In recent months, COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. WDC is responding by gathering resources for congregational ministry; connecting leaders to share ideas and encouragement; and helping congregations access support such as Everence matching funds and Everence/MCC/MDS relief grants. WDC is also mobilizing sharing within our conference. WDC established the Hope Fund to receive contributions and assist congregations facing financial challenges due to COVID-19. Generous gifts have supported several grants and will provide further assistance in the coming months. We invited some recipients and donors to share their reflections about how the Hope Fund is making a difference:
A retired person in Kansas said, “Christians need to think carefully about the amount of difficulty those without means have been put through from the pandemic. The government is trying to help, but as a Christian I am interested in finding ways for Christians to rise up to help others. When the pandemic came, I asked, Where is the opportunity to activate the potential of congregations? When I read about the WDC Hope Fund, I thought – There it is! Don’t think that what we do as a church is insignificant compared to the government. The church offers personal connections – a government check doesn’t do that. As the church, we have the responsibility and the gift to work together to give beyond the dollar sign.”
When Iglesia Menonita Casa del Alfarero in Pasadena, Texas, received a Hope Fund grant, pastors Alberto and Aurora Parchmont prayed for several days to discern the distribution of funds. They then took contributions to nine families who were out of work or had lost jobs due to the pandemic. “Wow!” some responded, “This will help us pay the rent – which we can’t do with food stamps.” Alberto and Aurora prayed for the families, with the reminder that these gifts come from people across WDC.
A couple from Texas said, “When the pandemic started, we realized we have more than enough, and needed to do something. The immediate shock of what was going on disheartened us; we knew some people would be hit much harder than we were, and would not receive government checks. We decided to give to the WDC Hope Fund to support the sharing concept of helping across the conference.”
At Iglesia Menonita Comunidad de Esperanza in Dallas, Texas, Pastor Damian Rodriguez said, “Most of our congregation members have lost jobs, and didn’t qualify for the stimulus check because they are undocumented. One member (whose mother in Mexico is sick) hasn’t worked since quarantine started. We gave her $500 to help with her mother’s hospital bills and hopefully have some money left for other needs. We helped another family with A.C. repair expenses.” Pastor Damian is grateful that WDC was willing to help as well as all the people who donated funds. “We understand that we are all suffering one way or another,” he said, “but are thankful there are people willing to help those who are suffering more than others.”
A young-adult in Kansas wrote, “When I received my “stimulus” money, I wasn’t sure about my own employment stability, but knew that, as we enter a time of economic instability, true security lies not in hoarding resources, but in nurturing a spirit of generosity. I give now because people have needs now and because I have money now. When I am in need, I put my trust in the continued generosity of the community of believers. This is mutual aid in a modern context.”
In the face of inequity within our society and church community, may the witness of these sisters and brothers inspire us to seek God’s justice and compassion.
We invite your contributions to WDC at https://mennowdc.org or sent to PO Box 306, N. Newton, KS 67117.