Grant Initiatives

Myrtle Collaboration

An Initiative to Reclaim the Vocation of Every Child of God supports individuals, congregations, and communities as they discern God's calling for their lives and envision and implement innovative ministries in response.

The Myrtle Collaboration is an Innovation Hub of the Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose Initiative(CLMPI). Initiated in 2017 through the generosity of Lilly Endowment, Inc., congregations, pastors, coaches, and community partners have engaged in deep reflection on individual and collective meaning and purpose, calls and commitments, and vision and vocation.

Nine PC(USA) churches participated in the first cohort of the Myrtle Collaboration.

In the second Myrtle cohort, first cohort pastors Rev. Dr. Felipe N. Martínez (First Presbyterian Church Columbus in Columbus, IN) and Rev. Dr. Kevin Starcher (Covenant Presbyterian Church in Boise, ID) are coordinating faith community partners in their respective local contexts to explore God's call and new ministry opportunities. In Indiana, First Presbyterian Church Columbus, Fairlawn Presbyterian Church, and First Presbyterian Church Bloomington collaborate around the goals of the PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 Initiative to build congregational vitality, dismantle structural racism, and eradicate systemic poverty. In Idaho, Covenant Presbyterian Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, King of Glory Lutheran Church, St. Paul Baptist Church, and Trinity Lutheran Church are forming the Multi-faith Action Project to nurture ministries that build enduring understanding, cooperation, and friendship in the Treasure Valley.

Program Director:

Kathryn House

Myrtle Collaboration Updates:

It has been an exciting few months for the Myrtle Collaboration. Over the next three days, we will share some program highlights and pictures and to give you a glimpse of our work to come.

Program Director Kathryn House enjoyed visiting congregations from both the first and second cohorts of the Myrtle Collaboration. It is a gift to reflect on how churches have continued to develop and expand projects, or how projects are launching.

She attended the 125th anniversary celebration for Grace Hope Presbyterian Church (Louisville, KY). Grace Hope was a part of the first cohort of the Myrtle Collaboration, and their project focused on working with youth.

On April 23, Kathryn visited Oxford Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Oxford, OH for a Myrtle Collaboration Celebration. “Called to Life” is the initiative formed out of the congregation’s rich discernment process. Their work over the past few years has focused on Caring for Creation and Eradicating Systemic Poverty. Watch Pastor Lawrence Bartel’s “Monday Meditation” explaining the “Called to Life” initiative.

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A conversational sermon

During the service, Rev. Barton and Jenny Bailey engaged in a conversational style sermon about her leadership in “Called to Life” and the profound impact of the initiative.

Following service, a group of 20 folks gathered for lunch and a guided discussion on the impact of “Called to Life” on the congregation and community. It was a gift to hear about the intentionality and truly collaborative discernment that took place in the congregation, as well as the very thoughtful ways they are bringing their expertise and commitment to their local community.

On April 29, Kathryn visited Trinity Presbyterian Church in Harrisonburg, VA. Their project focused on enhancements and programming for the Centering Space. As they explain about the Centering Space, “Storms still roll over the waters of our lives from time to time. Chaos still frays at our edges. In such times it can be helpful to seek a safe harbor for a time. Centering Space offers several spaces and places to gently retreat into our souls and into the love of God.”

From offerings such as workshops, retreats, book studies, and yoga classes, to the meditative space of the Harbor Room, the Centering Space is a place of “hospitality and refuge” in Harrisonburg. In 2022, the group offered in-person yoga classes, a hybrid contemplative book study, a Lenten meditation walk through the labyrinth, and both a presentation and discussion of the War in Ukraine and expression stations.

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Dr. House attended a prayerful art retreat utilizing weaving as one of the oldest techniques in textiles and incorporating story, scripture, and meditation on connecting with God.

Prayerful art retreat Prayerful art retreat textile

Dr. House also enjoyed dinner with leaders who have been involved in the Myrtle Collaboration and Centering Space programming [below]. She also spoke at the Sunday morning service.

Myrtle Collaboration Dinner Myrtle Collaboration Dinner Welcome

On May 7, Dr. House attended the Laws Lecture at Myrtle Collaboration congregation First Presbyterian Church Columbus in Columbus, IN. Rev. Adam Taylor, Executive Director of Sojourners.

In May, the Multi-faith Action Project held their first collaborative event to celebrate their kick off in Boise. Dr. House and Coach Jennifer Wilson traveled to Boise to support a week of filming with leaders of the Multi-faith Action Project. Josh Minogue of Blair Dog productions. Minogue is creating a film to capture the story of MAP’s formation and mission and purpose in Boise.

The Multi-faith Action Project (MAP) in Boise, ID is an initiative forged in 2020 by faith leaders from different Christian traditions who wanted to build relationships with one another and one another’s faith communities better in Boise, ID. Grounded in a desire to center racial justice and transformative action in Boise, leaders from Christian traditions including Baptist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, ELCA, and PC(USA) began meeting to discern how they might be called to collective and collaborative partnerships in Boise. With support from the Myrtle Collaboration, leaders pursued opportunities to better understand one another and what common callings might emerge in discussions. Through vulnerable conversations, memorable shared meals, and the discernment of a common desire for collaboration, MAP leaders discerned a common vision for their group in 2022:

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“The Multi-Faith Action Project (MAP) exists to meaningfully change the Treasure Valley by bringing faith groups and other community members together to help our most vulnerable, disadvantaged, and at-risk neighbors in building healthy, stable, and rewarding lives. In the process we unite to build understanding, cooperation, and friendship. Our goal is to truly love our neighbors.”

In 2023, MAP solidified a partnership with St. Paul Family Life and Education Center and celebrated their launch in the community with a luncheon with over 150 in attendance from a wide variety of civic, non-profit, and ecclesial backgrounds. This September they will prepare 100,000 meals with members of their congregations and new potential partners.

YouTube links to MAP launch:

6pm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MQ75Nzm34Q&ab_channel=KTVB

Google Drive of media links:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hqknL2wNSCVSUK5zYugjr5Itf7VMFgXw/view?usp=drivesdk

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Tmn9862Y6ZkJyo19BUMlWYOKFW50VHsb/view?usp=drivesdk

In June, Dr. House presented at the annual College Theology Society and NABPR Region-at-Large meeting on her research as part of the national Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose Initiative research team. Her paper “Mediating: Exploring Intersections of Calling and Technology in the Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose Initiative,” explored how congregations from different Innovation Hubs integrated technology to inspire creation, facilitate connection, and ground calling during the grant initiative. She also attended the Sunday morning worship service at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens and looks forward to connecting with the congregation further this fall on how their project “Vulnerable to Victorious: A Healing Journey!” continues to impact the congregation.

This October, twenty participants from first and second cohort Myrtle Collaboration congregations will gather in Waco, TX at Baylor University for the “Called Together in an Age of Discord,” sponsored by Baylor University’s Institute for Faith and Culture. We will also host a final virtual closing this winter.

Leaders from the Myrtle Collaboration had a wonderful time at the Called Together in an Age of Discord conference at Baylor University in October. Participants were a part of four panels, including "Called to Boise: A Conversation with the Multi-Faith Action Project," "Called to Connection: Technology, Community, and Calling in the Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose Initiative," "Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose: Calling at the Intersection of Community, Leadership, Technology, and the Pandemic," and "Vulnerable to Victorious: A Journey from Anxiety to Wellness." Project Director Kathryn House shared the following: "As part of the Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose Initiative, Myrtle Collaboration partners discerned and implemented innovative projects in their communities and congregations. It was a gift to join with hundreds of others from across the United States to reflect more deeply on how we are called to creative, compassionate, and transformative work together in this contemporary moment.

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Nehemiah Project

The Black Church Studies program at LPTS is the chief agent for the Nehemiah Project: Strengthening Historic African American congregations. This project seeks to advance the relationships with participating congregations and denominational leaders through an interactive teaching and learning process that Black Church Studies have fostered over the years.

Strategy:

The multidimensional strategy to engage a network of historic African American congregations in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana will support secure relationships with God, enhance connections with each other, and contribute to the flourishing of their communities and the world. The selected congregations offer their members life-giving, life-sustaining ministry even while being historically under-resourced and under-served.

Program Goals:

  • Engage in research, action, and evaluation of changing social and cultural context that impact congregations and their ministries;
  • Conduct congregational assessments of mission and values; and
  • Explore innovation and risk-taking through new Christians practices, stewardship, and ministry models.

Christian Parenting & Caregiving Program

The focus of the grant awarded in May 2022 is to gather best-practices for passing Christian faith of parents and caregivers to their children. Louisville Seminary was approached for this grant opportunity largely because of the work of Professor Brad Wigger whose many years of focusing his research on children and faith caught the attention of Lilly Endowment, Inc. Read More.


Sun-Walking Fellowship Grant

In December 2022, LPTS was awarded a one million dollar grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. to reimagine youth ministry through the Sun-Walking Fellowship, which is part of the Endowment’s “Strengthening Congregational Ministry with Youth Initiative.” Through this grant, young people will be empowered to use art to express their experiences of and encounters with God in “embodied, experiential and emotional ways.” This grant defines art very broadly to include works created from old scraps of fabric or torn up newspapers, as a play, as music with instruments, or as works made from common materials collected by the community. Read More.


Money Matters 2.0

The Money Matters 2.0 program provides students with knowledge, tools and skills to responsibly manage their personal and business finances. The program is funded by a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc.