual violence from 10-18 years old.  The workshops will teach about bodies and sexual rights in addition to addressing teenage pregnancy issues. Funds to be used to hire professional staff to train volunteers and lead workshops (educational psychologists, sexologist, and teachers; transportation of staff and volunteers to vulnerable areas in Columbia to hold workshops; and create a database to monitor work of project.

“The United Thank Offering Board is very pleased with the results of this new endeavor and plans to continue reaching out to young adults in the next triennium,” commented Peg Cooper of the Diocese of Missouri, United Thank Offering Convener. “The members of the Board were amazed by the work these young adults are doing in the church, grateful for the opportunity to hear their stories, and to continue to journey with them in their ministry.”

A video of the start-ups will be showcased at the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, UT.

For more information contact the Rev. Heather Melton, United Thank Offering missioner.



The Five Marks of Mission are:

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom

To teach, baptize and nurture new believers

To respond to human need by loving service

To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation

To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth






The Episcopal Church: