News and Views

Missional Innovation Grants support creative discipleship

Posted by Guest Author on

From The BWC's Connectional Ministries Staff

In a dramatically new way of pursuing God’s kingdom, the Baltimore-Washington Conference has issued its inaugural batch of $39,600 in Missional Innovation Grants to 10 recipients.

The grants recognize that discipleship often has the most impact when it is done at a local church level, with people living out their faith assisting people in their communities. The conference seeks to support these efforts by enabling creative and vital expressions of God’s love as it inspires and enables discipleship.

These annual awards were given by the Interim Discipleship Agency Boards in the areas of Advocacy and Justice, Abundant Health, and Young People’s Ministries.

Money for the financial assistance was provided by grants received by the Conference from a variety of sources and mission shares contributed by local churches. For more information, visit

Here are this year's recipients:

The BWC's Abundant Health Board is pleased to support four vital ministries in the amount of $10,000.

Care Pack Ministry - $3,000
Union Chapel UMC
Sophia Didawick

Sophia Didawick is a high-school senior in Morgan County, W.Va. The Care Pack Ministry was born during her sophomore year when she discovered that essential hygiene items were not available to a close friend. Sophia quickly stepped into action and supplied her friend with these items, as well as helping hundreds of other students living below the poverty line in Morgan County. Today, Sophia packs and distributes over 175 care packs each month. Every care pack contains a bar of soap, body wash, hand soap, a bath sponge, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouth wash.

(Sophia Didawick also received $5,000 from Young People's Ministry for this bold outreach.)

Save the Sanctuary - $2,500
Ames UMC
Marlon Tilghman

Ames UMC of Bel Air has had a Save the Sanctuary Program since 2015.

Developed in response to statistics showing that obesity, lack of physical activity, and unhealthy nutrition were the most direct causes of health concerns affecting the minority communities of Harford County, Save the Sanctuary was designed to inform and make pastors healthier, thus, inspiring their congregations and communities to do the same.

Save the Sanctuary provides participants with a tote containing all of the materials a pastor or lay person may need to introduce, implement, and sustain a health and wellness ministry within their local church.

The program additionally seeks to dispel the myths surrounding food, fitness, and faith, while providing spiritual and biblical principles of healthy living for disciples of Jesus Christ.

Our Journey of Hope - $1,500
Macedonia UMC
Cynthia Gipson

The Health and Welfare Ministry at Macedonia United Methodist Church in Annapolis has made a commitment to begin Our Journey of Hope — a training program offered through the Cancer Treatment Center of Philadelphia. The program will train lay members on how to attend to the spiritual, emotional, physical, and social needs of patients, caregivers, family, friends, and others impacted by cancer. Once trained, each member of the Macedonia UMC Health and Welfare Ministry will minister to at least one person in the community impacted by cancer by the end of 2019.

Fully Alive - $3,000
Petworth UMC
Valeria Stevens

Fully Alive is a community ministry sponsored by Petworth UMC in Washington, D.C. The program offers holistic, multi-level, physical, mental, and spiritual health engagement opportunities for everyday men and women trying to make ends meet within our busy culture.

Fully Alive seeks to offer a place of solace and support to those who feel tired and isolated, and those who may currently see the church as disconnected with today's reality.

Through a spiritual lens, the program will allow people to "look at their bodies differently and to know they have a faith community that can support them in becoming strong temples with enough energy to serve in greater capacities in the world."

Fully Alive will include a gifts inventory, Bible studies relevant to issues specific to today's working adult, and various workshops on topics such as financial health, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and recognizing and advocating for changing unhealthy relationships, as well as resources on QPR suicide prevention and human trafficking awareness.


The BWC's Advocacy and Action Network is pleased to award $10,475 to three outstanding ministries.

Project Transformation - $5,000
Project Transformation, D.C.
Rachel Luna

Project Transformation's mission was honored for its ongoing commitment to enhancing youth literacy and academic excellence in Washington, D.C. (See a description under the Young People's Ministry, below, which also awarded Project Transformation $5,000.)

Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries (CJAMM) - $4,975
Pat Marks

CJAMM is an initiative of the BWC where people of faith come together to improve the criminal justice system in Maryland and the District of Columbia. CJAMM initiatives are designed to foster congregations and their member's spiritual focus of mercy and compassion for all persons involved in the criminal justice system, including: families; victims; those incarcerated; returning citizens (people who have been incarcerated); and those who work within the criminal justice system, including law enforcement and court officials.

Cultural Competency Training - $500
Wesley Freedom UMC
Elizabeth LeMaster

Wesley Freedom UMC’s Family Resource Center has partnered with Johanna Dolan, Director of Innovation, Strategy and Development for Axiom Sober Coaches, to host a Train the Trainer Cultural Competency Training.

Training module topics include LGBT elders, HIV, LGBT youth, trans health, race, and violence. The training covers adult learning and theories of change.

While sharing the facts is important, a specific goal of this training is to help change attitudes and behaviors so that LGBT clients will have a different and better experience when they engage with social service and other programs in our community.

Their efforts to love all, provide safe spaces and create new forms of community will encourage people to develop to their fullest potential.


Young People’s Ministry is pleased to support five innovative ministries with $19,125.

Care Pack Ministry - $5,000
Sophia Didawick
Union Chapel UMC

Sophia Didawick is a high-school senior in Morgan County, W.Va. who assembles and distributes 175 care packages for her peers each month. (See more about her in the section on the Action and Advocacy Network above, which also awarded her $3,000.)

LeadHer Ministry for Young Women - $1,000
LeadHer Ministry
Bonnie McCubbin

LeadHer Ministry for Young Women is a program seeking to help young women hone their leadership skills and meet women who are leading in their fields, from church, politics, academics, business, and beyond, so that they can build up networks of professional women as mentors, friends, and colleagues to become the leaders of today and tomorrow the church and the world so desperately need. Beginning with a week-long summer camp for girls entering 7-12th grade in 2018, the ministry is seeking to expand to include girls in 5-12th grade in 2019 and adding additional quarterly events.

Voices in Praise Youth Choir Summer Camp - $5,875
Voices in Praise, Inc.

Voices In Praise will offer a four-day summer camp for youth choirs and their directors, with the goal of inspiring attendees and equipping them with the tools necessary for building, operating, and sustaining modern youth choir programs. Despite the overwhelming benefits of youth choirs, few resources exist to create, sustain, and support choirs and choir directors. This camp hopes to inspire the next wave of choir directors and usher in a new era for youth choirs within the Baltimore-Washington Conference.

Project Transformation - $5,000
Rachel Luna

Project Transformation D.C.'s mission is to engage young adults in purposeful leadership and ministry while providing support to children in holistic development and connecting churches with communities. Their unique model of partnering with local churches and hiring young adults to serve the children in the communities while also learning essential leadership skills is a perfect match for the goals of the Young People's Ministry Board. They are pleased to support Project Transformation DC with $5,000 as they continue to connect churches and communities in DC and engage young adults during a crucial stage of their lives.

Baltimore-Suburban District Youth Ministry - $2,250
Susan Harry

The District Youth Coordinators of the Baltimore-Suburban District (Susan Harry and Bill Jones) continue to seek ways to connect youth workers and youth themselves across the district for the sharing of resources and opportunities for fellowship across churches.

This grant will allow them to organize a district-wide youth event so that youth and youth workers can connect in a time of fellowship as well as provide physical resources for youth workers across the district.