New Ministries Project II

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Wed, 01/01/1992
End Date: 
Sun, 12/31/1995

“New Ministries Project II” invited four middle judicatories in the Midwest United States to test whether the processes for stimulating congregational creativity developed in the original New Ministries Project could be transferred to the relationship between the judicatories and selected congregations within their bounds. Middle judicatories are those denominational structures immediately above the local church such as dioceses, presbyteries, synods, conferences, etc. The four judicatories were: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville (Kentucky); District Two of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (Cincinnati): Indiana Ministries of the Church of God (Indianapolis); and the Presbytery of Ohio Valley (Presbyterian Church USA, Bloomington, Indiana). <p> Each judicatory selected four congregations interested in launching new projects. Congregations submitted three-year ministry proposals and received from the judicatory a $4,000 grant and up to $1,500 in training money. Judicatory contributions came from their own resources and from New Ministries Project II funds. Judicatory staff visited each church twice per year, and congregational representatives and middle judicatory attended two plenary sessions each year to maximize the opportunities for getting acquainted with each other and offering support. <p> The study found that middle judicatories were often able to nurture creative congregational ministry; however, past relations often made that difficult. Several congregations entered the agreement skeptical that their judicatories would offer grant money without enforcing denominational priorities on them. Overall, the study found that: (1) the independent nature of today’s congregation meant changes in the traditional role of denominations as creator of programs and services though this did not mean the end of denominational life; (2) grant money, though welcome, served largely as an outside confirmation of a program’s worth rather than as a needed financial boost; and (3) congregations did not look to the denomination for money or ideas as much as for connections to the wider Christian world and for a sense of family. The study urged that congregations and middle judicatories forge a new partnership focused on the needs of congregations. <p> Project II was extended one year beyond its original three-year design in order to allocate to each middle judicatory $10,000 to be used as grants to congregations who wished to launch a new ministry. Additional observations and visits during the year led Carl Smith to observe a sense of partnership existing between the local churches and the middle judicatories.