The Blessing Initiative

We have a proposal. It is simple -- and simply bold. Let’s give away $1 million!

That’s right - $1 million, all to projects that dream of doing good in their neighborhood.

We’re here! After a year and a half of dreaming about what God could do in our midst if we discerned with God how best to give away $1 million, it’s time to set the Blessing Initiative fully in motion.

We're so grateful for each of you who cast your vote on the slate of Initiatives candidates. It's been a true joy to learn about each idea, and we hope you've felt the wind of God's Spirit behind each of them. (We know we have.) A total of 314 votes were cast, and upon completing the count, the action by ballot was approved by a near-unanimous total, thus releasing the funding to the four awardees.

On top of that, you voted for these projects to receive an additional bonus - 50% for the first place recipient and 25% for second place. There was no wrong way to go here, and we're delighted to announce that Whitter Wildflowers Preschool gathered the most votes - thus releasing a bonus of $40,000 - and Avivo came right after them, thus releasing a bonus of $37,500.

Now, the real fun begins.

If we're honest, we're getting pretty excited. From high-quality and affordable preschool for kids and families in Minneapolis to mentoring and job training for people coming out of prison to two creative takes on combating housing insecurity in our neighborhoods, we get to see a lot of beautiful Kingdom work take place in a lot of different places and contexts, and we feel so lucky - blessed, really - to begin the long and fruitful work of walking alongside these ideas and organizations: cheering them on, praying for them, and engaging practically with them where it makes sense.

In other words, both the Blessings and Initiatives recipients are now partners of ours. Over the coming weeks, we will begin to mapping out their transition from award recipients to partners. Stay tuned for more info on how to begin engaging with them!

P.S. We still have a fun thing or two up our sleeves for celebrating all 9 of these awards recipients, so also keep in touch on Sunday mornings and in your Colonial Weekly on Wednesdays as that comes together! Not signed up for Colonial Weekly? Get plugged in here.

Volunteer Needs (April 1st, 2021)

From the beginning, our hope with our Blessing Initiative recipients was to find ideas and organizations that could call us into a long-term partnership where we could roll up our sleeves and serve where it made sense.

Are you ready? We've got a few opportunities right out of the gate:

(1) Whittier Wildflowers has a small classroom in need of painting. It'll take 3-5 people working a few hours. Contact Elgin Manhard to find out more. 

(2) Oasis for Youth recently experienced a setback when their resource closet was flooded, leaving them with no choice but to destroy their donations at Oak Grove. For now, we want to come alongside them and fill as many of their emergency needs as possible, which include the following:

  • Microwavable and single-serve food items (soups, ramen, ravioli, etc.)
  • Single serve snacks (chips, trail mix, fruit snacks, beef sticks)
  • Shampoo, conditioner and body wash
  • Dish soap, other household cleaners
  • Toilet paper & paper towels
  • Baby wipes

As you're able from March 31st - April 14th, we invite you to bring these items to a labeled bin by the Connection Corner right by the entrance when you walk in. Contact Jane Wilson with any questions. 

Past Blessing Initiative Updates

BI Announces Five Blessings Award Recipients (February 14, 2021)

We are so grateful and glad to unveil our five Blessings award recipients, each of them receiving $20,000.

Learn more about the recipients by clicking here.
Invitation to Pray (Fall 2020 - Winter 2021)

Pray alongside us.

We received just under 30 applications in all, and each one of them is an idea that's exciting and full of heart. To all who championed or helped to champion one of these ideas — thank you.

You've dreamt with us.

Now, we invite you to pray alongside us.

Would you join us in thanking God for each application — and not just for the idea, but for each person behind it?

And would you join us in praying for discernment for our team of Colonial members — each from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives — as they begin screening each idea?
Applications Close (November 5, 2020)

Thanks for dreaming big with us.

At 11:59pm on November 5th, the window for applications for the Blessing Initiative officially closed.

We've already invested $200,000 in organizations on the frontline of COVID-19 relief, and we're excited to extend the remaining $800,000 to support Spirit-driven ideas and begin a long-term partnership with the organizations behind them.
Applications Open for The Blessing Initiative (September 13, 2020)

Big hearts. Big ideas. It's time to dream together.

So much has changed since you approved $1 million from Foundation for the Blessing Initiative last November.
But some things never change. For 75 years, Colonial has moved toward our neighbors in times of need. And we won't stop now. It's why we pledged $200,000 to missions partners doing COVID-19 relief. And it's why we're calling on you to champion an idea or project that would do good for Christ's sake.

We need champions.

The Blessing Initiative runs on champions who have a dream. They are congregation members with a new cause that would do all kinds of good for Christ's sake, or they know an existing organization that could a lot more with some support. Champions are so excited about the idea that they'll stick with it over the long haul. They're the ones that submit the application and advocate on its behalf.

Is there a champion inside of you?
What cause will you champion? Now is the time to dream big, so bring your biggest dreams and best plans to the table.

Three Values

As you dream, know that we're looking for ideas that match these values:

1—Alignment (Ideas that match the Core Values that emerged out of ReForming)
2—Engagement (Ideas that invite the congregation to roll up their sleeves and participate)
3—Relationship (Ideas that engage the congregation years after they've been funded)

Applications are now open until November 5th. Ready to get started?

The application will take some time and intentionality to put together. So between now and November 5th, here are a few resources to orient you for the journey ahead.
COVID-19 Delays Process, Blessing Initiative Gives $200K to Relief Efforts (April 29, 2020)
The COVID-19 public health crisis dramatically upended our life together in ways that are obvious and difficult to overstate. 

Meanwhile, as the Blessing Initiative team has continued to meet virtually, we have felt stirred by God's Spirit to make a pivot, to fast-track some of the allotted $1 million to meet needs in the fallout of COVID-19. 

In April 2020, the Colonial congregation voted to designate $200,000 to the following frontline organizations: 

Sheridan Story -- $100,000
VEAP -- $50,000
CES -- $25,000
Families Moving Forward -- $25,000

We selected these partners in collaboration with Missions Pastor Paul Bertelson and the Missions Ministry Action Team. We have a rich history with each of the four partners, and we chose them because we believe that they both need the funds and are well-equipped to use them immediately to bring relief to our neighbors in the Twin Cities. Organizations will have these funds by early May 2020.

So what's next?

Before COVID-19 made its presence known in the U.S., we were set to rollout with applications opening in May 2020 with the process concluding in January 2021. 

That timeline is delayed now, but we want you to know that we aren't fully hitting the pause button. Council has affirmed our process, and the entire $1 million has already been transferred from the Foundation to the church.

As a team, we are watching, thinking, and praying. We're keeping our eyes on our global landscape, the local news cycle, and our neighbors both near and far. While our process is delayed indefinitely, we will keep you informed as the process grinds out of its halt.
Council Affirms Process (February 26, 2020)
The Blessing Initiative's process has been affirmed at the most recent Council meeting. The team is eager to continue moving forward. Look for more in the coming weeks about how the overall process will unfold!
Blessing Initiative Process Updates (January 29, 2020)
Since you voted to set aside $1 million to give away in November, the Blessing Initiative team has been moving forward and dreaming for what lies ahead. Here’s our most recent update:

- The Council approved four new members to the Blessing Initiative team: Steve Anderson, Wendy Senior, Rod Stalley and Laura VanderTop. They join Dave Engelbert, Mary Fisher, David Lima, Linda Nyvall, Terese Reiling-Holden and Lance Steinke.

- Brian Jones has been hired as a consultant to the project. His experience in missions and knowledge of Colonial— particularly with Innove, is proving invaluable. We’re grateful that Brian is part of the team.

This team has been meeting weekly, collaborating to create a process that will serve Colonial well. You’ll hear more about the details in the coming weeks. In the meantime, it’s time to start thinking and dreaming!

What mission-related project would you like to see Colonial engage in? What non-profits are you involved with that could benefit from involvement with the Blessing Initiative? Please prayerfully consider how you can be involved with the Blessing Initiative.
Congregation Approves $1 million for The Blessing Initiative (November 24, 2019)
On Sunday, November 24, 2019, the congregation of Colonial Church approved the action of the Colonial Church Council and Colonial Foundation to earmark $1 million of Foundation monies for future mission projects.  At the meeting, attended by over 200 members, comments and questions were heard with an ultimate vote to affirm the motion.  

The Blessing Initiative, a project led by the Ministry Action Team headed by Lance Steinke, will now move forward to develop the process for receiving and screening ideas and proposals which will come from the congregation.  The Church Council has oversight of The Blessing Initiative and will approve the process. The congregation will approve the persons and organizations funded.  

At present, names are being received for those interested in being a part of The Blessing Initiative Team.  Please indicate your interest in serving by sending your name to  As a reminder: no Blessing Initiative Members may submit or advocate for any particular proposal now or into the future. Current Team members include Lance Steinke, Chairperson; David Lima, Terese Holden, Linda Nyvall, David Englebert.