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Prefer to give by check or money order? Mail to Mission to North America, PO Box 890233, Charlotte NC 28289-0233.
Who isn’t talking about COVID-19 these days? The conversation is unfortunately dominated by loud, powerful voices from cable news outlets, many engaged in finger-pointing and blame assignment. Some call the virus by a name that is ethnically-charged and divisive, sadly to the detriment of our Asian neighbors – all of them created in God’s image and loved by Him, and many of them our fellow believers in Christ.
But there is another softer voice, familiar to the ear of the Christian: God’s Holy Spirit calling us to have mercy on those in need during this challenging time when many are more acutely aware than ever before of both their physical and spiritual needs. Mercy never seeks to establish blame, but instead comes to the aid of those in need simply because they are in need, and because Christ teaches us to love others as we love ourselves. The Good Samaritan didn’t question the man by the side of the road to determine his worthiness. He simply helped him because he was in need.
Four months ago, MNA ministry leaders among ethnic minorities formed a collaborative body known as the Ethnos Coalition. Together we are now proposing a relief project to help ethnic minorities in the PCA during this time of unprecedented distress. Our hearts and minds are drawn to the apostle Paul’s relief efforts for the Jerusalem church (1 Cor 16:1–4; 2 Cor 8:1–9:15; Rom 15:14–32). His beloved brothers and sisters in Jerusalem were suffering deeply and going through extremely difficult times. In love, Paul exhorted Gentile Christians to help with this great need in Jerusalem. Today our hearts break for the people we love and serve who are suffering intensely at this moment in time, their only income halted, who now have no way to provide food for their families. Our united cry to Christians who love kindness (Micah 6:8) is to generously fund this relief effort for those who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, those among our ethnic minorities who have already exhausted any meager savings they might have had, and for whom any government relief payments are likely to come too late or not at all.
Goal: To provide a temporary expansion of resources for the diaconates of PCA churches that are experiencing an exponential increase in requests for help in their poor and marginalized ethnic communities, to enable them to give immediate relief to those in critical need.
How? By providing COVID-19 relief grants to diaconates of churches whose ethnic members are heavily impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns. It is the duty of the deacons to minister to those who are in need, to the sick, to the friendless, and to any who may be in distress. It is their duty also to develop the grace of liberality in the members of the church, to devise effective methods of collecting the gifts of the people, and to distribute these gifts among the objects to which they are contributed. (BCO 9-2). Diaconates which apply for these COVID-19 relief grants must agree to use the funds for food and shelter only; to expand, not replace, their own congregation’s generous and sacrificial giving to the most vulnerable.
Scope of Need: We learned last week that a single one of our ethnic ministries already knows of 400 of their families now out of work with no source of income and little hope of receiving government relief funds. Multiply that by [should this be 8? Or 9?] ethnic ministries, and it provides an inkling of the degree of need our ethnic pastors will be faced with over the next few months.
Proviso: Churches will apply for COVID-19 relief grants by filling out a simple online application, following the guidelines established by the Ethnos Coalition, which includes a signed agreement that funds received will only be used for helping families or households in need and not for other church expenses.
Funding request: Our initial goal is a pool of $700,000, to enable us to provide approximately 100 heavily impacted congregations with COVID-19 relief grants of up to $7,000.
Ethnos Coalition Relief Distribution Committee will review requests from churches, evaluate using the guidelines established by the Ethnos Coalition and make disbursement recommendations to MNA’s Executive Leadership team.
MNA’s Executive Leadership will review the committee’s recommendations and ensure funds are disbursed expeditiously.
Guidelines we established for church Diaconates applying for help:
Our objective is to give immediate food and shelter relief for COVID-19 distressed low-income ethnic minority households (those with previous net annual incomes of $35,000 or less, or up to $48,000 for households larger than 4) as follows:
- Family food stipend based on family size
- Up to $300 for families of 2
- Up to $600 for families of 3 and 4
- Up to $900 for families of 5 or more
- Re-stock program. Deacons receive money to purchase food for their mercy pantry
- $1,000 for churches of 100 or less
- $2,000 for churches of 100 – 200
- $3,000 for churches of over 200
- Rental Assistance paid directly to the landlord
- Up to $1,500 per family
- Utility Assistance paid directly to the service provider
- Up to $200 per family
Church diaconates may fill out a simple COVID-19 relief grant online application. The maximum grant amount a qualifying church may be awarded is $7,000.
You can donate to the Ethnos Coalition Relief Fund online, or mail a check to:
Mission to North America
PO Box 890233
Charlotte NC 28289-0233