A decade of discretionary grants helps Larger Life Foundation impact Northern Province churches and agencies

Schoennbrunn worship service

One million dollars is a big number. It is a number you expect to only hear talked about in corporate boardrooms. It is not a number you expect to hear eclipsed by a financial stewardship resource of the Moravian Church.

However, in the spring of 2021, the discretionary grants of the Larger Life Foundation (LLF) will surpass $1,000,000. This is the tenth anniversary of the Discretionary Grant arm of the Larger Life, and $964,101 has been distributed to 164 congregations and agencies of the Moravian Church Northern Province since LLF’s discretionary grant program was established in spring of 2011.

The Board of Trustees is humbled and honored to have made a difference to many different congregations and agencies. In addition, the trustees are grateful for the foresight of the many board members who have come before us to set up the discretionary grant program from the original LLF that was chartered in 1920.

Sometimes Larger Life is thought of first as providing discretionary grants. However, for 100 years now the LLF has provided meaningful semi-annual financial assistance to twenty core agencies of the Moravian Church Northern Province; it also provides loans to congregations of the MCNP. Starting in 2011, grants have been awarded to agencies, organizations and congregations to address immediate needs related to a capital project, start-up program or start-up position, or to meet an unexpected, non-recurring expense. Discretionary grants depend on funds available and the number of requests received. Many of them are in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. Annually those funds often total around $100,000.

Many requests for funds are for the unexpected costly repairs of roofs, elevators and basement water problems, just to name a few. Others stem from remodeling projects that turn into more expensive projects because of needed asbestos removal or other headaches that show up when a project is started. 2020 has been a year of requests not only for the normal repairs and upgrades but to promote safety options because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Those requests have been for installing new or expanding the already existing sound and projection systems to promote distancing during worship. Requests have also been made to remodel spaces for safe gatherings and upgrading restroom facilities.

In the spring of 2012, a discretionary grant request of $5,000 was awarded to Schoenbrunn Community Moravian Church in New Philadelphia, Ohio, for handicap accessibility to the pulpit in the sanctuary so members confined to wheelchairs and walkers can participate in the worship service.

In the fall of 2014, a discretionary grant request of $6,000 was awarded to Christ’s Community Church in Maple Grove, Minn. They were excited to have an opportunity from God to serve their community in a new and impactful way with KidPack—to provide young elementary school students who experience food insecurity on weekends with a bag of food one weekend a month.

KidPack brought schools, churches, community organizations and social service organizations into partnership with one another to make a difference in the community. Through KidPack, Christ’s Community Moravian served food for approximately 320 students.

Larger Life was one of the early supporters of the start-up project Tricklebee Café. In the fall 2015, they received a $3,500 discretionary grant for the purchase of restaurant equipment to help facilitate the opening of the café the next year. Then, in the fall of 2018, Tricklebee was awarded a $5,500 grant for partial funding to hire part-time café managers the next year. Tricklebee was able to hire 3 part-time managers which helped continue future operations. Tricklebee is a pay-what-you-can community cafe that offers healthy meals, food-service training and spiritual nourishment in Milwaukee, Wis.

Moravian Hall Square in Nazareth, Pa., was interested in establishing a pilot music therapy program for residents of the retirement community. They received a $10,000 grant in Spring 2017 to explore the benefits of folk songs, percussive instruments, sing-alongs, etc., in increasing individual and group interactions. Two trials of music therapy services were funded by the Larger Life grant and resulted in increased awareness of the positive role of music therapy in their comprehensive care services.

In the fall of 2019, Unionville Moravian Church in Unionville, Mich. was awarded a $8,850 discretionary grant for belfry renovation. The church building’s appearance was revitalized and made their 150th anniversary celebration in 2020 a little more special. And in the fall of 2020 Advent Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pa., and Lititz Moravian Church, Lititz, Pa., received discretionary grants of $5,000 each for technology upgrades for worship spaces to accommodate COVID-19 requirements.

We, as LLF trustees, love to be good stewards of the financial gifts that God has given us. Please don’t hesitate to apply for a grant when your organization, agency, or congregation is in need—that is what we are here for.

Visit the Larger Life Foundation website, www.largerlifefoundation.org for grant guidelines and an application. For additional information on applying for a discretionary grant, contact Tammy Curcio, Treasurer, 1021 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018 or call 610-867-7566, ext. 17.

As the Larger Life Foundation continues its second century of service to the church, we also continue to rely exclusively on gifts and bequests from individuals. We value all donations and planned gifts given directly to the LLF or through the Moravian Ministries Foundation. MMF also administers our investment portfolio. The Foundation looks to the future with faith and gratitude.

Jon Gehler and Steve Pasquinelli are trustees of the Larger Life Foundation. Jon is a member of Ebenezer Moravian Church, Watertown, Wis. and Steve is a member of Schoenbrunn Community Moravian Church, New Philadelphia, Ohio. Larger Life celebrated a century of giving in 2020.

The Larger Life Discretionary Grants have been blessing congregations in the Northern Province since 2011. The opportunity to receive grants has released the imagination of our church leaders to take ministry to a level beyond what they could afford locally. Whether a grant was needed to deal with an emergency such as a roof leak or to provide equipment to expand ministry beyond the four walls of a building. Investing in the technology to provide livestream worship services during the COVID-19 pandemic has literally brought ministry to the world. With viewers from across the province and around the world, fellowship, worship, and education is rich with connections that would otherwise not be possible. The Provincial Elders’ Conference is deeply grateful to LLF for providing “larger life” to so many churches and ministries across our province.~ The Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, PEC president