Empower Sioux Falls is set to officially begin operations following a Kickoff Luncheon on Tuesday, August 16, at 11:30 a.m. at Abiding Savior Free Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls. The luncheon is for local pastors and church leaders.
Empower Sioux Falls is a new program offered by the Sioux Falls Ministry Center. It strives to bring local Christian churches together to significantly increase the impact of the Church in bringing hope to those in poverty. The desire of the program is to encourage Christians to make an even bigger impact in our community.
"We believe a greater impact can be made in our city when churches unite together to serve,” said Rich Merkouris, who is the senior pastor at King of Glory Church and also a member of the Empower Sioux Falls Steering Committee. “Churches are currently doing a ton of good in our community. We want to increase that impact."
That impact was aided recently when Empower Sioux Falls received a financial gift of $145,000 from two anonymous donors. The gift will help with start-up and administrative costs during the next 18 months.
The concept for Empower Sioux Falls began in the fall of 2015 at a meeting of the Hope Coalition. At that meeting, Sioux Falls Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Maher highlighted some statistics that were concerning to some of the faith leaders in attendance. One figure that stood out was that nearly half of the elementary school aged children did not express much hope for their future.
In response, 22 congregational leaders met and expressed a desire to explore ways to increase their collective impact. Empower Sioux Falls was formed as a collaborative effort to enhance each church’s impact by improving the education, collaboration and coordination of congregations. In January a steering committee was formed and over the next seven months, the group met six times to establish the framework for Empower Sioux Falls.
According to Merkouris, the steering committee has fulfilled its purpose. Presently, a leadership team of four to six leaders from different area churches is being formed. He indicated that there is a desire to have representation from various denominations as well as different church sizes.
By having churches rally around the values that unite them, the potential for community impact is great.
"In a couple of years we will hopefully see more Christians engaged in relationship with people who are struggling in our city,” Merkouris said. “We believe there is more needed than just monetary donations to overcome our poverty challenges. We need people of faith building deeper personal relationships."