COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund distributes most of initial funding
Nearly $800,000 distributed to under-resourced Anabaptist and related churches
GOSHEN, Ind. – In just over a month, the COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund has distributed more than $735,000 to 159 churches in the United States facing critical financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Launched on April 13, 2020, the COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund was seeded with a combined $800,000 commitment from Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), Everence® and Mennonite Central Committee U.S. (MCC U.S.).
“Collaboratively, we assist churches that might not be able to recover from this global emergency,” explained Kevin King, MDS Executive Director. “We particularly wanted to support racially and ethnically diverse churches with historic roots or relationships with the Anabaptist faith community, serving in historically under-resourced communities.”
Following the Fund’s launch, Everence Foundation (the Fund’s administrator) received more than 360 applications in just a few short weeks, all of which were reviewed by a special committee with representation from MDS, Everence and MCC. Some of the churches that received grants include:
- The Evangelical Garifuna Church of Manhattan (New York), to support church members and help maintain their congregation’s rent payments.
- Iglesia Menonita Casa Betania (Newtown, Kansas), to help church members with rent and access to personal hygiene and household items.
- Iglesia Menonita Nuevo Amanecer (Brownsville, Texas), to help relieve the stress and mental anguish the pandemic is causing undocumented families in the congregation.
- Ministerio Internacionál Fuego en la Palabra (Hialeah Gardens, Florida), to cover rent so the congregation can continue worshiping in their church building.
- Iglesia Hermanos Menonita West Park (Fresno, California) and Iglesia de la Comunidad (Raisin City, California), to provide food and utilities for members, salary for an assistant pastor who hasn’t been paid during the pandemic, and social programs to help community members.
On top of the initial seed money, individuals and congregations have donated some $18,500 to the Fund thus far, helping to extend and multiply future funding to those confronted with greater pandemic-related challenges than themselves.
“The generosity across our faith communities is overwhelming,” said Ken Hochstetler, Everence President and CEO. “Whether through local church, charitable organizations or denominational initiatives or the COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund, we are grateful for the many expressions of modern-day mutual aid happening in the midst of crisis.”
The remaining 10% of the Fund was distributed to support churches in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, through the Mennonite World Conference Global Sharing Fund.
“Supporting the MWC Global Sharing Fund through this intentional tithe is another way for us to further help the most vulnerable populations hit hardest by the coronavirus,” said J Ron Byler, MCC U.S. Executive Director. “All of this is done out of our call to love and serve all who are part of the body of Christ.”
Although the initial funding is depleted, the COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund remains open. Churches may submit applications for consideration as more funds become available. Individuals and churches wishing to donate to the Fund may do so online at mds.mennonite.net/covid-19-donations. Checks may be mailed to Everence Foundation, Attn: COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund, PO Box 483, Goshen, IN 46527. Additional donation and application information may be found at everence.com/COVID-19-congregational-relief-fund.