Helping churches facing financial crisis

Everence, MCC U.S. and MDS join together to provide grants

The Evangelical Garifuna Church of Manhattan has been dedicated to serving their community since it started. Pictured is the 2019 Thanksgiving meal for church attenders and the wider community around the church. Even though the church is not meeting in person right now, due to COVID-19, the leadership team is helping provide groceries and support for rent and bills to those who need it. Image provided by Evangelical Garifuna Church of Manhattan.

The COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund, launched in the spring of 2020, is helping under-resourced Anabaptist and related churches make it through the pandemic.

As congregations gave up gathering for worship in person as they tried to stop coronavirus from spreading, many also saw deep declines in donations flowing in to support their ministries.
And that happened at the same time demand for assistance rose, as more and more jobs disappeared because of pandemic-caused shutdowns.

When the pandemic arrived in the U.S., the Northeast was hit first. Evangelical Garifuna Church of Manhattan, a Mennonite congregation in New York, experienced COVID-19’s bitter toll earlier than churches in many parts of the country.

Evangelical Garifuna Church of Manhattan has always been dedicated to serving its community. The church had to stop meeting in person, but the leadership team helped provide groceries and support for rent and bills to those who needed it.

Evangelical Garifuna Church of Manhattan received a grant through the COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund so it could provide more support for church members, and to help with rent so the congregation would have a church to come back to.

The COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund was initiated through a partnership between Mennonite Disaster Service, Everence® and Mennonite Central Committee U.S., with a combined $840,000 commitment and more than $180,553 from other donors. By the time the funding was depleted in the spring of 2021, the Fund had distributed 216 grants to churches in 29 states and Puerto Rico. Ten percent of the Fund went to support churches in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, through the Mennonite World Conference Global Sharing Fund.

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Praxis helps to house South Texas

Affordable Homes of South Texas Inc. helps people in need

Leonor Perales opens the door to her new home

Leonor Perales opens the door to her new home. Perales was the first person to get a home through the New Beginnings Program. Photo courtesy of Calvert Impact Capital.

Praxis Mutual Funds® supports organizations like one that provides affordable homes to low-income families.

Affordable Homes of South Texas Inc. has provided homes to more than 3,800 families since it was founded in 1976. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for families in the Rio Grande Valley and surrounding areas.

AHSTI acts as a property developer, general contractor and mortgage company, helping families that would have trouble qualifying for a traditional bank mortgage.
In addition to financial help, the organization offers a multi-cultural, in-house, home-buyer education and development program to all clients.

Leonor Perales, a mother of daughters ages 21, 19 and 12, was the first person to get a home through the New Beginnings Program.

Perales was looking for a way to repair her home when a relative told her about New Beginnings, one of five rehab and replacement home programs run by AHSTI. Perales decided to apply.

“I still cannot believe that we are the first family to benefit from this great program,” she said. “My daughters and I are very excited and grateful for the opportunity they gave us to get a house where we would no longer have any needs.”

Praxis supports organizations such as AHSTI through investments in Calvert Impact Capital, an impact-investing institution that helps people around the world through community development financing. It’s part of the Praxis commitment to place about 1% of each of its funds to benefit neighborhoods and individuals through community development investments.

Do you want your investments to support renewable energy projects, low-income housing, education and other initiatives that benefit the world? Check out the Praxis Impact Bond Fund. Contact your Everence financial professional or call us at 800-977-2947 for more information. 

You should consider the fund’s investment objectives, risks, sales charges and expenses carefully before you invest. The fund’s prospectus and summary prospectus contain this and other information. Please read them carefully before you invest.

Praxis Mutual Funds are advised by Everence Capital Management and distributed through Foreside Financial Services, LLC, member FINRA. Investment products offered are not FDIC insured, may lose value, and have no bank guarantee.

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Growing a quality culture of care

Helping organizations – and donors – make a world of difference

 

Living Branches is committed to create spaces where purpose and joy are developed.
Founded in 1917, Living Branches are dedicated to providing quality, life-enriching services to seniors. The organization employs more than 600 team members across its three campuses in southeastern Pennsylvania, and offers a wide range of housing, support services, and engaging activities for its more than 1,350 residents.

The nonprofit organization is committed walking alongside their residents, offering an environment where they are empowered to lead lives of purpose and joy. But residents sometimes face difficult decisions when an unanticipated challenge places them in a position of financial need.

To help, Living Branches offers their Benevolent Care Program, a ministry offered through Living Branches Foundation that provides grants to residents who, through no fault of their own, can no longer cover the full cost of their care. During fiscal year 2020, some 128 residents benefitted from this program – assistance made possible thanks to the generosity of donors and supporters of Living Branches.

Since 1952, Everence Foundation (an affiliate of Everence) has combined a faithful focus with technical planned giving capabilities, helping thousands of organizations like Living Branches focus on the heart of their missions. Everence also helps donors make an impact for generations to come, through our charitable giving services. To learn more, talk to your Everence financial professional.
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Routine drive takes a frightening turn

Everence health plan aids couple after a serious accident

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It seemed like an ordinary trip to the hardware store when George* climbed into his car and started driving.

But a speeding, out-of-control car crashed head-on into George’s car. Paramedics – and then, hospital doctors and nurses – applied their skills to stabilize George so he’d be ready for surgery, said his wife, Jane*.

Many more procedures and tests followed the first operation to repair broken bones and damaged organs.

Months later, George and Jane are coping with day-to-day challenges, although he is walking again and working on strength and flexibility.

A neuromuscular disease that started after the wreck is another complication.

When Jane sent a donation to the Everence Sharing Fund, she expressed gratitude for how much the couple’s senior health plan from Everence has helped.

“Without the integrity of our Everence Medicare supplemental insurance, perhaps we would not be in the good place we are in, or perhaps we would be bankrupted by medical costs,” Jane wrote.

Visit everence.com/medsupp or call us at 800-348-7468 for information about senior health plans.

*Not their real names

Walking with pastors on the journey ahead

Pastoral Financial Wellness Program addresses unique challenges

 

For new pastors, serving a congregation – while also earning a relatively small income and coping with student loan debt (undergraduate and seminary) – can be a challenging balance.

Stories like this, and many others about the unique financial challenges that pastors face, remind us how pastors give so much of their time and talents into ministry, often with lean resources and significant financial challenges. If left unaddressed, these challenges can put unimaginable stress on their personal and ministerial health and wholeness.

Everence wanted to give pastors more confidence for the journey ahead, so we established our Pastoral Financial Wellness Program, with funding assistance from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Since 2016, more than 300 pastors serving Anabaptist and other related churches have received direct financial assistance grants through the program. We’ve seen some powerful outcomes.

Want to know more about the Pastoral Financial Wellness Program? Visit everence.com/pastoral-financial-wellness, talk with one of our stewardship consultants, or call us at 800-348-7468 and we’ll be happy to help.

Homes for homeless families

MyNeighbor generates donations to help

Bridge of Hope helps families find solutions to homelessness

Bridge of Hope volunteers not only find homes for families, but (perhaps more importantly) provide love and caring.

Bridge of Hope offers a bridge from homelessness to a decent place to live and a fresh start in life.

The Exton, Pennsylvania-based nonprofit started in 1988 with a vision that originated from several Mennonite churches.

Members of other denominations quickly embraced the organization’s goal of ending family homelessness and stepped forward to get involved.

Bridge of Hope’s volunteers – known as neighboring volunteers – try to find homes for homeless families, but they do something else that’s equally important.

“The biggest thing they do is love on the families,” said Edith Yoder, CEO of Bridge of Hope National. “It’s a relief for them to feel loved and worthwhile and to finally have someone in their corner.”

About 400 neighboring volunteers are scattered around the country, working with 19 Bridge of Hope affiliates in a dozen states.

The Bridge of Hope vision is all about “finding a solution to family homelessness – and specifically, moms and children who are without a place to come home to,” said Yoder.

“Our families are usually single women with kids under 18, but it could be a single dad or a two-parent family,” Yoder said. More than once, Bridge of Hope has encountered a mother and her kids who were living in the mom’s car.

Bridge of Hope tries to find safe and reasonably priced housing for its families. Rental assistance is provided – usually for 6 to 12 months, depending on a family’s needs and goals.

The nonprofit often provides a security deposit and first month’s rent, then gradually decreases the amount it contributes to the family’s monthly rent.

Everence contributed $6,400 to Bridge of Hope in 2020 through our MyNeighbor credit card program.

People who use a MyNeighbor card from Everence Federal Credit Union designate a charity to receive their donations. Everence donates 1.50% of each charge a MyNeighbor cardholder makes to a charity of the cardholder’s choice.

“A number of our supporters found the MyNeighbor card a good way to support us,” said Yoder.