On January 26, 200 people gathered in Creekside to celebrate the first anniversary of The Changemaker Initiative. Changemaker Fellows shared their stories, their projects, and how their faith has been deepened and strengthened through the Initiative. Our Ashoka partners shared their reflections on the partnership and what they have learned from working with a faith-based organization. The dinner honored the great work and results of the Initiative and was filled with gratitude for all the supporters and contributors who helped to make the program a success. Several people spoke on “risking something big for something good,” recognizing the ways that everyone involved stepped out in faith to try something new. Indeed, that is what faith is all about.
A common theme among all the Fellows is the impact that the fellowship has had on their lives, specifically their faith. In a recent survey, 79 percent of the Fellows said that they have used what they learned about being a compassion-driven changemaker not just on their projects but in other parts of their lives. In addition, 50 percent of the Fellows have changed their prayer habits, formed a new spiritual practice, or read the Bible differently than before, and 84 percent have found an opportunity to talk about church or their faith with other people in a new way. The Changemaker Initiative has proven to lead not only to positive social impact and deepened community partnerships, but also to an unforgettable journey in faith.
As LAUMC turns to year two of The Changemaker Initiative, there is much more to come. The current Fellows will continue their work with the church’s support. A new cohort of Fellows will start later this year with a developing faith and changemaking curriculum for adults and youth. Leaders hope to engage other churches in embracing changemaking, as well. LAUMC will continue to define what being a Changemaker Church is and find new ways to demonstrate how changemaking is an actionable way to live out our faith.
During the dinner, Pastor Kathi said that The Changemaker Initiative was not a departure from where LAUMC is or has been but builds upon the great culture of our congregation. The Changemaker Initiative is just a step in our continuing evolution to live out our mission.