Golden Cross Foundation Awards $125,869 in 2020 to 21 Churches and Organizations

By Cindy Solomon

The Golden Cross Foundation, a ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC), awarded more than $125,000 to churches and organizations throughout the conference in 2020. Money from the grants has been used toward retrofitting a parsonage to house low-income older adults to establishing food pantries to retrofitting churches with lifts or repaving parking lots making them more accessible and welcoming.

Founded in 2013, the Golden Cross Foundation (GCF) provides funding assistance for new and ongoing ministries and services with older adults in the Tennessee Conference. Staff also provides expertise and strategic planning to the conference for expanding innovative and effective ministries with older adults through ENCORE Ministry which is financially underwritten by GCF.

“From day one, I’ve always said the foundation exists to give money away,” said GCF Executive Director Kent McNish. “Each year, GCF board members review and approve grant requests from UM churches and organizations throughout the Tennessee Conference.”

In 2020, 21 grants were awarded ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Several churches receiving grant money applied it toward feeding ministries, including Elder’s Chapel UMC in Smyrna. Now, more than ever, its food pantry is a vital community ministry.

“Without the Golden Cross grant, our food pantry would not be thriving today,” said Elder’s Chapel member Shelia Howse. “Our numbers have increased 100 percent over the last six months due to the COVID-19 virus. We thank God that we are able to continue the food pantry during these times of uncertainty. The nutrition needs of seniors and others within the community go on in spite of the virus and we at Elder's UMC are here to aid in meeting their needs.”

Other churches applied grant money toward retrofitting their churches with new lifts or improving parking lots to increase accessibility. Such improvements can make older adult worshippers feel welcomed and valued. In some cases, the upgrades encouraged worshippers to return to church.

Grant money is also being used by churches and organizations for new and innovative programs. Members of New Providence UMC in Clarksville used their grant money to help retrofit a parsonage on the church property that, when complete, will house low-income adults.

“I look forward to the opportunity for our church to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community,” said the Rev. Jodi McBryant, pastor at New Providence. “Thanks in part to the Golden Cross Foundation grant funding our parsonage’s retrofitting project, this is one way we can do that. Many times, churches seem to focus more on children and youth. While they are certainly important, my heart breaks for older adults in our communities who are often forgotten.”

Golden Cross Foundation grant money also helped fund a Safer Worship Grant. Established by GCF, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, and the Turner Center at Martin Methodist College, the grant helped 34 churches provide safer in-person worship experiences. After local health officials deemed it safe to gather and churches began to reopen in the summer and fall of 2020, funds were used to help reimburse expenses for masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies.

During the pandemic, GCF’s board of directors met, virtually, to review grant proposals. In 2020, grants went to churches of all sizes,  including 30-member Scott’s UMC in Shelbyville and 925-member Belle Meade UMC in Nashville. Here is a chart of recipients.




Belle Meade UMC


Senior counseling center

Bethel UMC


Install four-person lift

Centertown UMC


Forklift for food pantry

Christ UMC McMinnville


Retrofit for online worship

Clarkrange UMC


Install stair lift

Elder's Chapel UMC


Food pantry

First UMC Shelbyville


Community Soup Kitchen

First UMC Winchester


Install four-person lift

Glencliff UMC


Retrofitting projects

Gordon Memorial UMC


Best Years Club

Homestead UMC


Repair lift

Ivy Bluff UMC


Homebound ministry

Madison Street UMC


Retrofit for online worship

Miriam’s Promise


Webinar helping grandparents prepare for an adopted grandchild

Morton Memorial UMC


Retrofit for online worship

New Providence UMC


Retrofit parsonage for low-income seniors

Scott’s UMC


Food pantry

Smyrna First UMC


Food pantry

Summerfield UMC


Retrofit kitchen for accessibility

Tennessee Ridge UMC


Resurface parking log

Westland UMC


Van for transportation ministry


Since 2014, more than $620,000 in grant money has been awarded to 61 churches and organizations.

“Word continues to spread about the Golden Cross Foundation grants and the positive impact they are making in older adults’ lives,” said McNish. “If your church wants to start or expand an older adult ministry or you want to retrofit your building to make it more accessible, safe, and welcoming, we encourage you to apply.”

Grant applications are accepted all year and reviewed at quarterly GCF board meetings. For more information and an online application, click here or visit

For more information about the Golden Cross Foundation and churches and organizations receiving grant money, contact Kent McNish, executive director of The Golden Cross Foundation at or 615-479-6175. To receive Golden Cross Connections, a free bi-monthly enewsletter highlighting recent Golden Cross Foundation grants and activity, contact