Annual Report

Golden Cross Foundation Annual Report 2020

The Golden Cross Foundation (GCF), a ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church, awarded more than $100,000 to churches and organizations throughout the conference in 2019. Money from the grants has been used toward starting an iPad pilot project for older adults, retrofitting churches with ramps and lifts, broadening an older adult choir’s outreach to the surrounding community, providing financial assistance for feeding ministries and older adult ministry programs, and helping launch an intergenerational home sharing program.

“You might say the foundation exists to give money away,” said GCF Chairperson Charles Hewgley. “Each year members of the GCF board gather to review and approve grant requests from UM churches and organizations throughout the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church.”

In 2019, 18 grants were awarded ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Several churches receiving grant money applied it toward feeding ministries. Members at Leeville United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee, expanded their SALT (Serving at the Lord’s Table) food pantry so they could increase the number of food boxes volunteers deliver to low-income seniors.

“Most food pantries require recipients to come to them,” said SALT pantry coordinator Joyce Gaines. “SALT volunteers deliver boxes of food twice a month to more than 100 households. Senior adults frequently have difficulty getting to the grocery store due to health problems, limited mobility, and/or lack of transportation. In addition, fixed incomes, medication costs, unexpected repairs, and high utility bills mean seniors can’t always keep food in their pantries. Our vision is that no senior in Wilson County will go hungry.”

Other churches applied grant money toward retrofitting their churches with new ramps, lifts, and improved parking lots to increase accessibility and make older buildings and facilities ADA compliant. The improvements also make older adult worshippers feel welcomed and valued. In some cases, the upgrades encouraged members to return to church.

Grant money is also being used by churches and organizations for new and innovative programs. Members of Madison Street UMC in Clarksville, Tennessee, used their grant money to help fund an iPad pilot project for older adults and the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee (COA) is developing an intergenerational home sharing program.

“Older adults have become isolated because many church communications—newsletters, schedules, and other church information—are now distributed electronically,” said Aleeta Christian, chair of Madison Street UMC’s Electronic Train team. “Many older adults do not have access to or the skill to use electronic devices. They may also lack funds to purchase devices due to living on fixed incomes.”

In early 2019, the church offered workshops to interested older adults to introduce them to the iPads and select recipients. To qualify for an iPad, persons needed to be 62+ years old that did not have an iPad, and who would commit to attending training sessions and donate $100 in matching funds.

“Learning to use an iPad and keyboard is not easy for anyone, especially older adults who have few experiences with newer electronic devices,” said Christian. “Sometimes it was hard and frustrating to all—participants, leaders, and Electronic Train team members—but overall it was very gratifying. Older adults can learn new things. It was so fun watching that happen.”

Golden Cross Foundation grant money is being used by Council on Aging staff to help organize and launch an intergenerational home sharing program in the greater Nashville area. Projected to launch in fall 2020, the program will help address the lack of affordable housing and negative health impacts of social isolation by matching older adults who want to stay in their homes with graduate students or other eligible adults who need affordable rent. TSU Wesley Foundation and Gordon Memorial UMC are partners in this mission.

In 2019, grants were given to churches of all sizes including 40-member Kynett UMC in Sparta, Tennessee, and 1,138-member Calvary UMC in Nashville. Recipients were:

Burton Chapel UMC


Calvary UMC


Christ UMC-McMinnville


Council on Aging of Middle TN


Elder's Chapel UMC


First UMC Gainesboro


First UMC Lawrenceburg


First UMC Mt. Pleasant


Gordon Memorial UMC


Key Stewart UMC


Kynett UMC


LaVergne First UMC


Leeville UMC


Little Lot UMC


Mt. Union UMC


Scott UMC


Smith Chapel UMC


Statesville UMC



Since 2013 more than $487,000 in grant money has been awarded to 48 UM churches and organizations.

“If your church wants to start or expand an older adult ministry or you want to retro fit your building to make it more accessible, safe, and welcoming, we encourage you to apply” said Golden Cross Foundation Executive Director Kent McNish.

For more information and an online application, visit or contact Kent McNish at or 615-479-6175. To receive Golden Cross Connections, a free bi-monthly e-newsletter highlighting recent Golden Cross Foundation grants and activity, contact