Van Sickle Fund to help rural churches


Small, rural churches can apply for grants to use in big ways, through the new Van Sickle Small Rural Church Fund.

A $50,000 gift from Marjorie Van Sickle of Manchester UMC was invested with the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation. The Conference Board of Laity is overseeing the grant application process.

"She wants to help little churches, like hers, be able to do something they’ve never done before," said Chuck Stewart, Conference lay leader.

Worship attendance is 11 at the church in tiny Manchester, bordering Kansas, in Enid District.

A rural church with average worship attendance of 50 or fewer people can apply for up to $5,000.

Deadline is Dec. 1 to submit an application. Grant recipient(s) will be notified and awarded the funds that same month, Stewart said.

Stewart said Claudean Harrison, a Conference associate lay leader, has been crucial in developing this opportunity.

The lay leaders inquired: What small church could put needed dollars to use in real and profound ways?

The key for selection rests in identifying and dreaming about a ministry that can infuse spiritual vitality and bring people closer to Jesus Christ. Or, if a rural church has capital needs, the Van Sickle Fund could match what the church raises, up to $5,000.

Find the link to the application at

You also may email Harrison,,  or contact your district superintendent or district lay leader.