City Mission receives a Lilly Endowment Inc. Grant

We’ve received a grant of $774,251 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish The Urban Pastoral Ministry Program (UPMP) and support the development, growth, and empowerment of Christian pastors in urban ministry.

UPMP is a program to prepare a cohort of four recent seminary graduates (residents) for urban ministry in a two-year immersion experience. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.

The UPMP goals are to support new pastors with mentoring by experienced pastors who are leaders in their communities and across Boston, assist individual pastors in developing a practice-centered theology of pastoral ministry in an urban setting, train the residents for engagement in the public square and for building congregational capacity for community engagement and advocacy, and expose residents to the study of the evolving relationship between church and its urban surroundings. 

“Through this program, City Mission seeks to help prepare a new generation of Christian pastors to heed the call to serve our cities,” said City Mission Executive Director Rev. June R. Cooper. “As Eleanor Scott Meyers states in her book, Envisioning the New City, ‘The task of envisioning a new city through the ministry of city churches relies on a strategy of reconnecting with neighborhoods and people through networking and community organizing. New visions in our church for cities and for ministry in turn rely on new education programs for ministerial leadership.’ City Mission is ready to bring this vision to life.”

The UPMP curriculum will guide residents to a deeper understanding of the context, relationships, methodological questions, and theological framework of social justice work in urban ministry.

“The curriculum will introduce residents to methodologies of community organizing and partnership development for reducing poverty and promoting social change that makes City Mission an effective agent for transformation in the greater Boston area,” Cooper said.

Residents in the program will gain experience in urban ministry and the skills to develop and lead thriving urban congregations. They will serve as active ministerial staff, one at each church, at four well-established congregations in Boston: Bethel A.M.E. Church, Fourth Presbyterian Church in South Boston, First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, and Old South Church in Boston.

“Old South Church is thrilled to partner with City Mission for this cutting edge, practical, gritty, roll-up-our-sleeves, into-the-streets training for promising ministers,” said Senior Pastor and CEO: The Rev. Dr. Nancy Taylor. “We are honored to be shaping the next generation of urban pastors.”

Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grantmaking priority at Lilly Endowment for nearly 25 years.

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including City Mission’s Urban Pastoral Ministry Program, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

City Mission has moved!

Recently, we signed a lease on beautiful office space at 185 Columbia Road in Dorchester. With the expanded space of our new location as well as the added amenities, we will be closer to the community in which we are involved. We will be sharing space with Catholic Charities, which delivers adult education, child care, support for basic needs, and counseling for families in Dorchester and beyond. City Mission’s focus on preventing family homelessness is an ideal match for these services.

In our most recent strategic plan, City Mission identified that our Beacon Hill location was no longer serving our programs as well as it once had. We understood that moving will make possible new ways of engaging with and empowering our community. We cannot wait to see how that vision bears fruit once we’re settled in. 

Even as we rejoice in this new chapter in City Mission’s history, we are sad to say goodbye to the Congregational House, the building that has been our home since its construction in 1898. More than a place simply for desks, files and the day-to-day work of City Mission, the building represents a physical and lively connection to our historic congregational roots in Boston, and a community of friends and colleagues who have true hearts for justice and inclusion. 14 Beacon has been a blessing both for our organization and for our city. We will miss it.

We will complete the move at the end of August, and there will be many opportunities to celebrate this change and give thanks for our long tenure at 14 Beacon Street in the months to come. Please stay tuned!

200 Acts of Service

Celebrating City Mission’s 200th Anniversary

As City Mission takes the next year to recognize “a good 200 years of good,” we want to celebrate the spirit of partnership that makes our work possible by inviting congregations, community organizations, and other friends to complete 200 Acts of Service over the next year. We’ll use this opportunity to connect with the great work of our congregational and nonprofit partners and continue this collective legacy of service forward. Anyone with an interest in serving others should participate; we hope you will read the information below and join us!

How it works

  1. Complete an act of service between now and March 2017. Take a photo of your work!

  2. “Like” City Mission’s page on Facebook

  3. Publish a post on your congregation’s or organization’s Facebook page (and/or your own) with the photo and the tag #CityMission200years200acts. If you don’t have Facebook, you can send your photo and a description of the act to

  4. City Mission will share highlights of the acts of service on its own Facebook page, keep track as we approach our goal of 200 acts, and celebrate the campaign at our anniversary gala in the spring of 2017.

What’s an act of service?

Over the past 200 years, service has taken many forms at City Mission. From teaching neighborhood children at Sabbath Schools in our early days to preventing homelessness in Boston’s families today service at City Mission has meant meeting the changing needs of our community in creative ways, while continually seeking opportunities that offer mutuality and empowerment. We hope that the 200 Acts of Service will be similarly diverse, and that you will use this call to deepen some act of service that you already do, or try something new. Read more about City Mission’s history by clicking here.

If you are stuck, here are some great places to start:

  1. Hold a fundraiser and contribute the funds to help City Mission support their ongoing programs.

  2. Host a sock drive and collect white socks that can be donated to City Mission for one of our partner agencies that serves the needs of people who are homeless.

  3. Collect items and assemble Spread the Joy bags or welcome baskets. See instructions here .

  4. Register a group to serve with Boston Immersion.

  5. Coordinate a group to volunteer with one of our partner schools. Contact for more information.

  6. Make fleece scarves, blankets or hats to donate to those in need. We collect these items year round.

  7. Sign up to host a coat party for COAT BOSTON.

  8. To celebrate our 200th birthday consider celebrating your birthday by encouraging friends and family to donate to City Mission in your honor.

  9. Collect and donate non-perishable food items to City Mission which will be donated to the food pantry of the Chittick Elementary School.

  10. Collect backpacks and fill them with school supplies. These are donated to local schools so that children who are homeless will have the needed supplies.

 You can find a flyer for the 200 Acts of Service campaign here.

Worship Resource Materials

Dear Friend of City Mission,

We are delighted to invite you to join us in celebrating "a good 200 years of good". We are 200 years young!  Throughout this year of 200th anniversary events, we are highlighting our renewed sense of urgency in addressing poverty by preventing family homelessness.  Our newly streamlined mission to "catalyze action to root out poverty in our neighborhoods" and strategic direction to prevent homelessness are guided by three principles: empowerment, education and engagement.

Between January 2016 and April 2017 City Mission will remember its past and affirm its future with a collection of 200th Anniversary programs and events designed to energize our work for justice and to recommit ourselves to confront the challenges that we, and the people we serve, are facing in our communities.

In order to do this, we need your support and prayers! Here is what we ask of you:

  • Schedule a City Mission Celebration between now and April 2017

  • Host a worship service focused on City Mission and our efforts to prevent family homelessness

  • Invite a Public Voice Speaker to speak during and or after a worship service

  • Look fort the link below for Worship Resources that will be periodically updated

  • Highlight our work in your newsletter

  • Create a link to our website and "Like" City Mission on Facebook

Mark your calendar and plan to join us for upcoming events

Finally, please remember that City Mission staff, board members, and volunteers are available to lead a coffee hour presentation, offer a testimony and or a sermon in worship. Please let us know when you plan your observance. We would like to add the date of your worship celebration to our calendar.

Praise be to God as we celebrate and enter a third century of ministry together.

Rev. June R Cooper
Executive Director