By Matt Wexler
Improving our community is a noble goal, one that every citizen should aspire to. In particular, the Worcester area’s churches and congregations believe helping the community is of the utmost importance. Nothing demonstrates this better than the Community Ministries Fund, which has been supporting local social improvement efforts for the past several years.
The Community Ministries Fund was established in 2006 by the Worcester Area Mission Society and the Worcester Area United Methodists. For years, these groups had funded seed grants to local neighborhood programs, hoping to improve the lives of those living there. Yet a more united effort was needed to effect the big lasting changes these churches hoped were hoping for.
Comprised of many churches in the Worcester area, the Community Ministries Fund uses the combined resources of the congregations it’s comprised of to fund large and long lasting urban improvement projects. These can range from after school tutoring programs, art and music classes for the community, or even a weekly potluck supper for the homeless. These are just a few examples of the social problems the fund is designed to alleviate.
I sat down with Bob Bachelder, Minister of the Worcester Area Mission Society, to talk about the fund. Bob is one of the men in charge of the fund, and acts as the spokesman for promoting the fund to the public. In particular, Minister Bachelder impressed upon me just how much he wants the fund’s work to get the community at large involved. As Bob told me, “Neighborhoods come back to life when the people in them organize themselves,” an apt description of the social improvement the fund is designed to promote.
This message of communities coming together is something that the fund’s committee hopes to push beyond the boundaries of Worcester area. In the next few decades, the goal of the fund is to get enough churches and organizations involved that it can fund projects all over the state, and potentially even beyond that. “We take a long term stance on it.”
While the Community Ministries Fund was founded by traditional Christian churches, it is not limited to supporting only those religious organizations. Any religious group can potentially receive funding for a project, be they Jewish, Muslim, or any other faith. What’s important to the fund committee is that the idea being proposed is one that helps the community as a whole, regardless of religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation.
The Community Ministries Fund is always looking for new ideas, and accepts proposals throughout the year, up until the March deadline. Even if a proposal does not get accepted, Bob Bachelder assured me that the organizations involved in the fund are more than willing to try and find ways to get these programs the start and support they need.
By now, this year’s supported programs are already underway. I recommend that you check them out, either by volunteering in their ongoing programs or proposing one of your own. After all, it’s all about what we can do to make Worcester a better place.