November 16, 2020
TMF has established itself as an edge organization that empowers leaders to think in creative ways, inviting clergy into conversations that will nurture innovations in the church and expand their imagination for what is possible. Those conversations and connections take shape in Leadership Ministry, while funding opportunities through Grants Ministry ensures creative ideas that serve vulnerable populations have a chance to thrive.
At Bering UMC their missions set the tone for their life as a congregation. Their creative conversations and innovative mindset have spurred outreach to immigrants, services to the AIDS community, ministries for young adults who are homeless, summer programs for students, and more. When the pandemic hit, leaders at Bering UMC knew their creative ministries had to continue.
“TMF is forward-thinking in their approach to learning and enabling the church. Moreover, TMF helps fund that forward-thinking. There are a lot of new challenges with the pandemic. They have to be addressed, but we didn’t anticipate new funding. When TMF stepped up, it enabled nonprofits to address significant needs that seemed to come out of nowhere,” Senior Pastor Diane McGehee shared.
TMF funded two grants for Bering UMC from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to assist with their ministries. “Some of our ministries were easy to shift online,” Diane said. “However, others were more difficult and that is where TMF’s funding was so beneficial. For instance, immigration has essentially stopped processing people during the pandemic, so families were struggling to stay in their housing and keep utilities on. We raised $15,000 during our Easter offering and TMF granted us $10,000 to help 50 families stay housed and have basic necessities. Those funds kept families safe during this crisis.”
Additionally, Bering UMC used a second grant from TMF to hire teachers, who needed work, for their summer program. With some creative thinking, they safeguarded their students from a learning gap by offering their STEM program Play-Learn virtually. What had originally used a hands-on boardgame approach shifted to online games with STEM objectives. They found keyboards that would plug into phones and other needed equipment, distributed it to the students who needed the technology to participate, and engaged students in playful education techniques. Their team had to make this shift quickly, so they learned how to create in-person and virtual gaming programs to help their students.
Leveraging their creativity didn’t end with these ministries, either. They moved Bible studies online, continued to interact with the homeless population, and feed 350 families every Friday, keeping people safe with appropriate PPE and social distancing measures. Much of their congregational life has changed in order to navigate the pandemic, but the heart of their missions have not changed at all.
“The pandemic has helped us rethink how to do ministry in challenging times,” Diane noted. “During these extraordinary circumstances, we reached beyond the people we normally serve, because the need was so great. We had the resources to do a lot of that work, because of TMF’s funding and forward-thinking approach.”