For years, the Greene County Ministerial Association served as an organization through which churches could help to meet the expressed need in Greene. Recently, the GCMA sensed a need to reassess it's purpose. The assistance fund was still needed, but the association felt a need to concentrate on building fellowship, encouragement and special training opportunities for group members, while continuing to help our churches work together to meet the expressed needs in our community. Knowing the time limitations on pastors, and to utilize the special gifts and abilities of more of our lay people, the association began to pray and ask the Lord to lead us into the next step in helping our churches more effectively serve this county. GRACE is the answer to our prayer.
Late in 2004, a steering committee, including both lay people and clergy, was formed to develop a plan. The committee undertook a needs assessment survey to find where needs were already being met and where others were not being met. They considered faith-based groups like, CCHASM near Richmond, and MESA near home in Madison. The group agreed the focus needed to be for long-term help rather than a quick fix for an on-going problem. After much soul-searching and reflection, the GRACE ministry was born.
The purpose of GRACE is to empower individuals and families to move toward independence and a more self-reliant life-style by offering a hand-up, and not just a hand-out. GRACE is actively seeking 501(c)(3) status and moreover seeks to be an organization whose members include any religious or civic group that supports its purpose and will sign its Pledge of Commitment. Individuals may also participate in GRACE. The heads of the religious groups and one additional member of the group combine to form the Board of Directors for GRACE. Civic organizations may have one representative from that group on the Board, as well. Furthermore, local community helping agencies are encouraged to take part and assist the GRACE Board in an advisory role.
If you have considered volunteering or want more information, please call a GRACE volunteer on Tuesday or Thursday morning at 985-6792.
We are thankful for this community's support of the GRACE ministry.
Valerie Ritter, Chair,
Greene Ministerial Association,
September 18, 2005
On January 9th of 2005 The Greene County Ministerial Association formed a steering committee to come up with a more effective way of handling our churches funds that are designated to meet emergency needs. They recognized a need for one central organization that could provide communication between churches and agencies in the county in order to avoid duplication of services. They also recognized the need to discern genuine needs in order to reach more people in crisis situations.
With the help of local agencies, the Steering Committee began to compile information on all the many resources currently available in the county. A needs assessment was finalized and was very much in line with information given to us by local agencies. It became clear that a consolidation of many services as well as our monies would benefit the entire county. We began talks of forming a faith-based organization supported by churches, community and businesses that would address financial assistance as well as volunteer services for families in need.
On March 31, 2005 The Steering Committee decided on the name of GR.A.C.E. for this new organization standing for Greene Alliance of Church and Community Efforts. Our Vision is "Guided by God, we will provide an opportunity for every church, business, and community organization in Greene County to work together as one body to offer hope to residents in need." Our Mission is "To work together to coordinate programs to identify, assist, and empower residents in need." Our purpose is "To empower individuals and families to move towards independence and a more self-sufficient life by offering a hand up not just a hand out." Our Core Values are "Communication, Teamwork, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Integrity and Commitment."
How does GR.A.C.E. work? Churches, community groups, businesses and individuals become members by financially supporting this organization. They also have the opportunity to use their gifts and talents through one of our outreach programs. GR.A.C.E. serves as a reference for churches as they receive calls requesting financial assistance. This takes the burden of discerning genuine needs off of our churches or other community groups. GR.A.C.E. has a screening process to determine an emergency for those seeking financial assistance. We appeal to the community in a monthly Community Connection column in The Greene County Record informing the community of needs that families in our community have. We work closely with churches, local agencies, and others in helping families through our Volunteer Program. We support the idea of working together to establish one Food Bank supported by all local churches, schools, community organizations, and businesses. By working together we hope to be able to meet the needs of many more families in our community and avoid duplication of services.
Rhonda Oliver, Chair
July 23, 2005