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Wesleyan Impact Partners Announces 2023 Locke Innovative Leader Award Recipients

Mar 1, 2023

AUSTIN – March 1, 2023

Wesleyan Impact Partners, a national nonprofit fueled by impact investors, borrowers, and philanthropists investing in ministries and innovative leaders, announces its 2023 Locke Innovative Leader Award recipients. These four spiritual entrepreneurs exemplify the award’s aim to honor innovative leaders who have taken risks to bring about a better world where more people know God’s love.

Each Locke Innovative Leader Award recipient receives a $50,000 cash stipend and an invitation to participate in a facilitated cohort to nurture their spirit and ideas over the coming years. To date, Wesleyan Impact Partners has invested more than $700,000 in Locke Innovative Leaders.

“These courageous leaders have made incredible sacrifices to bring God’s dreams to fruition and some of those sacrifices are financial. This no-strings-attached award is a gift that we hope communicates our enthusiasm and gratitude for their innovative leadership and positive impact in their communities,” said Maggie Jackson, Wesleyan Impact Partners board chair. “By spotlighting these extraordinary individuals, we hope to learn from them and their stories. The questions they are asking and their approaches to ministry are inspiring and Spirit-led, which helps the church imagine ministry in new ways.”

This year’s recipients are creating communities where houseless persons are housed and holistically cared for, where Black single mothers receive financial support and training to launch small businesses, where marginalized voices and eco-justice are raised up in a congregation, and where impact investors work with church leaders to invest in underfinanced communities and address structural inequalities.

The 2023 Locke Innovative Leaders are:

  • Rev. Michael Gienger, Pastor, Galveston Central Church. Galveston, Texas. Known for his tenacious solidarity with the poor, Gienger has led Galveston Central Church to become a truly missional community focused on partnering with organizations to meet the needs of homeless neighbors. He has implemented a new approach to addressing homelessness in the city by securing a dormitory to begin a housing-first program.

  • Rev. Alisha Gordon, Founder and Executive Director, The Current Project. New York City, New York. Through the Current Project, Gordon is helping Black single mothers get small businesses off the ground by providing them with financial support and training so that they may ultimately “create space for economic stability and social liberation.”

  • Rev. Tyler Sit, Pastor, New City Church and Co-Founder Intersect Planting Network. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sit planted New City Church to be a reflection of the vision from Revelation of a new city where all tribes are welcomed, there is no more violence, and the earth is renewed. The now seven-year-old congregation led by BIPOC leaders is focused on centering marginalized voices, community organizing, and eco-justice.

  • Rev. Dr. Sidney Williams, President & CEO, Crossing Capital Group and Pastor, Bethel AME Church. Morristown, New Jersey. Through his FISHing Differently framework, Williams helps congregations and nonprofits re-imagine physical assets and engage with potential impact investors to build or improve buildings and fund ministry programs, accelerate growth and development in underfinanced communities, and address structural inequities.

The Locke Innovative Leader Award exemplifies the commitment Wesleyan Impact Partners has to embolden the entrepreneurial spirit of leaders and increase spiritual innovation across the church. The organization recently changed its name from Wesleyan Impact Partners to Wesleyan Impact Partners to better reflect the organization's longstanding commitment to impact and partnership.

“We are bringing investors, borrowers, and philanthropists together to create a better world,” said Rev. Lisa Greenwood, Wesleyan Impact Partners president. “Together, we are investing in leaders and congregations who are helping individuals thrive and communities flourish. Locke Innovative Leader Award recipients are a large part of this Spirit-led movement that is raising the voices of mission-driven innovators leading the church in new ways, drawing new people into Christ’s loving work in the world.”

Each honoree will be celebrated in a live streamed event on Sunday, April 30 at 7 pm CT / 8 pm ET. To attend the live stream event, visit To learn about prior Locke Innovative Leader Award recipients, visit

About Wesleyan Impact Partners

Wesleyan Impart Partners is a national nonprofit fueled by impact investors, borrowers, and philanthropists that invests in ministries and innovative leaders courageously doing God’s work in the world – partnering in a Spirit-led movement to bring about human flourishing grounded in love, generosity and belonging. Over the course of its 50 plus-year history, Wesleyan Impact Partners has made thousands of loans totaling more than half a billion dollars, empowering churches across the United States to pursue their God-sized dreams. The work is made possible through partnerships with impact-focused investors, donors, and Methodist foundations across the country. Based in Austin, Texas, the organization is led by President Lisa Greenwood, who is also the President of Texas Methodist Foundation.