The Larger Life Foundation is fast approaching 100 years of ministry to the Moravian Church Northern Province. Through income received from its permanent endowment fund, the Foundation is able to provide “larger life” to many Moravian agencies and causes. Its financial reach is broad and far-reaching, including support for individual churches, educational institutions, camps, retirement facilities, ministerial aid and training, social welfare programs, Provincial administrative support, world mission and church expansion.
Support for education has been integral to the Larger Life Foundation mission since its inception in 1920, when the Northern Provincial Synod designated Moravian College and Theological Seminary as one of the Foundation’s ten grant recipients. Today, the College and Theological Seminary comprise one of 20 core agencies receiving annual grant assistance from the Foundation. They currently designate their funds for essential scholarship aid and also general operating expenses.
Smaller discretionary grants for short-term specific projects are also awarded by the Foundation. One of the 19 smaller discretionary grants awarded in 2016 went to Moravian College: a $5,400 grant for an innovative program called, “The 1742 Experience.”
The program was originally created as a week-long pre-orientation program for incoming first-year students, but later it was expanded to projects throughout the year. Through the program, students engaged in community service, principally in the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, area, including the library, Boys & Girls Club, Central Moravian Church, Green Meadows Burial Ground, Historic Bethlehem, New Bethany Ministries, Peaceable Kingdom, YMCA, elementary schools and an emergency shelter.
The service projects initially focused on the social injustice issues that are relevant for the community: homelessness, food insecurity, and children and youth. For example, in September, work included making over 400 socks for residents of a local nursing home; in October, they created a safe Halloween experience for local elementary school children; in November, they created fleece scarves and blankets for donations to the Bethlehem Emergency Services shelter. Later projects included efforts such as Operation Santa, a spring planting event, building birdhouses and tutoring elementary school children. The activities were student-driven in both creation and implementation.
Student reaction to the “The 1742 Experience” has been positive. One student shared, “This really opened my eyes and made me realize I need to count my blessings, even in basic stuff like food and shelter.” Another wrote, “My biggest takeaway was: the meaning I got out of life by helping others instead of myself for once. I became selfless for the week and it’s opened my eyes to amazing opportunities and experiences.”
Moravian College staffers reported to the Larger Life Foundation that “because of the generosity of the Larger Life grant, we were able to recruit twice as many students as we have in previous years, and were able to contribute to our community in both direct and indirect ways. Overall the students were able to serve at 11 sites in our community, some more than once, volunteering over 800 hours of service.”
The 1742 Experience program was initially launched at the College in 2011. It continues to thrive today under the direction of Gillian Sharkey, Director of Civic Engagement, enriching the lives of the students and the community at large.
Through annual core grants, discretionary grants for smaller projects and loans to churches, the Larger Life Foundation’s ministry to the Moravian church remains steadfast, with more than $5 million in grants and loans distributed in the past ten years alone. The Foundation’s enduring commitment is to provide help for today and to build for tomorrow. It relies entirely on large and small gifts from contributors. For information on how you can give to support the work of the Foundation, visit www.largerlifefoundation.org or contact Tammy Curcio, Treasurer, PO Box 1245, Bethlehem, PA 18016 or call 800-732-0591 or 610-867-7566, ext. 17.
Carolyn Clewell serves on the board of the Larger Life Foundation. Photos of participants in the “1742 Experience” at Moravian College courtesy of Robert Breckinridge, director of foundation relations at Moravian College.