×

News and Press Releases

LILA

Wesleyan Investive Awards $200,000 to Spiritual Entrepreneurs

Four Innovative Leaders to be Honored at a Virtual Event on Sunday, May 22

AUSTIN, March, 28, 2022 – Wesleyan Investive is honored to announce the recipients of its 2022 class of the Tom Locke Innovative Leader Award. Working in fields as diverse as racial reconciliation, domestic violence, faith-based social entrepreneurship, and community building, they are explorers and pioneers at the cutting edge of spiritual entrepreneurship. Through this award, Wesleyan Investive recognizes leaders who exemplify innovative spiritual leadership and missionally driven entrepreneurship across the Wesleyan ecosystem of the spiritual landscape for the sake of reaching more people and moving closer to the world God intends.

Recipients of the Locke Innovative Leader Award are invited to join past recipients in a facilitated cohort to support and network with each other and the growing community of spiritual entrepreneurs across the mixed ecology of churches and faith traditions. Additionally, they each receive $50,000, to be used at their discretion, to further steward their growing leadership and innovative potential. To date, the Wesleyan Investive has invested over $500,000 in Locke Leaders and their cohort experience.

Each honoree will be celebrated at a virtual event on Sunday, May 22 at 5 pm CT / 6 pm ET. Additional event details can be found at award.wesleyaninvestive.org.

“This group of Innovative Leaders, along with the five inaugural leaders named last year, reflects the tremendous breadth of creativity among us when it comes to fulfilling the purpose of the church,” said Tom Locke, Wesleyan Investive president. “They are explorers and risk takers, contributing to their fields, to society, and to the church in innovative, impactful ways because they are not content to maintain the status quo. This is exactly the kind of leadership we are investing in, rewarding, encouraging, and cultivating at Wesleyan Investive.”

Building on the Wesleyan Investive’s fifty-three-year legacy of supporting local churches and leaders in changing the landscape, the Investive believes the church is called to strengthen its witness through traditional congregations and through innovative faith communities and other efforts to further the Gospel. This mixed ecology of the church’s witness requires a diversity of leaders, particularly those with an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to see beyond existing practices and models. The Award seeks to embolden this entrepreneurial spirit, increase innovations in the ecosystem and foster the courage to try new things and learn.

“This award is meant to honor the work these leaders have done, but also empower them to grow,” said Roland Fernandes, Wesleyan Investive board chair and general secretary of United Methodist Global Ministries. “It is the intention that participating in the cohort will give the recipients a chance to connect with each other to help grow and scale their efforts. And while a ‘no strings attached’ monetary award may seem unconventional, we know that this money can provide these leaders some breathing space, freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, and explore. An investment in them as leaders is also an investment in their communities.”

The award is named after Wesleyan Investive President Tom Locke who holds a strong belief that investment in bold, enterprising leaders with inventive approaches to ministry not only advances the church and brings the Gospel to more people but creates flourishing communities.

2022 Tom Locke Innovative Leader Award Recipients:

David M. Bailey, Founder & Chief Vision Officer, Arrabon – Richmond, Va.

Bailey is a public theologian and culture-maker focused on building reconciling communities. He founded nonprofit Arrabon in 2008 with the goal to cultivate Christian communities to pursue healing and reconciliation in a racially divided world through spiritual formation and cultural training. His organization works with churches to better understand the cultures in their own cities and neighborhoods, and collaborate with them to create a church experience that reflects the economic and ethnic diversity of the community the church serves.

Kit Evans-Ford, Founder, Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope - Davenport, Iowa

Evans-Ford is the founder of Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope, a bath and body social enterprise that employs female survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence. She is a trainer and activist working in the areas of nonviolence education and healing from abuse. She holds a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Direction and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Theology at St. Ambrose University. Dr. Kit is the author of 101 Testimonies of Hope: Life Stories to Encourage Your Faith In God and A Children's Book on Bishop Richard Allen: A Nonviolent Journey.

Coté Soerens, Co-Founder, Cultivate South Park and Co-Owner, Resistencia Coffee - Seattle, Wash.


Soerens is a visionary convener, concentrated on identifying and connecting local gifts for the betterment of the community-at-large. She co-founded Cultivate South Park, a resident-lead Asset-Based Community Development organization, and co-founded Resistencia Coffee, a neighborhood coffee shop that serves as a community hub, encouraging fellowship and innovation to create a more equitable neighborhood. Alongside a core team of residents, Soerens strives to realize God’s dreams for the neighborhood through love and joy as they create innovative solutions in food, environmental, housing, and economic justice.

Shannon Hopkins, Co-Founder & Lead Cultivator, Rooted Good – London, United Kingdom


Shannon Hopkins is a networker and social entrepreneur whose passion for community and individual transformation has launched or influenced the formation of fifteen campaigns, projects, and organizations — and trained over 200 social entrepreneurs. She co-founded, RootedGood so that organizations could align their ecclesiastical imagination or faith-based innovation with an economic model that would allow for sustainability and resilience. The result is empowering faith-based organizations to reclaim their relevance and be the church the world needs today.


About Wesleyan Investive:

Wesleyan Investive is a national nonprofit that invests in congregations, leaders, and missionally driven innovation while catalyzing good works within communities. Over the course of its 50 plus-year history, Wesleyan Investive has made over 2,000 loans totaling more than $500 million, encouraging churches across the United States to pursue their God-sized dreams. The work is made possible through partnerships with impact-focused investors and Methodist foundations across the country. Based in Austin, Texas, the organization is led by President Tom Locke, who is also the President of TMF.


About TMF:

Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the Church to achieve its God-appointed mission, and living our values of servanthood, integrity, and competence. TMF is the largest United Methodist foundation in the country offering assistance to United Methodists through investments, loans, grants, leadership platforms, gift planning, and endowment services. TMF serves the six United Methodist conferences throughout Texas and New Mexico. TMF is based in Austin, Texas. To learn more, please visit tmf-fdn.org.