BFIA grants support Gun Buy Back Program, Blessing Box, and more projects at eight Church of the Brethren congregations

The Brethren Faith in Action Fund (BFIA) has aided eight Church of the Brethren congregations with its latest round of grants, including a grant of $5,000 for a Gun Buy Back Program of Spirit of Peace Church in partnership with a local municipal program administered by the state police. The fund provides grants using money generated by the sale of the upper campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

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Spirit of Peace Church of the Brethren in East Lansing, Mich., received $5,000 for its Gun Buy Back Program, held in partnership with a local municipal Gun Buy Back administered by the state police. The event took place Oct. 7. Participation in the Gun Buy Back is an extension of the church’s witness to promote awareness of gun violence after the community experienced the trauma of a mass shooting at the Michigan State University campus in February. Spirit of Peace worships in a chapel directly across the street from MSU. A group in the church, Plant Justice Grow Peace, is committed to actively supporting nonviolence in the community by showing up in front of the State Capitol wearing orange shirts, carrying signs with messages like “Support Kids, Not Guns,” and networking with other local peace groups. The grant was used to purchase guns and rifles that law enforcement then destroyed.

A gun violence vigil by members of Spirit of Peace Church of the Brethren in East Lansing, Mich.

Please pray… For the congregations receiving these grants, and for all the people who will be aided and reached by these congregational projects.

Myerstown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has received $5,000 to continue the church’s upgrade of visual technology to enhance its community outreach ministry. Replacing projectors in the facility has become necessary to offer the best experience for people who join the live worship events. The church’s goal is to provide further outreach to its community through the development of live events. Events are planned throughout the year. Invitations will be sent to all churches and organizations in the Lebanon area and printed materials will be placed in local businesses and newspapers.

Williamson Road Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., received $5,000 for its Blessing Box project. The church began the ministry about two years ago. The neighborhood surrounding the church has increasingly struggled with economic needs, with many families experiencing food insecurity. The Blessing Box has been a way for families with temporary needs for food and other essentials to receive help while preserving their fundamental dignity. The Blessing Box provides nonperishable food, toiletries, and winter clothing. Church members donate items and make monetary donations to support the ministry.

Circle of Peace Church of the Brethren in Peoria, Ariz., received $5,000 to support multiple community outreach projects including sending direct mail to newcomers in the area of Maricopa County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the US; a Back to School Bash and Trunk-or-Treat event; visitor gift bags for first-timers in worship; and professional website development to enhance the church’s online presence. Circle of Peace is working with a company to secure a Google Ads grant, which because of its nonprofit status could result in $120,000 per year in free digital ad money to help boost web traffic.

Glendale (Calif.) Church of the Brethren received $4,304.82 to support multiple community outreach projects including hosting year-round community events such as spring and fall festivals, monthly meals, concerts, and a monthly meal for a local shelter. The church has an event coordinator and social media administrator ready to work on the events. In addition, several volunteer cooks are prepared to organize meals for Ascencia, the local homeless shelter.

Lanark (Ill.) Church of the Brethren has received $1,600.80 to host a series of family movie nights at the church. The church showed the Chosen Series on Sunday evenings this spring and invited the community for the movies and a time to fellowship and have discussion over snacks. The church planned a follow up series on its lawn on Wednesday evenings in July and August, with Sunday morning messages based on the faith lessons in various family-friendly movies. Grant funds purchased a backyard theater kit, video license, movie fees, promotional materials, popcorn machine, and snacks.

Roaring Spring (Pa.) Church of the Brethren received $1,000 to strengthen its Wednesday evening ministry for children and families. The Recharge Program is scheduled on Wednesday evenings through the school year. Church volunteers prepare meals and teach children, youth, and adults, as well as help with crafts and music and do clean-up. In the two years of its existence, community members, including some from the day care center housed in the church during the week, have become regular attendees. The adult Bible study which also is offered online is attended by a sizable group of shut-ins and others who cannot physically travel to the church.

Eel River Community Church of the Brethren in Silver Lake, Ind., received $480.24 for two Day of Caring projects in which church volunteers help with small repairs and yard cleanup for neighbors. Church members often volunteer with Brethren Disaster Ministries and feel the Day of Caring events are a local opportunity. Dates are Sept. 23, 2023, and May 24, 2024. The Kosciusko County HUD office will provide referrals of residents needing help. Grant funds will pay for materials for the repairs, rental of tools, promotional flyers, professional construction or repair services (if needed), and volunteer lunches.


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