By Lizbeth Johnson and Chris Markert
In 2019, the Brenham Mission Society had final accomplished its original purpose- to collect and distribute $1 million in grants to support mission in the Gulf Coast Synod. At that time, there was discernment about what happened next. Some on the Board believed the Brenham Mission Society had completed its mission and should dissolve. Others believed there was still a purpose for a mission society, and those interested came together to reform the Brenham Mission Society into the Town & Country Mission Society (TCMS). And with the financial generosity of the 2019 Synod Assembly’s worship offering, TCMS established an endowment was created to begin to intentionally invest in mission and ministry specifically in small towns and rural areas. The goal is to provide mission grants to qualifying congregations, coalitions, and ministries located in rural and small towns within the territory of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, focusing on: missional vitality; initiative and innovation; and expanding ministries to greater service in rural areas and small towns of the synod.
Well, the time has come for the first grant to be allocated from the Town & Country Mission Society!
The Board met on Thursday, September 1, 2022, and approved the first distribution. The endowment and the distribution from that funding source has been growing steadily during the COVID years and time of limited contact. The concept of delivering annual grants from the endowment to area ministries has been a goal of the Board since the rebranding.
The Mission Society currently provides oversight for two endowments, a general endowment for ministry grants for small town and rural ministries, and one for Kruse Village Spiritual Care that will help minister to senior citizens at Kruse Village now and later expand to other senior facilities in the future. The larger the endowment, the larger the annual distribution to help maintain a Lutheran presence and minister to older individuals at a time in their lives when they may feel more isolated and separated from family and loved ones. Currently, Pastor Glenn Hohlt serves as the Chaplain and Intern Donna Kruger serves Kruse Village with Bible Studies, Gospel Song Fests and Worship Service on Thursday afternoons. The first grant from the Kruse endowment has provided communion supplies and resources.
The grant application, open to any ministry in a rural area or small town, will be posted to the TCMS website by October 15. Application reviews will take place during the month of November and the announcement of the winning grant will be made in mid-December. In the spring of 2023, the Town and Country Mission Society plans to introduce the first grant winner to the synod and celebrate with a dinner and music entertainment fundraiser that will help to support the growing endowment funds.
Current TCMS Board members include: President Cindy Lyles; Pastor Cindy Robles, Deacon Katharine Cameron, Pastor Glenn Hohlt, Ms. Penny Spreen, Tiny Mehrens, Pastor Chris Markert, and Dr. Lizbeth Johnson.