“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life…”
(John 6:35a).

2023 is the Year of Story, and some of the best stories from across Northwest Ohio have their genesis in the Imagining Renewal Microgrants initiative. Why are Microgrants so important?

Microgrants encourage God’s people to dream new dreams.
Microgrants seed mission and ministry beyond the four walls of our parishes.
Microgrants help us connect with what God is already up to in the community.

And as Pastor Chris Young shares in the story below, Microgrants are making a real difference in the community of Port Clinton.

“Fresh Bread”…where food and faith come together to form family.

Fresh Bread is an informal gathering of a diversity of people exploring faith together over the simplicity of a shared meal, similar to the gatherings of the earliest Christians.

As our last “Fresh Bread” faith gathering, a woman who had told me she was a Vietnam Veteran came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, “Fresh Bread is the best thing that has happened to me in a very long time.” She told me she couldn’t wait to invite other residents in her retirement community to come. Another woman told me that she hasn’t gone to church in a long time, but coming to “Fresh Bread” is reconnecting her to faith and is filling a need for community in her life. (She is starting to look for a local church.) A man walked into the front hallway by Bistro163, the Pay-it-Forward restaurant where “Fresh Bread” meets. He and his dog found a seat at a table in the hallway and watched us welcoming people. A couple of the guys sat down and talked with him, inviting him inside. He chose to eat a meal in the hallway that time. But next time, he accepted the invitation and sat at a table with new friends.

It took us 2 years of planning and trusting in God’s guidance and provision before our team (made of people who love Jesus) opened the doors to this new ministry in our Port Clinton Community. One of the reasons we were able to start was the generosity of the people of the NW Ohio Synod of the ELCA who embraced the vision of offering microgrants for new ways of reaching out and being the church. We received financial help for the purchase of sound equipment and for art supplies for our Community Art projects. The financial help not only jump-started our new ministry, but it also said to our community that the church cares. Microgrants matter! Now other “Fresh Bread” inspired models are springing up with their own creative adaptations.

God is inspiring creative visions for ministry all over our Synod. I plan to make a donation to this year’s Microgrant initiative, to help other’s open doors to the gospel of Jesus. Will you join me and help make the God-shaped visions a reality? Together, we can and do make a difference in Christ’s name.

Pastor Chris Young