unconventional pilgrims

growing new experiences in faith-based community

Do you have an idea for building welcoming, inclusive community?
Would up to $20,000 help get your idea off the ground?

Charlotte’s Holy Covenant United Church of Christ is looking for fresh ideas for 21st-century ministry — and we think of ministry in very broad terms. This fall, we plan to award a total of $20,000 for one or more one-time grants for innovative ministries and/or programs in one of 23 counties of the Western NC Association of the United Church of Christ.*  Funding will be provided from our progressive church’s Pilgrim Legacy Fund, and grantees must represent a recognized church or nonprofit organization. For more details, see below.

If you have a great idea, we want to hear about it!


In the 1960s, a group of south Charlotte families formed Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ — the third UCC church established in the city since Holy Covenant’s predecessor church was formed downtown in 1906. First meeting in a school, then in a donated house, the congregation eventually built a sanctuary on its property and leased the original house to an active recovery community. Over the years, Pilgrim was served by a succession of pastors — but by the early 2000s, the congregation had grown smaller and its membership older. In 2012, Pilgrim merged its congregation with Holy Covenant; and in 2015, the merged congregations closed and sold the south Charlotte property, with the understanding that 90% of the net sales proceeds would be set aside to establish The Pilgrim Legacy Fund — an endowment whose earnings would help fund new ministry, initially in south Charlotte. The first round of grants in 2018 funded three diverse new ministry/community-building programs, with 2019 seeing a renewed grant for one of those programs. Going forward, The Pilgrim Legacy Fund expects to offer smaller, one-time grants across a wider geography.


The members of Holy Covenant UCC gathered on more than one occasion to consider the vision for new ministry, and refined the non-negotiables for grants from The Pilgrim Legacy Fund. The final list isn’t long, but it’s critical. Any new ministry or program the fund supports must share Holy Covenant’s values of —

  • social justice
  • equality
  • creation care
  • peacemaking
  • inclusion — racial, gender, LGBTQ
  • radical welcome
  • interfaith understanding

That’s not to say a new ministry or program must focus on all of these values — but successful proposals will be guided by and attentive to these non-negotiable values wherever relevant in the potential grantee’s mission and program. To learn more, visit Holy Covenant’s website and that of the United Church of Christ.


Proposals/applications for grants will only be accepted via the online application available here.
FUNDING PROVIDED: early September

The field for proposals remains open to a broad range of innovative ideas, whether establishing a new program or expanding an existing initiative.

  • All proposals are expected to reflect the values of the United Church of Christ — values that include social justice, equality, creation care, peacemaking, inclusion, radical welcome and interfaith understanding.
  • While the sponsoring church lives in the Christian tradition, ecumenical, interfaith and community-building proposals are welcome.
  • Grants may be offered in any amount up to $20,000, at Holy Covenant UCC’s sole discretion. Grant amounts offered will be based on a range of factors, including the scope of the project and the experience of project leadership.
  • All grants will be awarded for one year, though new applications for renewal may be made for two successive years.
  • Funded grantees will be expected to report to Holy Covenant UCC as requested, and at least annually by late October.
  • Final grant recipients will be expected to acknowledge the source of their funding.
  • Proposal criteria and guidelines may be revised without notice by Holy Covenant UCC.

How will your idea bring positive change to the world?


Link to Grant Proposal formProposals must be submitted via our online application. All questions must be completed and required documents uploaded by the deadline. Late applications will not be considered.

Click the image at right to get started!


If you have questions, please email us here.
Church staff and members will not be prepared to respond to questions, and messages will not be accepted.

Buncombe, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Catawba, Davidson, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Henderson, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Monroe, Montgomery, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Stanley, Watauga, Yadkin — and Carroll county in Virginia

©2019 Holy Covenant United Church of Christ • 3501 WT Harris Blvd • Charlotte NC 28269