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Grants Awarded to 21 Projects Aimed at Increasing Young Clergy in the United Methodist Church

August 20, 2018

As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) has selected 21 grant recipients for the Young Clergy Initiative (YCI). The grants are awarded annually to programs focused on increasing the number of young clergy in The United Methodist Church by helping young people listen for, discern and respond to God’s call to ordained ministry.

“There’s not a shortage of call in the church. Instead of waiting on youth to tell us they think they’re called to ordained leadership, we need to be proactively helping youth and young adults discern who God has created them to be and where God is calling them to lead,” said Rev. Dr. Trip Lowery, director of young adult ministry discernment and enlistment at GBHEM. “The Young Clergy Initiative supports the work of leaders who are engaging youth and young adults in effective, innovative and experimental ways so we can share what’s being learned in one context with leaders doing work across the connection.”

Each year grant applications are accepted from January to March and awards are distributed in the summer. Award amounts and recipients are decided by a fund distribution committee from the GBHEM Board of Directors. This year, grants have been awarded in varying amounts based on project scope, with some being awarded over the period of several years for ongoing projects.

 All YCI grant recipients formed partnerships with churches, annual conferences, other United Methodist institutions or individuals to work on the projects.

2018 Grant Recipients:

  • 21st Century Collegiate Ministry Values and Practices: Discern, Design, Develop, and Deploy; project director, Rimes McElveen (Western North Carolina Annual Conference)*
  • Called Out – Set Apart; project director, Rev. Darin Arntson (California-Pacific Annual Conference)
  • College Connection Retreat; project director, Rev. Nick Jeffries (North Carolina Annual Conference)
  • Covenant Group; project director, Quinten Lochmann (North Alabama Annual Conference)
  • Elijah Collective; project director, Rev. Dr. Brian T. Parcel (California-Pacific Annual Conference)
  • EncounterMICall 2.0; project director, Rev. Paul Perez (Detroit Annual Conference)*
  • Engage: Emory & Henry College; project director, Mary K. Briggs (Holston Annual Conference)
  • Faith and Leadership Experience; project director, Stephen Cheyney (Western North Carolina Annual Conference)
  • GPS – God Powered Search; project director, Dawn Livingston (Western North Carolina Annual Conference)
  • Holy Land Discernment Pilgrimage; project director, Rev. Mike Ratliff (Discipleship Ministries)
  • Ministry as a Career; project director, Chris Wilterdink (Discipleship Ministries)
  • Ministry Internships at Simpson College; project director, Mara Bailey (Iowa Annual Conference)
  • Ministry on the Mountain; project director, Rev. Edward Simmons (Tennessee Annual Conference)
  • Multiplication Project; project director, Jason McAnally (Tennessee Annual Conference)
  • Nexus Seminarians Summit; project director, Tarah Lee (Virginia Annual Conference)
  • Open Space – Inland Empire Young Adult Leadership Development; project director, Rev. Blair Trygstad Stowe (California-Pacific Annual Conference)
  • Strengthening the Black Church for the Twenty-First Century – National Network of Young Adults; project director, Nathalie Nelson Parker (Tennessee Annual Conference)*
  • Texas State UCM Peer Discernment Ministry Internship; project director, Rev. Todd Salmi (Rio Texas Annual Conference)
  • The Tobias Gibson Internship Project; project director, Chris McAlilly (Mississippi Annual Conference)*
  • Trailblazing; project director, Wendy Mohler-Seib (Great Plains Annual Conference)
  • United Methodist Skunkworks (QuadW Missional Outreach); project director, Don Woolley (Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference)*

* Received YCI funds in 2017

“We’re noticing many effective experiences are engaging youth earlier in the discernment process than we’ve historically seen. Youth are thinking about their call and purpose as early as elementary school. We need to begin the vocation conversation early,” added Lowery. “Affirming the gifts we see in children, youth, and young adults is another simple way we can help them discern who they are called and gifted to be. Many of the YCI experiences are finding creative ways to intentionally affirm where leaders see God moving in the lives of those around them.”

Establishing the Initiative

YCI was established at the 2012 General Conference as a $7 million fund and 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 quadrennium, 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 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.

Tracking New Church Leaders

Each recipient submits three progress reports per year throughout the duration of its project (August, December, and April) to help track analytics on all grants awarded. The first YCI grants were awarded in 2014.

To learn more about YCI, current projects, and findings, visit More information about GBHEM can be found at

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development, and spiritual formation. 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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