Lenten Offering grants are offered to all Victorian and Tasmanian Uniting Church congregations, UnitingCare agencies and other groups which are formally connected to the Church.
They provide funds for special mission projects and allow congregations and groups to experiment with an idea beyond their normal day-to-day operations but still within the mission of the Church.
Among this year’s successful recipients was the Hobart-based Thirsty Ground singing group which will use a $13,000 grant to assist with its performance program and produce a second CD of original music.
All Thirsty Ground members are also members of the Hobart Choir of High Hopes, based at Scots Memorial Uniting Church.
Members are aged between 40 and 60 and many have experienced significant physical, intellectual or mental health issues.
They form part of the regular Tuesday morning worship at Scots, which musician John Coleman facilitates, and they also meet separately on Thursdays to meditate on scriptural passages and create the lyrics that John sets to music.
John, who is employed part-time as a pastor at Scots, said the group was delighted to have been successful.
“It is fantastic to get such an incredibly generous donation from the Uniting Church,” he said.
“It also helps the self-esteem of those in the group by showing that they are worthy recipients and affirms what they are doing in the Church.”
John said the grant would make life a little easier to ferry members to engagements around the state, which include regular performances at Uniting AgeWell facilities in Tasmania’s south.
“We do not always have the cars available to travel and this will allow us, at times, to hire a small bus to transport people.”
John said members gained much from their interaction with Church communities.
“For the participants, the opportunity to have their understanding of faith and life experiences put into song is a very powerful thing,” he said.
“The presentation of this work to the wider church has allowed their gifts to be revealed and the church and the members of our group are enriched because of this sharing.”
John said he hoped the next CD would be launched in about April next year.
Lenten Appeal grants – which are worth about $15,000 each subject to donations received – differ from Share grants in that deductible gift recipient status is not required to apply.
Share Director Angela Goodwin encouraged congregations to apply for mission projects which reached out to the community and addressed need or injustice in creative ways
“They can be unusual in scope, be projects that incorporate artistic elements or be based at a remote location,” Angela said.
Projects which may have difficulty receiving funds from other sources, such as Share grants, are favoured.
Applications for 2017 Lenten Offering grants – which are funded through the donations of congregations and individuals – close on 20 August.
Applications must be lodged using the online application form at https://share.smartygrants.com.au/lent2017