Resources Collected by the Commission on Thriving Congregations
Don’t Forget About Your Neighbors
This is a strange time for everyone. And this is one of those times when it’s easy for us to say, “Well, we need to stay apart so there’s no way to do mission. No point in even trying.” I mean, sure, that’s probably a normal knee-jerk reaction. But isn’t this precisely the time when our neighbors need us? Children are out of school, which means that a significant portion of them aren’t receiving the food they need to thrive. Children are out of school which means parents may not be able to go to the job that keeps them afloat or may not be able to work the hours they need. Businesses are shut down, raising fears that they may fold, workers might lose their jobs, and people won’t get paid – which can mean the difference between health and hunger. People are lonely, and they may not have the community that we have. And on top of that, individuals who look like they might be from China are the victims of an increasing number of hate crimes.
One of the most important things for churches going through redevelopment is building new relationships with the neighbors that surround them. For all of our churches, this is a time to get creative about how we love each other as Christ loved us. Clearly, we can’t go out and serve the way that we normally would, yet our congregational vitality and our neighbors might depend on us figuring out something new. What can we do?
Be An Ally, and Don’t Be Racist
Racism, already rampant in our country, has flared with the COVID-19 outbreak. Those who look like they might be of Chinese descent are now the targets of significant hate crimes. Practice being a good ally – stand up and say something if you see this happening (no matter whether it’s in person or online). Check in on friends and family who may be from Eastern Asia. Actively speak out against this violence, including such rhetoric as referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus.”
The Center is working hard to help churches during this crisis. Building relationships with your community are what The Center’s all about – tap into their expertise! They will be providing support to congregations in two ways:
- Zoom Conversations on How to Engage with Your Neighbors in the Midst of COVID-19
The Center staff will be hosting Zoom calls to offer conversation and training around ways that we might actively engage with our neighbors in this unprecedented time. Check out their website, then click on COVID-19 Response for more info,email Kate or McKenna.
- Partner Volunteer and Donation Form
If you need volunteers or donations during this time – or if you have volunteers and donations to give, there’s a form you can fill out here.
Look Into Food Distribution Programs and the MD Food Bank
Many counties and organizations are organizing food distribution sites for children and families who usually benefit from free school meal programs. Check out your jurisdiction or the MD Food Bank to see how you might help! And please let us know if you are doing something in your area that we could share.
- Grocery Donations/Delivery
Rev. Michele Wardis organizing grocery donations for individuals through the Greenmount West Community Association. They need people to pick up and deliver groceries. Contact Michele for more information or to sign up.
Invite your neighbors (Electronically or by Post) to Check Ins
Create community in your larger area by inviting your neighbors to join in small group chats (religious or not) so that they might be less lonely. For example, Rev. Michele Ward is hosting a Greenmount/Central Baltimore check-in on Saturdays at noon on Zoom. Contact her for the invitation (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Call or email your neighbors to find out what their needs are, and perhaps even pull a group together to have a similar conversation. Join them in coming up with creative ways to meet those needs.