The Bishop's Grants for Growth Initiative
Earlier this year, Bishop Daniel launched this initiative to serve missions and parishes in the Diocese and offer congregational support by making resources available through Martin Darby. In terms of his approach to congregational development, Darby shared, “I like to focus on the uniqueness of each church and I am keen to recognize and respect that uniqueness in every community. As God created each of the members as a unique mystery, a mystery that has never existed before and never will again, so each church is unique. So often in the church, we have failed to recognize and respect that remarkable quality but instead, we have believed that one size fits all. The handing out of a 3-ring binder or “how to” playbook so often fails. I like to build on the extraordinary gifts and talents already present.”
Good Shepherd, Greer was an early recipient of an award from “Grants for Growth.” the Rev. Fergie Horvath commented “Grants for Growth is a ministry created by Bishop Daniel in which a parish vestry has the opportunity to work with a facilitator trained in church growth, at practically no cost to them. The funds that Good Shepherd Greer received from Grants for Growth allowed us to enter into a relationship with the facilitator, Mr. Martin Darby. It is an opportunity that we might not have been able to afford, had it not been for the grant.
At one point in our vestry retreat with Martin, he asked us, “What is the one thing Good Shepherd wants to accomplish this year?” The vestry made a list of these possible accomplishments, but it was clear from the list that the one thing several of our members wanted to accomplish was to make our 1931 church building accessible to people on walkers and in wheelchairs. Martin then walked us through a strategy which helped us to discern our assets and our liabilities. After this exercise, it was clear that we had the assets to accomplish the dream.
Our retreat was in February and as of today, the ramps are finished and the space inside the church has been adjusted. After railings are installed on the ramps, our dream of making the church accessible to all people will be a reality.
The impact that Grants for Growth has had on Good Shepherd, by allowing us to work with Martin Darby, is nothing short of life changing for the entire parish. Although the vestry began this work, Martin now shifts into working with the entire parish in a series of meaningful Christian Formation classes already scheduled in June. The impact continues, and for that, Good Shepherd is genuinely grateful to our Bishop and to Martin for the Grants for Growth program.”
Another early recipient was St. Bartholomew’s, N Augusta. Priest-in-Charge, the Rev. Joseph Shippen observed “the “Grants for Growth” is having a great impact at St. Bartholomew’s in North Augusta through the ministry of Martin Darby. Martin led our Mission Committee retreat in March 2023, which was the first stage of a process that he is facilitating at St. Bart’s. I can say without a doubt that it was the most productive and well-facilitated Mission Committee or Vestry retreat that I have ever been a part of.
The primary focus of our retreat was the Mission Committee’s leadership in the area of stewardship. Martin helped us to see stewardship not only in terms of financial resources, but also in terms of talents, gifts, and values. Through writing our Mission Committee Stewardship Statement, we reoriented our focus from the question of how we would raise funds for the church to the question of what the mission is that God is calling us to. Committed the mission that God has called us to, we affirmed that we can trust that God will provide for that mission.
On April 28th Martin will lead the second stage of the process, a Vision Statement Workshop for the Mission Committee. The last stage of the process will be two spiritual gifts workshops for the whole congregation. We are grateful for the “Grants for Growth”, which have enabled us to grow in our understanding of servant leadership, stewardship, and mission. I can tell that there is already new energy among our church leadership. I anticipate that through this process the Holy Spirit will lead our congregation to live out the gospel in new and exciting ways.”
A number of other churches in the Diocese have scheduled retreats and workshops with Darby in the coming months. More information can be obtained from the Rev. Mary Balfour Dunlap, Chair of the Commission for Congregations
Tags: Stories from EDUSC