The Dakotas Conference is blessed to be the recipient of three grants totalling close to $3 million from Lilly Endowment Inc.'s Thriving in Ministry program. The first grant was awarded to the Dakotas-Minnesota area to address Clergy Financal Well-Being and Generosity, the Higher Ground Initiative, created from the second grant, focuses on the overall health of our clergy and the third grant will be used to launch the Dakotas Connection Initiative in 2021.
Clergy Financial Well-Being and Generosity
The Dakotas-Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church has received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to address the economic challenges facing our clergy. With these funds the Conferences will primarily address:
- Improving clergy personal financial well-being
- Strengthening church financial health
- Growing a culture of generosity within our churches
“The mission of the church is not to raise money or pay apportionments—it is to make generous disciples,” said former Dakotas-Minnesota Area Bishop Bruce R. Ough. “However, many of our clergy have debt and limited financial resources, and scarcity thinking paralyzes us. The Lilly Endowment grant will allow our churches and clergy to become financial stewards of God’s resources to expand ministry beyond our imagination. I am grateful to the Lilly Endowment for its expression of faith and resources for the Dakotas-Minnesota Area.” Read more here.
Higher Ground Initiative
The Dakotas Conference received a Lilly grant in the amount of $925,000 to create the Higher Ground Initiative. The purpose of this Initiative is to assist pastors with social, financial, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Higher Ground focus on two areas: retreats and coaching/mentorship to improve cleargy total well-being. Clergy are invited to attend a retreat as part of their 8 year assessment and they receive coaching to address a specific goal identified by the individual. Read more here.
Dakotas Connection Initiative
In 2020, the Dakotas Conference received over $980,000 in Lilly grant funds to form the Dakotas Connection Initiative. This program recognizes how to use our assets, strengths and technology to address the challenges of rural ministry. The three components of this initiative are to:
- Provide grants, training and support to churches open to working in team ministry
- Identify larger churches passionate about connecting with smaller churches in the areas of training and technology
- Create a network of clergy and lay leaders willing to share and learn from each other
The Dakotas UM Foundation has contributed $100,000 in matching funds to this initiative and is excited to see how this program will impact ministry across the conference. Read more here.