Good News: The Memorial Church Grants Committee

Text from David Foster's January 25, 2016 Morning Prayers Talk

David Foster

I’m delighted to open the Spring Semester round of Morning Prayers talks with a message of Good News. My assignment is tell you a bit about the work of the Memorial Church Grants Committee, which in my opinion could also be known as the Committee that helps to share God’s love with the surrounding community—such a wonderful task to have! First a description of the pragmatic work done by our Committee of ten—which is made up of undergraduates, including a representative from the University Choir, graduate students, a member of the church clergy, and other adult members of the congregation. Our primary task is to meticulously evaluate the applications submitted by some 75 or 80 non-profit organizations in the Boston/Cambridge area and ultimately to make the difficult decisions about which of them will receive financial assistance from Memorial Church. Last year, the Committee awarded approximately $49,000 to 53 organizations. The total we have to share is roughly the amount generous worshippers put in the offering plate on Sunday mornings, but that’s more of a coincidence than an exact budgeting allocation. Roughly half of our grant recipients are programs under the umbrella of the Philips Brooks House Association and are directed by committed, inspired, inspiring undergraduates. Many of last year’s 53 grant recipients fell into the following categories: shelters, food kitchens, child care services, summer programs for local underserved youth, and programs that benefit those with substance abuse issues.  A full list and descriptions of the recipients can be found on the Memorial Church website under the heading: Our Programs.

And now briefly, my own reflections on the spiritual component of the work of the Grants Committee:  Occasionally I feel overwhelmed by the world’s Bad News, and I feel myself slipping towards cynicism and hopelessness, and I know I’m not alone in having such feelings. But then I visit Y2Y, the newly opened shelter for homeless youth across Mass Ave from the gates of this university and which was founded by recent Harvard grads and Morning Prayers speakers, Sarah Rosenkrantz and Sam Greenberg; or as part of my work for the Grants Committee, I visit the childcare facility housed in the basement of a church in Dorchester which accomplishes miracles on a shoestring budget; or I take the Redline to the Epiphany School, also in Dorchester, where God’s love fills the place to overflowing, changing the lives of those children, their families, their teachers and even this grateful volunteer. Such encounters with God’s love give me hope and make me glad to be a member of the Memorial Church community and its Grants Committee.

Thanks be to God.

David Foster is a Trustee at Epiphany School and a regular Morning Prayers attendee.