Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Where are they now? The original New People New Places grant recipients


On February 21, 2015, the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church announced the first recipients of a new kind of grant: New People New Places. A total of 24 projects received $629,665 in funding, with grants ranging from $1,970 to $150,000.

New People New Places was born out of a great desire to draw more people to God, welcoming them into the central setting for disciple-making: local church life both within and beyond the church building.

Originally, the New People New Places grant was funded through Apportionment Giving and had a budget of $700,000.  The grant was moved into Mission and Ministry giving in 2018, leaving its funding to the generosity of the local church.

Take a look back at some of the very first recipients of the New People New Places grant. Though many of these ministries predate their grant, all have demonstrated how the grant's financial support encouraged each ministry to not just survive, but thrive.

Runner Girls & Guys: $1,970  |  Wright City UMC and Valliant UMC

2015: Children ages 9-18 in this small southeastern town grow mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually by running with their mentors. The pastor, who also is a runner, has created a small book that teaches church members how to grow as disciples and how to mentor young disciples one-on-one. This program could be replicated in many other places.

2019: Now in its fourth year, the Runner Girls & Guys after school mentor-discipleship ministry averages 40 runners each week. The program is self-funded and remains free to its participants, who come from two area schools. “The NPNP grant helped us kick off at the starting gate, and we are keeping up a good pace with several new participants joining the fun every season,” said pastor and ministry founder Lois Bartley. “We are thankful for our NPNP support of our ‘Runner Girls & Guys’ and hope to continue keeping up a good pace for years to come!”

Toy Makers of Hugo: $10,000  |  Heritage UMC - Hugo

2015: People from two merging Hugo churches and the community have all come together to create wooden toys to give and share as a ministry. Even more than the finished products, intentional discipleship comes through the work of creating the toys together. The involvement and commitment from those both inside and outside the church show this to be a connected, effective ministry.

2019: Due to the growth of the ministry and community involvement, Toy Makers of Hugo declined to renew their grant beyond the first year. On Saturdays, men and women gather at the ministry’s workshop to carve, shape and smooth the toys. Finished toys are painted by volunteers or used for “Painting Parties,” children’s birthday parties in which each child paints two toys: one to keep and one to give to a child in need. In a promotional video for the ministry, one volunteer stated, “I’ve learned to use a saw and a drill and a sander, and in the process, I think it’s brought our church community closer together. We’re all looking forward to being able to take these out and give them to the children, and when you see the expression on their faces, I think it’s going to be all worthwhile.”

OU Wesley Foundation Wesley Internship: $35,000  |  The Wesley at the University of Oklahoma - Norman

2015: After graduation from college, seven young adults will be trained as interns who will learn to lead in various areas. This project is modeled on the successful internship program of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Georgia.

2019: The OU Wesley Foundation continues to train interns for ministry after graduation. In 2018, two interns were hired on a full-time basis for the duration of the school year. “If you can get a fifth year out of a student, it’s invaluable in terms of relationship and what you can do,” director Josh Coates told the Contact in November 2018. “Our goal is to help launch them into a successful career in helping lead others to Christ.”

OU Chinese Fellowship, Women’s & Children’s Outreach: $20,000  |  The Wesley at the University of Oklahoma - Norman

2015: Spouses and children of Chinese students at OU, many of them new Christians, receive assistance with childcare, medical care, and tutoring in English, in addition to worship and discipleship.

2019: Under Fuxia Wang’s leadership, the OU Chinese Fellowship has grown into an even fuller international ministry, with 180 international students representing 21 countries from five continents. In the past 10 years, the ministry had 70 baptisms and produced the leaders for seven house churches in China. Because of the ministry’s growth and impact, a new International Office Suite was built in 2018. “This ministry is impacting our community in a way beyond our imagination,” Wang said. “We are having the foretaste of the heaven as the Lord is joining us -the people from many nations all over the world as one body of Christ in worship God and serving God’s people together to transform the campus and world.”

Moore First UMC: HomeGroup Ministry: $3,250  |  Moore First UMC - North Norman, Moore, South Oklahoma City and Edmond

2015: Using a deeply Wesleyan model of growing as disciples through home groups, all participants in this already successful ministry at Moore First UMC are challenged to invite others who are not participating in a church into their groups.

2019: A total of 10 HomeGroups meeting Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in homes and shops across North Norman, Moore, South Oklahoma City and Edmond. Each HomeGroup has a different primary focus or topic appealing to a wide range of ages and interests such as intercessory prayer, guided Bible study, sewing to benefit local nonprofits, women in their 30s, and life in retirement. The HomeGroup Facilitators Guide describes the groups as the church’s expression of Wesley’s bands or class meetings. “You are not ‘fixing’ or ‘solving’ life’s stressors,” it tells facilitators, “you are leading people to Jesus through conversation, prayer, the Bible, and shared fellowship and service.”

International Ministry Multipurpose Building: $150,000  |  Edmond Chinese International UMC - Edmond

2015: Chinese and other international students, many in the United States for the first time and many with no prior experience of Christianity, find welcome at this young, energetic church. Edmond Chinese International UMC has a well-defined plan for making disciples of Jesus Christ. With a rapidly growing number of participants, the current church facility is being used at maximum capacity. There are young adults and children of varied nationalities eager for opportunities to become a part of this fellowship and study to become disciples, but, much like Mary and Joseph were told, there is simply no more room!

2019: The church broke ground on the Agape Family Center in May 2016 and the building was finished in 2017. The 11,000-square-foot building houses several classrooms and a multipurpose gymnasium space. Conference records show the church received 48 new members and experienced 43 professions of faith between January 2015 and January 2018. In November 2018, ECIUMC launched Campaign100 with the goal of paying off the last $100,000 on the AFC by December 2019. “When we first purchased our property in 2009, after many years of praying and saving for it, we knew that the church building was not large enough to accommodate our many outreaches and children's ministries. But the location was what we had hoped for,” said Trustee Chair Scott Zerger. “We truly needed a New Place for our New People. Without that financial grant of the NPNP, we probably could not have begun the project for another five to 10 years.”

Ice Angels’ Mobile Commissary for the Homeless: $44,650  |  Epworth UMC, Mosaic UMC, Skyline Urban Ministries - Oklahoma City

2015: Homeless people in central Oklahoma City receive water, food, and clean clothes in exchange for their dirty ones through this mobile ministry of OKC-Epworth.

2019: Ice Angels is now under the ministry umbrella of Skyline Urban Ministries as part of their weekly street outreach. Ministry founders Lenny and Mary Kaplan expressed excitement at how much the ministry has grown since moving to Skyline. “We just have more volunteers that come, so we can reach more people,” Mary told the Contact in November 2018. Lenny agreed, saying, “Skyline has been the biggest help because when we’re doing this, they supply the food so we can cook and get a meal going, and it’s just been wonderful. We’ve been able to serve people a meal that you’d go to a restaurant to get. It’s improving every year.”


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