Legacy Fund applications due Sept. 15, 2016

July 20, 2016
Submitted by the Rev. Dr. C. Dennis Shaw
Legacy Fund Standing Committee Convener

The Legacy Fund was created by the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference action in order to provide “critical funding for projects and encourage ministries that will make a difference and enhance vital congregation.” The Legacy Fund is sustained by the sale of closed churches.

Grants are reviewed regularly by the Legacy Fund Standing Committee and their recommendations are acted upon by the Conference Trustees. It is the committee’s specific strategy to have two windows a year: Jan. 1 to March 15 and July 1 to Sept. 15 with reviews and approvals following that for resourcing by July 1 and Jan. 1, respectively.

The grant application window is now open and will close on Sept. 15, 2016. The current application form can be downloaded from the Legacy Fund page.   

Key dates for this window are: 
  • July, 2016 – grant application window opens. 
  • Deadline to apply is Sept. 15, 2016. (If you anticipate a brief delay, send Dennis a note. Brief is a couple of days.) We circulate your grants to the committee and they are carefully studied and reviewed in the period between receipt and meeting. 
  • The Legacy Fund Standing Committee (LFSC) will meet in October to review, discuss, and vote. 
  • Trustees will review the LFSC recommendations in November and the Conference Trustees approve or disapprove. 
  • The grants will be announced in November via email to the email address of application origin with funds being dispersed for use no later than Jan. 1, 2017.
The approval ratio is about one approval out of every three applications. From a dollar perspective, the ratio is about one dollar approved for every four dollars in grants requested. We have in the life of this program approved thirty-six grants totaling $1.15M.  The majority of grants approved have been between $30,000 and $60,000. Grants greater than $100,000 really require an extended period of conversation and dialogue with the LFSC and your DS.

Applications that get favorable consideration typically:
  1. Share costs, i.e. the Legacy Fund is asked to cover some, but not all, of the expenses. Total funding by Legacy is extremely rare. There is no precise percentage here and context is important. 
  2. Are focused on a new ministry or a new feature or element of an old one.
  3. Lay out expected outcomes in terms of metrics, i.e. numbers. If the metrics articulated are not traditional vital signs, then what?  Traditional vital signs are worship attendance, baptisms, and professions of faith.  If you don’t use those, lay out what the self-identified metrics will be. But, realistic and attainable metrics of some variety are an imperative.
  4. Are not exclusively focused on needs associated with aging infrastructure (and this includes Americans with Disabilities Act related needs).  Addressing infrastructure as a component of a new ministry is a possibility. Parking lots, air-conditioning, and heaters have consistently not been approved.
  5. Are able to articulate with clarity where the applicant expects to make a difference at their church or in their community. 
Extension ministries within the Rocky Mountain Conference may apply but these five considerations apply. The clear imperative on all grants is what type of difference you expect to make with these mantle-passing resources.

The committee recommended to the Conference Trustees approval for four grants from the January to March 2016 window. The Trustees approved: 
  1. University Park UMC ($45,000 spread over three years) for the Evanston Spiritual Center.
  2. Wilson UMC ($21,543) for Diakonia educational ministry to low-income children.
  3. Whole Church Initiative ($44,000) for congregational revitalization. 
  4. Conference Board of Discipleship ($12,570) for Worship Enhancement Education.
All of these were partial funding within their respective programs. Seven other grants were reviewed and not approved.

Grants that were approved prior to this round have made a difference at local churches. Several of those recipients write:
  • Tri-Lakes UMC: “We talk a lot about wanting to make disciples, but few churches actually have an intentional process by which to do so. We believe that we can be a model, made possible through funding by the Legacy Grant, be a model for how to do this.”  
  • Grand Junction First UMC: “We believe the single greatest difference this ministry made to the congregation is that it served as the catalyst for our church to begin the slow shift of our gaze from ourselves to our neighbors.”
  • Haxtun UMC writes: "Our recycle store, Retread Threads, has fostered a sense of pride within our congregation that we have successfully moved outside the walls of our church in mission with many hands and one Spirit."
Interested churches and ministries are encouraged to be in dialogue with their District Superintendents about Legacy funding.