Pivot Led to Powerful New Ministries at Church of the Disciple

Summer fun at Church of the Disciple

DeSoto church uses Ministry With grant in creative new ways

Church of the Disciple UMC in DeSoto could teach a masterclass in flexibility and resilience. As a Spring 2022 Ministry With grant recipient, Rev. Bryant Phelps and church leaders had intended to offer summer camps through a partnership with the local YMCA. When that partnership didn’t pan out and Summer Tings could not be realized in the way they imagined, Phelps and his team began to consider how else they might be in ministry with the children and youth of their community. The pivot led to even greater opportunities.

“We prioritized the funds in keeping with our commitment to education,” Phelps said. “At that time, the state of education in DeSoto ISD was questionable. The nature of our care with our adopted campus changed because the district made our campus PreK through 3rd grade and moved 4th and 5th graders to another campus. So, we focused our efforts on coming alongside some of the work that the school was doing, whether that was school supplies or uniforms or even teacher support. The resources were drying up in the district and teacher morale was at a low. So, it was imperative for us to reimagine those dollars and figure out how to best be in ministry with our neighbors.”

Ministry With grants are for new efforts or efforts that expand existing ministries with particular emphasis on ministry with our neighbors. The North Texas Conference Center for Missional Outreach has identified these core “ministry with” values:

  • Come alongside neighbors in a spirit of friendship and mutuality. Listen to and learn from them.
  • Build long-term relationships with neighbors.
  • Uncover the often-undervalued gifts, talents, dreams, desires and connections of neighbors.
  • Adopt the iron rule: never do for others what they can do for themselves.
  • Embody and demonstrate racial equity and anti-racism.
  • Address the systems that perpetuate suffering and inequity rather than only deal with the symptoms of our broken world.
  • Use a strengths-based approach that leverages the gifts and relationships of local partners.

For Church of the Disciple, Phelps underscores that “Ministry With” has been in their DNA from the beginning, and they strive to live out those values in how they are in relationship with their community.

“We’re really living into the commitment that God has called us to – to preach good news to the poor, set at liberty those who are oppressed. We take that seriously here. So, while Summer Tings didn’t really manifest the way we desired it to, we were able to stretch some things out and reimagine some things. The work of last summer is still at work and has just worked differently.”

Through their Ministry With grant, Church of the Disciple has been able to not only deepen their connection to their adopted public elementary school, but also expand support for Tapestry Ministries, a youth-focused nonprofit housed in the church. “Recently there were 50 teenagers here for a youth retreat discussing issues ranging from faith to sex education,” Phelps recalls.

Church of the Disciple has more community partnerships now than ever before, spanning a large radius – from North Dallas Shared Ministries, to others in Oak Cliff and down to Ellis County, where some of their members reside.

Phelps emphasized: “‘Ministry With’ to us means not reinventing the wheel. It’s participating in what God has called us to with the partners that are doing that work as well.”

The fall Ministry With grant cycle is open September 15 through October 15. Interested applicants are encouraged to attend an upcoming webinar to learn the key components of a winning application and get feedback for their proposed projects. Zoom webinar options are Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m. and Aug. 31 at 1 p.m.

Ministry With grants

Published: Tuesday, August 8, 2023