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Grants support new era of evangelism

A Marge Christie Fund grant helped make possible this new A/V equipment at St. Stephen's, Millburn. PAULA TOLAND PHOTO
The Rev. Diana L. Wilcox
A Marge Christie Fund grant helped make possible this new A/V equipment at St. Stephen's, Millburn. PAULA TOLAND PHOTO

A year ago, the sight of tripod mounted cameras, laptops, switching panels, and more in the church on a Sunday would have been a rare sight. Now, these technical tools are the gateway to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to a larger community, a new version of our familiar red doors.

Yet audio and video equipment is not inexpensive to obtain, and the increased bandwidth required to leverage them is often costly to install. Diocesan Council saw an opportunity to help the congregations of the diocese cross this technical divide.

At a meeting in the fall of 2020, the Equipping Team, a working group of Diocesan Council, proposed a special grant cycle of the Marge Christie Congregational Growth & Vitality Fund specifically for aiding congregations with these technology purchases. The resolution passed unanimously at the Diocesan Council meeting on October 15, and a call for applications for a special Technology Grant Cycle went out across the diocese.

The Marge Christie Fund was created to provide support to congregational mission and ministry in the diocese, and so it was the perfect match for just this type of assistance to our parishes. The Rev. Deacon Ken Boccino, chair of the board that reviews grant applications for this fund, noted, “These grants for technology support truly live into the fund's purpose by assisting parish families to connect and draw strength from one another during these difficult times.”

Thirty-seven churches applied and were rewarded grants totaling $40,200, to offset the costs of audio and video purchases made since the pandemic, or planned in the months ahead.

“With a $1991.28 technology grant, the Marge Christie Fund helped to transform the worship experience at St. Stephen's Church in Millburn,” said the Rev. Paula Toland. “It enabled us to do more than we could have on our own. We went from recording our services on an iPhone, with some obviously amateur editing to ready it for posting on You Tube and Facebook, and additional editing to ready it for local cable access television, a process that took literally hours, to a professional quality live stream on Sunday mornings with just another hour to ready it for the local cable station. It has almost eliminated the anxiety about technical glitches and freed the worship leaders to fully engage in the worship. More importantly, when you join us for worship online, you have a real sense of who we are and how we worship, which is one of the ways we live our faith.”

Diocesan Council and the members of the Marge Christie Growth & Vitality Fund Board were pleased to see such a great response to this program and hope that it strengthens our parishes in their efforts to spread the good news of Jesus Christ far and wide. Congregations who were not able to take advantage in this cycle, may still apply for funds as part of future grant cycles. To learn more about the Marge Christie Fund, or to donate, click here.

Diocesan Council is one of the three governing bodies of the diocese, and serves as the “Convention between Conventions,” responsible for program and mission of the diocese. Council also has oversight over the diocesan budget, and the grant and loan programs. They meet on the second Wednesday of the month, and members are clergy and lay elected at Diocesan Convention.

The Rev. Diana L. Wilcox is Vice-President of Diocesan Council.