Sharing the Love: COVID-19 Grant Helps Churches Love their CommunitiesOthers, Community Development
Contributed by: World Renew
The COVID-19 pandemic may have closed physical church doors for a time, but there continue to be creative, inspiring, and cooperative opportunities for churches to reach out in Christ’s name to those affected by this crisis.
One of these opportunities is a Canadian partnership between World Renew and Diaconal Ministries Canada. In response to COVID-19, World Renew and Diaconal Ministries have partnered together to offer small grants of up to $5,000 to deacons of local churches who have plans in place to partner with other ministries in their community to respond to a COVID-19 need.
World Renew and Diaconal Ministries have a shared vision for encouraging congregations to address the short and long-term needs of people living in situations of poverty, injustice, or crisis. The challenges of COVID-19 have further deepened these crises in many Canadian communities. As COVID-19 shutdowns began, both agencies recognized that a grant could help equip deacons and churches to support vulnerable people in their local communities and beyond.
As churches carry out ministry with support from a grant, they are also generously making the most of their own resources—time, funds, skills, and gifts in-kind—as they share God’s love.
Providing meals for vulnerable families and individuals is a shared mission for several of the churches receiving grants through World Renew.
The Bridge church plant in Fergus, Ontario is supporting local community outreach through its CW (Centre Wellington) Meals to Go program — a collaborative initiative of mostly Christians from across Centre Wellington that is administered by two pastors and a representative of The Bridge. The grant will help to support The Bridge as it equips volunteers to coordinate with a local restaurant to safely drop off meals for families in need.
Church members are hoping that this program will challenge other churches, service organizations, and businesses to partner with local restaurants forced to close in order to help feed the community. The Bridge is also looking for other in-kind donations from local community members who may be self-isolating but have the resources and desire to help.
“We seek collaboration with churches and other volunteers and we desire to not only bless those on the margins, without making them dependent, [but also to] partner with local businesses in order to broaden the load which we know will get dramatically larger very shortly,” said Pastor John Vanderstoep of The Bridge.
East Hill Community Church in Vernon, British Columbia is supporting local community outreach to the local street population with support from a grant –which was made possible through a generous donation from a congregation of the Reformed Church of America — and the church’s own funds.
Prior to COVID-19, members of Vernon’s street population were able to receive meals from the local mission on weekdays, but not on weekends. For the past eight months, East Hill Community Church has partnered with a local organization that provides meals on the weekend for the homeless population, supplying over 100 meals per night. Now the local mission has been mostly closed down for medical and safety reasons.
The grant will be used to help pay for food and hygiene supplies. Members of the church and other members of the community take great joy in being able to deliver homemade meals and providing hygiene supplies through a mobile meal service. The best part, however, is the relationships they have built with individuals and families using these services.
“Our organization has picked up the slack, and now is serving meals every day instead of just on the weekends. As a result, the weekly budget for this ministry has more than doubled,” explained Steve Ensing, a Deacon/Treasurer at East Hill Community Church.
“Our diaconate provides some financial support, but the majority of support [before COVID-19 was] coming from a local business that has also been shut down by COVID-19, leading to some pretty serious strain on being able to financially continue this mission.”