Higher Education and Ministry Announces 2017 YCI Grant Recipients

Beth Neil
June 30, 2017

Cradle of the Call at Lakeview Methodist Conference Center
YCI Grant Recipients: Cradle of the Call at Lakeview Methodist Conference Center

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) as part of their strategy to enable and resource leadership within the church has selected the 2017 Young Clergy Initiative (YCI) grant recipients. This year, applications were received from every United Methodist jurisdictional conference, and of those applications, 34 grants were awarded. Award amounts vary based on project scope, and some grants are awarded funds over the period of several years for ongoing projects.

YCI encourages opportunities that leverage denominational change on systemic and cultural levels through various conversations, events, experiments, resources, research, and training. YCI invites grant requests that assist young people to listen for, discern, and respond to God’s call to ordained ministry. The grants are awarded to programs geared toward increasing the number of young clergy in The United Methodist Church.

YCI was established at the 2012 General Conference as a $7 million fund designed to “increase the number of young clergy among the jurisdictional conferences.” The initiative was developed for a three-quadrennia period (12 years), and is reassessed every four years at General Conference. In the first quadrennia, 78 grants were supported using the allotted funds. The amount disbursed in that period totaled about $5.5 million, since the funds available are dependent on giving to the World Service Apportionment Fund. The 2016 General Conference designated an additional $7 million to be used for grants in the current quadrennium (2017-2020). The YCI fund is administered by GBHEM.

“We’re focusing on sharing materials and resources produced from YCI projects with the rest of the denomination so other groups can apply what’s been learned and what’s being successfully practiced,” said Rev. Trip Lowery, director of young adult ministry discernment and enlistment at GBHEM. “Requests for more than $10 million were processed earlier this year. There is an obvious passion for this work and a focused interest in helping youth and young adults discern whether their call is to vocational ministry.”

Grant applications are initially reviewed by a team of staff members, including program staff at GBHEM and Discipleship Ministries. After the initial staff review, award amounts and recipients are decided by a fund distribution committee from the GBHEM Board of Directors.

“More than half of this year’s grant applications were for internship-related projects. Well-supervised internships have helped young people discern their place in church leadership since the Old Testament partnership between Samuel and Eli,” added Lowery. “We need to meet the students where they are and listen to what’s important to them. This year, many of the project applications reflected a passion for social justice, compassion, and mission. These are the experiences young adults feel God calling them to. We may have a shortage of young clergy, but we do not have a shortage of call.”

All applicants formed partnerships with churches, annual conferences, other institutions or individuals to work on the projects. Below is a list of this year’s grant recipients and the project director.

  • Black Church Leadership Development, Rev. Rhonda Parker
  • Called to Something Greater, Ashley Jenkins
  • Clark Atlanta University Young Clergy Development Internship, Anna Elaine Crawford
  • Change Makers Project, Christine Latona
  • Christian Leadership Center, Meredith Bell
  • Church and Community Fellowship Program, Courtney Aldrich
  • College Connection Retreat (CCR), Tanner Smith
  • Cradle of the Call at Lakeview Methodist Conference Center, Jonathan Estrada
  • Discerning, Designing, and Deploying 21st Century Collegiate Ministry Values and Practices, Rimes McElveen
  • Discernment Circles, Kathryn A. McElveen
  • DiscoverU, Rev. Shea James
  • EncounterMICall 2.0, Rev. Paul Perez
  • Experience United Methodist Seminaries, Brad Farrington
  • Exploration of Call, Rev. Steve Simoneaux
  • Explore Summer Ministry Internship, Rev. Annalee Allen
  • InnovateUMC - Spiritual Leadership and Inclusive Innovation, Cindy Thompson
  • Illinois State University Wesley Leadership Academy and Vocational Ministry Track, Mallory Moore
  • Leadership Academy, Rick Eaton
  • Ministry Discernment Internships, Susan Moudry
  • Missional Entrepreneurship Cohort Program, Jessica Winderweedle
  • Nashville Episcopal Area (Memphis and Tennessee Conference) Calling Retreat for High School Students, Russell Casteel
  • Pastoral Residency Program, Zack Esgar
  • Project Transformation National Expansion to Cultivate Future Clergy, Eric Lindh
  • Project Transformation North Texas Summer of Service Young Adult Program, Alyson Gregory Richter
  • Projecto Futuro: Cultivating New Latinx generations, Cristian De La Rosa
  • Strengthening the Black Church for the Twenty-First Century-National Network of Young Adults, Nathalie Nelson Parker
  • Summer Internship Expansion, Don Woolley
  • Tarleton Wesley Internship Program, David McMinn
  • The College and Church Internship Program, Robert Brewer
  • The Cultivate Initiative, Rev. Dr. Drew Dyson
  • The Tobias Gibson Internship Program, Paige Swaim-Presley
  • Timothy Circle, Steve Wilke
  • Undergraduate Internships and small group leadership, Cara Stultz Costello
  • Young Adult Missional Movement, Heidi Aspinwall

For the 2017-2020 quadrennium, grant applications are accepted annually from January to March. Awards are distributed in June, and each recipient will submit three progress reports per year throughout the duration of their project (August, December and April). Both long- and short-range projects are required to submit three reports per year.

GBHEM is working to track and collect analytics on all grants awarded. It takes at least seven years for a young person to go through the process to become ordained clergy, which means analytics for these types of grants can only be collected over the course of many years. The first YCI awards were granted in 2014. 

To learn more about YCI, visit ExploreCalling.org/YCI. More information about GBHEM can be found at GBHEM.org.

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to lead and connect the educational and ministerial life of the church. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.

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