Every day, thousands of people flee their homes in search of a better life for their families. Global Ministries and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) provide support for refugees and migrants around the world, seeking to fulfill the biblical mandate to “love thy neighbor” and “welcome the stranger.”

Tiny mustard seeds, as Jesus described in his parable, have a potential to grow into something big or pervasive that spreads throughout a field. Our hope is that by learning more about migrants in local communities and addressing their needs through these grants, the “seed” of welcoming strangers might be planted in new ways in congregations around the country.

What is the Mustard Seed Migration program?

The Mustard Seed Migration Grant program is designed to encourage local United Methodist churches to engage in ministry to migrants in their midst. UMCOR will award grants of $2,000 USD to up to 100 United Methodist local churches in the U.S. to engage in new, one-time community-based service projects and ministries focused on migrants and refugees.

The goal of this program is to nurture a deeper understanding and care for the most vulnerable in our communities. We also encourage participating congregations to think about what they might do on a long-term basis, how they might get involved in advocacy to address systemic injustices present in immigration policy or consider how they might more completely live into a new understanding of church as the kingdom of God, actively engaged in caring for the most vulnerable in the community. 

The 2024 application is Open. Apply Now.

Completed applications will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. We encourage churches to submit their applications as soon as possible, since awards will be given on a first-come first-served basis. Applicants will be notified within four weeks of the application submission date. Submit a completed, signed application via email to mustardseed@umcor.org.

Project examples

Some examples of Mustard Seed Migration Grant projects might include, but are not limited to, the following.

  • Providing food or nonfood items for basic needs
  • Supporting school enrollment through parent outreach or purchase of school supplies
  • Equipping children with musical or sports equipment to facilitate extracurricular involvement
  • Offering English, financial literacy or civics classes for adult learners or tutoring for students
  • Supplying families with cash vouchers for emergency rent, utilities or transportation assistance
  • Facilitating access to internet through provision of cell phones, laptops or internet access
  • Distributing bicycles for transportation assistance
  • Assisting a newly arrived refugee family in setting up their new apartment

Program criteria

  • Aligns with UMCOR’s mission and vision
  • Engages the congregation in implementation of the project
  • Serves refugees and migrants, whether those migrants are refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, trafficked persons, stateless persons, or economic and environmental migrants
  • Identifies and responds to a localized and specific problem or fills a specific need or gap in services
  • Is informed by the refugees and migrants they are serving
  • Is feasible given the partner’s capacity, background, expertise, staffing, infrastructure, existing partnerships, and proposed budget
  • Must be completed within six months
  • Does not exceed a budget of $2,000 USD

Application instructions

Only local United Methodist churches in the U.S. are eligible for this grant. The grant proposal must be for a congregational project based in the church’s local community.

  • All sections must be completed, and information should be clear and concise. 
  • When completing the application, please be sure to address the program, especially the requirement for congregational implementation of the project and exactly how refugees/migrants will be selected separate and apart from their relationship with the church or Christianity, and how the refugees/migrants will benefit from this project. 
  • Grants are intended for new activities in your local community, not for pre-existing programs of the local church.
  • Applications must be signed by senior pastor and lay leader of the local church.

For more information, please contact: mustardseed@umcor.org.

See the list of 2023 Mustard Seed Migration Grant recipients here.

Select Mustard Seed Grant Recipients

Meet spiritual and physical needs

In Texas, El Principe de Paz UMC of Del Rio was able to meet immediate spiritual and physical needs of refugee families with the support of an UMCOR Mustard Seed Migration Grant.

Provide clothing

Emory Fellowship, a United Methodist congregation in Washington, D.C., hosted a free clothing shopping event for 100 migrant families at a local school with an UMCOR Mustard Seed Migration Grant.

Provide Transportation

With a Mustard Seed Migration Grant, a coalition of United Methodist churches in Albany, New York provided transportation to refugee families for employment, shopping and general transportation through their Bicycles for Refugees program.

Provide sanctuary

Wesley Memorial UMC in Charlottesville, VA, has provided sanctuary to María Shavalan Sut since 2018. Through an UMCOR Mustard Seed Migration Grant, the church was able to help María, an Indigenous Mayan woman who fled Guatemala in 2015, launch a catering business and become more financially stable and self-sufficient.