Mission & Ministry Grants Provide Support for Spiritual Deepening and Emotional Care

Each year, the National Benevolent Association invites congregations and ministries to apply for a Mission & Ministry Grant. These grants are reserved specifically for projects that will impact older adults as well as historically excluded youth and young adults. Below is a story from a grantee who received funds for their work in 2021.   

Templo Cristiano Central embarked on its first Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program in October 2019.  CPE combines professional education and hands-on experience so clergy can provide spiritual care to patients, family, and other loved ones in clinical settings such as hospitals, homeless shelters, and other congregations. From its inception, one of our goals was to provide a learning experience for our clergy at senior residential community Manistee Manor. This partnership would allow them to work with the aging population. Templo Cristiano and Manistee Manor have enjoyed a strong working relationship since 2014 when our CPE Educator began serving on Manistee’s Board. We were thrilled to receive an NBA grant in November 2020 for $5,000 which made it possible for us to set up an office at Manistee Manor and begin our long-awaited goal of providing our clergy with another opportunity to offer spiritual care.

Jessie Fraguada, student chaplain

From the very first hour that a chaplain arrived at Manistee Manor, it was clear there had been a need for spiritual counsel services and that the community had been underserved. Many residents at Manistee were quick to engage with our chaplains. One of our first chaplain was Jessie Fraguada, a dynamic and enthusiastic person who was instrumental in launching the program. Jessie’s enthusiasm for the program resulted in outreach to many of the 175 residents at Manistee Manor in several different ways.

Initially, we used funds to set up an office at the end of the hallway on the first floor of the building. The office space provided a semi-private workspace for the student chaplains and a place for residents to see them and drop in without an appointment. The office was fitted with a desk, shelving, chairs, a privacy screen, PC, monitor, office supplies, and a good collection of useful books.

Student chaplain office hours were indicated each day on whiteboards set up in the main lobby of the building and typically start with the first few hours “at the desk” and then move to an hour on the second floor and end with an hour on the third floor.  Placing student chaplains on different floors at different times made them more accessible and increased the number of resident engagements.  

A suggestion box was set up at the CPE Student Chaplain desk for residents to submit prayer requests, make suggestions, drop off notes of appreciation, etc.  Additionally, a biweekly Sunday worship service was established in the multi-function room which was enthusiastically attended. Bible study sessions began near the beginning of the CPE unit and have continued on Thursdays. Grant funds also made possible the purchase of a greatly needed small sound system (CD player) for the Sunday services and a large clock to help with those visually impaired. 

CPE spiritual counseling services have been promoted primarily through the presence of student chaplains on site. We’ve also been able to get the word out to residents via posting in the Manistee Manor monthly newsletter and on the electronic announcement board located in the lobby.

We are exceedingly grateful for the NBA grant. It has made for the creation of a much-needed spiritual care space and experience for Manistee Manor residents and for a valuable new experience for our Templo Cristiano Central CPE students. The success of the program (as attested to by our resident survey responses and by the number of residents daily engaging with the student chaplains) has exceeded our hopes!

Are you interested in receiving grant funds for your health and social service project? Consider applying for a Mission & Ministry grant here.