Winfield, Kan., July 8, 2021 – Youth and young adults in United Methodist churches in Texas and New Mexico will gain new support from their churches to follow their calls to serve Christ thanks to a Texas Methodist Foundation grant to the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship’s Timothy Circle. The grant application was made in partnership with Perkins School of Theology.
The one-year $60,000 initiative will help Texas and New Mexico congregations find ways to engage persons 14 to 24 years old as they explore their faith and build lifetime discipleship.
TMF invests in churches, outreach ministries, and nonprofits in Texas and New Mexico. In the spring 2021 grant cycle, 47 grants were awarded totaling $1.5 million. Last year, TMF supported an extensive grant cycle to assist nonprofits during the pandemic as they served the most vulnerable.
“The Timothy Circle was established as part of the Institute for Discipleship to help young persons more clearly hear God’s calling and pursue that call,” says Dr. Stephen Wilke, executive director of the institute. “This grant will help establish concrete, practical ways that churches can nurture and support those young persons for a lifetime of meaningful service, in whatever field they pursue.”
The grant will be used to establish free online conversation and learning sessions that address concerns of congregational leaders in serving persons between the ages of 14 and 24. The grant will also fund regional networks between camps, campus ministries, and congregations to provide continuity of care for these young persons.
“We’ve discovered that many of our churches are struggling or have given up on connecting and nurturing young people in their faith,” Wilke explains. “In addition, we’ve seen a lack of coordination between the three major ministry branches that interact with Christian disciples between the ages of 14 and 24—congregations, camps, and campus ministries.”
The conversation and learning sessions for congregations will include a series of eight free live online webinars called “Pathway Conversations: Young Disciples and the Church Today.” Each session will help congregations in their attempts to engage young persons in the lives of churches. The first of these webinars is expected to be hosted online by fall 2021.
In addition, collaboration between congregations, camps, and campus ministries will be facilitated through face-to-face gatherings funded by this grant. Up to 10 regional gatherings in Texas and New Mexico will be organized by the Timothy Circle, with each gathering hosted by a camp or campus ministry within a three-hour drive of its participants.
These groups will spend time listening to each other, collaborating, and coordinating their work with young people to improve the way young people move between their ministries. The grant also funds research and follow up to determine the effectiveness of the gatherings and collaborations.
Both the online webinars and the gatherings will be supported by the existing Timothy Circle network, which offers resources, supports and connects young people discerning their call, as well as their parents, pastors, youth workers, camps, campus ministries, and laypeople.
“One of the advantages of the Timothy Circle is that the network is already available for congregations who want to support their young adults in their call to God’s service,” Wilke adds. “This will not be a one-day seminar after which the participants go home with nothing but notes from some lectures. This will be an ongoing network that will grow and take root in the lives of these congregations.”
For more information on the Timothy Circle visit timothycircle.com.
The Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship is based at Southwestern College, a United Methodist-affiliated college in Winfield, Kan. It manages and supports a variety of educational programs — both online and in person — that increase discipleship and Christian leadership skills.
Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the Church to achieve its God-appointed mission, and to living our values of servanthood, integrity and competence. TMF is the largest United Methodist foundation in the country offering assistance to United Methodists through investments, loans, grants, leadership platforms, gift planning, and endowment services. Based in Austin, Texas, TMF serves the six United Methodist conferences throughout Texas and New Mexico. To learn more, please visit tmf-fdn.org.