CER Chalice Lighter Grant Frequently Asked Questions

CER Chalice Lighter Logo

Is your congregation or cluster ready to catch fire with a Chalice Lighter Grant? Learn more.

What is the purpose of the Chalice Lighter Grant Program?

The CER Chalice Lighter Grant Program works to encourage new and existing congregations to grow, both in terms of numbers and in their efforts to increase justice, compassion and spirituality. The grants support the growth of UU congregations of all sizes.

What kinds of church projects are right for a Chalice Lighter grant?

Grants can support four types of projects, including:

  • Church staff, such as hiring a first-time minister, RE professional, or other staff, moving a position from part time to full time, or adding an additional minister or RE professional.
  • Building or land, such as constructing or expanding a church, making major renovations or repairs, or acquiring land for church facilities.
  • New congregation organizing.
  • Innovative growth initiatives, creative projects to help attract or retain members, and promote justice, compassion, and spirituality.

What’s a Cluster grant?

While most applications come from individual congregations, the Committee also welcomes applications from "clusters" of two or more congregations that want to work collaboratively on a regional project to enhance growth.

What size grant can our church apply for?

Most grants are for $20,000. For purchase of land, new buildings or significant increase in space, a double grant of $40,000 may be requested, but in either case, a grant for projects in this category cannot represent more than 20% of the cost of the project.

How are grants paid out?

Grants for land, new buildings and expansion or renovation of existing buildings; grants for innovative/other growth projects; and grants for organizing a new congregation are usually paid in a lump sum. Grants for other purposes, such as hiring church staff, are typically paid out monthly over three years (50% the first year, 30% the second, and 20% the third).

How do I apply for a Chalice Lighter grant?

When can I apply for a Chalice Lighter grant?

  • If your Intent to Apply form is received by June 1, your full application is due August 1, and reviewed in September.
  • If your Intent to Apply form is received by October 1, your full application is due December 1, and reviewed in January.
  • If your Intent to Apply form is received by January 2, the full application is due March 1, and reviewed in April.

What makes a successful Chalice Lighter grant application?

  • A clear plan and budget for an initiative or project that will enhance growth of the congregation, cluster or region in numbers as well as in justice, compassion and spirituality.
  • A long-range strategic plan showing how this initiative will be sustained and how it fits into the mission of the congregation or cluster that is applying for the grant.
  • Information on current or planned programs on anti-racism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism.
  • Benchmarks to evaluate the success of the project.
  • Honor Congregation status in the UUA Annual Program Fund. In special circumstances the committee may consider a waiver of this requirement.
  • Support for the Chalice Lighter Program by pledging to appoint a Chalice Lighter Ambassador, and work to have a minimum 20% of members enrolled as Chalice Lighters. Preference is given to congregations that meet these requirements prior to applying.

How are Chalice Lighter grants reviewed and decided?

After you have submitted a full grant application, the committee will meet to review all the applications received in the same grant cycle and determine which to fund. Soon afterward, your assigned Grant Manager will be in touch with the Project Manager from your congregation to share the committee's decision. Your church also will receive a written letter as notification of the committee's decision.

If our grant is approved, what happens next?

If the grant is awarded, the Project Manager will make payout arrangements with the Grant Manager and CER Financial Manager.

If our congregation’s grant is not approved, can we reapply?

If your grant is not approved, your Grant Manager can provide feedback on your application and the Committee's decision. Your Grant Manager also can comment on whether the project may be resubmitted for consideration after suggested changes are made.

What grant reports are needed if we receive a Chalice Lighter grant?

If your congregation is awarded a Chalice Lighter grant, you are expected to provide a grant report after six months and an annual grant report for each year over the life of the project, including information about the results and changes in attendance figures over time. Due dates for grant reports will be included in the formal grant award letter that will be mailed to the church shortly after the Chalice Lighter grant review meeting.

How can our church help to keep the Chalice Lighter Program strong?

Please help us to recruit new contributors and build awareness of the Chalice Lighter program. For example, members of your congregation can help organize Chalice Lighter Sunday or other programs to encourage people to sign up to become Chalice Lighters.

Need more information or have questions?

Contact the CER Chalice Lighter Program Committee and Cristina Sanchis, CER Financial Manager, at chalicelighters@cerguua.org