A second year Transformation Grant from the PC(USA) will enable Presbytery of Lake Michigan leaders to continue helping congregations adapt to a changing world and be vital, disciple-making groups that make a difference in the wider community.

Presbytery leaders learned in early June that a $22,000 Transformation Grant was awarded through the Mission Program Grants distributed by the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The agency also awarded funds to seven new worshiping communities, including five $10,000 seed grants, a $30,000 investment grant and a $30,000 growth grant.

The presbytery received its initial Transformation Grant in May 2020 for $28,000.

“These grants were, and are, to assist the presbytery in the overall process of transformation,” says Transitional Co-Leader, the Rev. Dr. Cal Bremer. “We want to increase the vitality and impact of our congregations.”

When the presbytery applied for the first Transformation Grant, leaders envisioned a multi-faceted process in which the Vital Congregations Initiative would play a significant, but not exclusive or even dominant, role in the process.

Then the pandemic hit.

Rapid changes occurred in how congregations worshipped, interacted with members, communicated with community leaders, implemented outreach programs and related to their communities.

During the same period, our nation was forced to grapple with multiple deaths of persons from minority cultures. The media attention to the circumstances of these deaths renewed a call for justice and equity.

“Through these changes and related conversations,” Bremer says, “we became much more aware of the racism that has always existed but was often ignored. We continue to become more aware of the systemic effects of racism among us and around us.”

A report submitted earlier this year about how the initial $28,000 grant was used indicated that the presbytery was in the process of discussing racism and systemic oppression and how best to incorporate action on those issues as part of the ongoing transformation of the presbytery and its congregations

“Transformation is a process that continually happens at different levels,” Bremer says.  “Intellectual assent to change may happen at one point while emotional embrace of that change may happen on a different continuum. And there is no end point to the process. There is just the next phase or chapter.”