Some 77 Christian organizations and ministry groups have received grants of up to $1.25 million, totaling $92 million, to expand their parenting and family ministries.
The Lilly Endowment and its Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative have specifically earmarked funds for home-based programs and parent networks, Religion News Service reports.
“We’ve heard from many parents who are seeking to nurture the spiritual lives of their children, especially in their daily activities, and looking to churches and other faith-based organizations for support,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion, in a July 5 statement announcing the grants. “These thoughtful, creative and collaborative organizations embrace the important role that families have in shaping the religious development of children and are launching programs to assist parents and caregivers with this task.”
Many of the grant recipients will start their programs later this year. Funding is estimated to support the first five years of the programs.
Programs include ways to engage children with Christianity at home. The need follows the COVID-19 pandemic that forced traditional in-church methods of Christian instruction and teaching to adapt or shut down temporarily.
The change led to a greater need for parents to provide biblical learning opportunities at home for their children.
The Rev. Rubén Ortiz, director of national programs for Esperanza, said his Philadelphia-based organization will use its $1.25 million grant to expand services to help families and caregivers share their values and faith with their children– mostly Hispanic families.
“Whether it’s fragmentation, technological advances or spirituality, we need to refresh the traditional approaches to our faith,” Ortiz told Religion News Service. “We spent several months learning more deeply about child and adolescent development, parenting styles, attachment theory, family systems and so on, with an emphasis on faith development.”
Middle Collegiate Church, a New York congregation, is planning to use its $1.25 million grant for books, mealtime “conversation cards,” and parental guides to offer biblical and action-oriented stories for families.
“Our aim is to help parents and other caregivers nurture children’s development of a trustworthy theology and daily practices of faith through the power of story,” the church wrote in its proposal to the Lilly Endowment. “We will pilot facilitated Just Love Story Circles to gather diverse parents/caregivers as they nurture babies, toddlers, and preschoolers with just love in a setting that fosters appreciation of racial diversity and promotes healthy development.”
At Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Minnesota, a grant of $976,460 will be used to fund technological programs.
“We’re living in a time where rural families are increasingly isolated and the demands of work, school and activities make it difficult for traditional programs to be successful,” Pastor Angie Larson told RNS. “We hope to decentralize the work of faith from being in the church to coach parents with the tools to implement it at home.”
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.