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After Church

2024 Palmer Grant

"Thriving in a 21st Century Church Post-pandemic World" 

Five churches will be awarded grants of $5,000 each to assist them in meeting an adaptive challenge they face!

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.


New Revised Standard Version: Updated Edition (Friendship Press, 2021), Je 29:4–7.

The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you and will cause flesh to come upon you and cover you with skin and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” 


New Revised Standard Version: Updated Edition (Friendship Press, 2021), Eze 37:1–6.

Thriving in a 21st Century Church Post-pandemic World

The prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah each attempt to make sense of the new cultural and spiritual realities for the people of Israel during the Exile. Ezekiel exhorts the exiles to live into where they are now, understand the collective trauma, and recognize the hurt that they have experienced due to loss and displacement. Jeremiah tells the exiles to, "Build houses and live in them, plant gardens….bear sons and daughters…," (Jeremiah 29:5-6, NRSV, excerpted). Here, the prophet tells the exiles to continue to be productive and to seek the welfare of the community they're in, "for in its welfare you will find your welfare," (verse 7b, NRSV).


The "Thriving in a 21st Century Church Post-pandemic World" initiative in ABC Rochester/Genesee Region, inspired by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel and based on Ronald Heifetz' adaptive leadership theory, will help your congregation be equipped to observe and assess trends in your church and your community; interpret your current ministry in light of those observations; and develop experimental initiatives to respond to those interpretations. 

The Purpose

The "Thriving Congregations" Initiative will...

  • Provide training and funding for congregations to engage in assessment of their community and/or their congregation

  • Assist congregations in interpreting the results of their assessments

  • Support congregations in developing experiments to respond to those interpretations

  • Establish a community of practice among all grant recipients for sharing learnings and support through the process

This grant is intended to help congregations discern "what's next?"

Projects will be viewed favorably if they:​

  • Demonstrate a desire to better understand and address the changes a congregation is facing in its own demographics, in the community around it, and in U.S. society in general.

  • Include an assessment process or, if assessment has already occurred, include information about how the results are being interpreted and used.

  • Show "novelty." In other words, projects will show how the church is endeavoring to do something new, different, or re-invigorated to respond to the findings from the assessment.

  • Are experimental. In other words, there must be a risk of failure or nothing new is really being tried. 

  • Include a learning process after the experiment is endeavored. How is the congregation going to evaluate what it has done, incorporate the learnings, and create a new iteration or develop a new experiment? 

What Are We Looking for?

What Is Involved? 

This grant is intended to form a community of practice.

Once a grant is awarded, the recipient congregation/leadership team will:

  • Attend three hybrid consultations with all grant recipients and the Executive Minister. These consultations will include a learning component, a time for reflection based on the learning, and time to share within the grant cohort. The consultations will be placed at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the grant year.

  • Be invited into a discussion group on the region website and there will be encouraged to touch base with other members of the cohort, share ideas, questions, and so forth. The Executive Minister will also periodically post information or questions to encourage conversation.

  • Be required to report to the wider ABCRGR community on their experience with the grant project. This report will be given at a delegates meeting at the end of the grant year. The report may be verbal, written, via video, etc.

To apply, your congregation must be in good standing with ABC Rochester/Genesee Region. Check with the region office if you're not sure of your congregation's standing.

You do not need to have a fully-formed plan when applying. Fine-tuning your plans will be part of the initial grant consultations. 


You must have an identified leadership team of at least three people for the grant initiative in your congregation. This team will need to commit to participating in the hybrid consultations associated with the grant awards (at least two out of three members for each session).

You must follow through with all reporting requirements.

Eligibility and Requirements

Application and

Deadline for applications: February 28, 2024.

Applicants will be notified by March 22, 2024. Checks will be sent soon after that date.

The application must be completed in full. Please review carefully before submitting. An incomplete application will not be considered. 


No partial grants awarded. There are five grants at $5,000 each to be awarded.


Use this button for a downloadable PDF version to use for preparation of application. You are encouraged to read through all the questions before starting the online application process.


Please complete the application for submission online. 

Use this button to complete the application online.

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