2016 Innovation Prize Winners and Runners Up

McCormick Theological Seminary and the Center for Innovative Ministry are pleased to announce the winning entries of the 2016 McCormick Prize for Innovation.  The Annual Prize recognizes “impactful use of innovation in ministry,” and this year will award $8,000 in prizes to the winners.

“The quality of this year’s entries was exceptional,” offered Director of the Center for Innovative Ministry Dr. Thomas Dickelman.  “We received entries from throughout the country reflecting a broad range of ministries.  In most cases, the innovations began with a single idea that ultimately had multiple impacts.  Choosing just a few winners from among all the outstanding entries was a great challenge.”

The First Prize of $5,000 goes to Farm Church, a new worshipping community of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) based in Durham, North Carolina.  The mission of Farm Church is “to gather a Christ-centered community around elements of soil and food, to break bread together, and to leverage all the resources of a farm to address food insecurity in our community.” Dickelman offered, “Farm Church founders Rev. Allen Brimer and Rev. Ben Johnston-Krase had the vision to develop a niche worshipping community addressing food insecurity. Their ministry is what innovation is all about – solving problems and creating opportunities.  Additionally, their creative collaborations and use of social media to maximize opportunities are to be applauded.”  (www.farmchurch.org)

The 2016 McCormick Prize for Innovation has a three-way tie for Second Prize.  Each ministry will be awarded $1,000 in recognition of their innovative ministries.  Tied in second place are:

-          Columbia Teen Enterprises - Columbia Presbyterian Church, Vancouver, WA – The Rev. Matt Overton has developed not one but four independent, innovative youth ministries that are thriving in the Columbia community.  His innovations blend faith and economics and have young people doing everything from developing vocations to building their own charities – like renting a local laundromat and using it as a low-cost washing location, wifi spot, tutoring center, and relational hub.  Additionally, the entrepreneurially-driven Rev. Overton shares lessons learned and new visions on his blog. (www.youthministryinnovators.com)

-          Deaf International Community Church, Olathe, KS – With only 3% of the deaf community in the United States involved in church, the profoundly deaf and hard of hearing are a hugely underserved population.  The Deaf International Community Church led by co-founder Rev. Debbie Buchholz allows the Deaf a worship home, and provides community autonomy, an equal place in society, the opportunity to serve, and the Gospel – all in their native language, American Sign Language. (www.dicommunitychurch.org)

-          World on a Plate - Westminster Presbyterian Church, Lincoln, Nebraska – The Rev. Jen Strickland leads “World on a Plate,” a program that blends mission, stewardship, and fellowship.  One Friday each month, small groups meet in each others homes to share a potluck meal that celebrates another country’s cuisine – the cuisine of a country where a designated PCUAS missionary is serving.  One participant tells the story of the missionary’s work during the meal, and a free-will offering is taken following the meal and sent to further the mission.  Every few months, the groups are scrambled to encourage new friendships. 

Five other finalists in the McCormick Prize receive Special Mention for their ministries: F.I.R.S.T, Prison Lectionary, Holy Sh*t, Matthew Homes, and Parables Community.  These ministries, as well as all entries in the 2016 Prize, will be available on the McCormick Prize for Innovation Database (www.mccormick.edu) and (www.centerforinnovativeministry.com) later this spring.