Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
In our weekly updates, we share stories of our presence and impact around the world: from disaster response, to refugee and immigration ministry, to ongoing sustainable development projects in impoverished areas. Catch up on updates you missed, or find stories you want to read and share again! Or, subscribe to receive weekly email updates.
Beltsville is a suburb of Washington, D.C., and many in the community work in service industry jobs in the city. Many were unable to work during the early days of the pandemic when businesses shut down.
Whosoever Will Christian Church, an African-American Disciples congregation situated in Beltsville, was operating a small-scale food pantry to distribute food in the community prior to the pandemic. For the most part, the needs of the church’s neighbors were met through member contributions and occasional outside donors, and hours were determined by the availability of volunteers.
Following Hurricane Laura, more than 70,000 people remain without power; several areas are under curfew because of debris, downed power lines, and lack of water and sewer. Now, there is a heat advisory for much of the affected area-- even as people begin working on clean-up with no electricity and limited access to water. The state of Louisiana has received a federal disaster declaration for public assistance, and six parishes (Louisiana counties) qualify for individual household assistance. Damage assessments are still in the early stages.
As part of our domestic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Week of Compassion supports congregations like Saguaro Christian Church that are working to meet the economic needs of this time and feeding their neighbors in need. We celebrate the resilience and innovative spirit of these congregations, and give thanks for our wider Church’s role in supporting ministries like this one.
by Rev. Owen Chandler, Senior Minister, Saguaro Christian Church, Tucson
Saguaro Christian Church is committed to eliminating hunger on Tucson’s east side, a community which embodies the new face of poverty. These programs have been essential to our mission and understanding of the Gospel for years. Recently, the church created an independent nonprofit, the Sol Food Initiatives, to increase the capacity of our programming and our ability to foster relationships with other nonprofit organizations and churches.
Update on Hurricane Isaias: After skirting the eastern coasts of Florida and Georgia, Hurricane Isaias made landfall near the border of South and North Carolina and will bring rain and winds along the Eastern Seaboard through the day. So far, Disciples have fared well, and Week of Compassion staff is in conversation with partners to help provide relief in the complex COVID-19 environment.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps. ~Psalm 85:10-13
In Puerto Rico, Disciples of Christ pastors carry the weight of multiple disasters: Hurricanes Maria and Irma (2017), from which many communities continue to rebuild; an ongoing economic crisis; multiple recent earthquakes; and now the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the weight of these crises, church leaders continue to offer faithful leadership and care for their members and neighbors. At the same time, they are experiencing significant accumulated stress, to the detriment of their own physical and mental health.
On March 3, 2020, a tornado devastated the Nashville metro area. New Covenant Christian Church immediately went to work serving their neighbors, and then quickly had to modify their response in light of COVID-19 restrictions. We recently spoke with their Pastor, Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings, for an update. At Week of Compassion, we frequently share that disaster relief is complex and often draws attention to existing inequalities in a community. The convergence of a tornado with a pandemic amplifies just how glaring those inequalities are; how they affect recovery; and how they create even more challenges in a time of crisis.
The Week of Compassion Board of Stewards held its annual spring meeting virtually on May 27 to discuss the impact of COVID-19 in the United States and Canada and around the world. The meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Puerto Rico, but COVID-19 halted travel and is affecting the ongoing recovery work from Hurricane Maria. This pandemic is impacting all of the work and partners Week of Compassion supports for disaster response, refugee assistance, and sustainable development.