Full Circle
By Paul Bowman, President and CEO, Holston Foundation

One of the greatest joys of being on staff with the Holston Foundation is seeing generosity come full circle from those who give to those who have a need. While our day-to-day work involves many technical and relational aspects of running a well-respected foundation, and we are proud to have a track record of being a good steward through our fiduciary duties to ministry clients, the recent meeting of our grant committee is what I consider to be one of the greatest joys of what we do as an organization. It is when we see the prudent investment strategy of endowments, meetings with charitably minded donors and those who have needs come together to make an impact for Christ.

The grant committee, comprised of Foundation board members and staff, reviewed seventy grant proposals at our annual meeting held on Thursday, May 9 to thoughtfully determine who would receive funding in 2024. It was no easy task to sift through over $400,000 in requests when we only had $219,000 in available funds. Our committee members, representatives from East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia and attending both small and large churches, carefully considered the needs of the ministries who applied this year. Through much discussion and discernment as a committee, we selected 57 ministries to become the Holston Foundation’s 2024 Partners in Stewardship.

Ministries such as community gardens providing fresh vegetables in food deserts, weekend backpacks offering food for children who do not have access to meals outside of free lunches at school, and internships giving opportunities for students working in ministry were funded. Camp in the Community sites received support, as well as a quilting program in Virginia that provides love and comfort to those who need it—the variety of programs funded reflects the many different types of ministries in our region. We wish we could fund every single project, but unfortunately, with limited funds and specific requirements, that is not a possibility at this time.

The grant awarding process is my favorite part of leading the Holston Foundation because it represents the full circle of what we do as an organization. Each year, the funds entrusted to us to prudently invest in a disciplined approach grow, and the donor meetings that Rev. Mark Gooden and I have where individuals decide they want their legacy to “be greater than the distribution of their assets” provide the very funds the grant committee and staff award to the ministries and programs funded by the Holston Foundation. Finally, lives and circumstances are impacted as a result.

I measure the Foundation’s success as an organization by the engagement and success of the ministries and life-changing organizations we partner with in our funding decisions. Serving on the grant committee gives us intimate knowledge of people responding to Matthew 25:35-40. It is an honor to support the work that feeds the hungry, quenches the thirsty, shows hospitality to the stranger, clothes the needy, comforts the sick, and ministers to those who are imprisoned.

Should you have a passion to fund a ministry area in your church, region, or throughout the geography of the Holston Conference, we want to hear from you. Please contact Rev. Mark Gooden (mgooden@holstonfoundation.org) to discuss your passion for ministry. He will help develop the documents that need to be put in place to fund your priorities and vision. Let’s make a difference in the lives of others together.