Through partnerships with other local organizations, Chadwell says they’re working to encourage social distancing yet also conduct wellness checks and educate homeless people about coronavirus symptoms and available resources. “I even see our homeless serving each other, getting meals for one another,” says Rogers. “People are going to step up.”
Be the Church: Inform Communities About Resources and Needs
During these uncertain times, churches also are directing healthy, eager volunteers to various areas of need. Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, for example, posted a list of local ministries and organizations on its website, along with specific known needs of money, goods, and in-person assistance. Links to websites and online-shopping “wish lists” allow donors to act quickly and where needed most. Needs may change quickly, the site notes, so volunteers should use the provided contact information to get in touch with organizations directly.
Churches also can inquire about adding their information to citywide websites. For example, a Colorado Springs, Colorado initiative lists a variety of nonprofits—including ministries—that need support in order to continue offering assistance.
Some churches are hosting coronavirus-testing sites to assist sick community members. Some are redirecting blood donors to other agencies, now that many churches have had to cancel planned blood drives and supplies are running low.
The Trump administration has asked church leaders to follow best practices from health officials, to pray for the nation during this outbreak, to help share important information with communities. A senior White House official says, “While churches…may not be able to physically gather for the foreseeable future, faith leaders continue to play an important role in our communities large and small, and the White House will continue dialogue with these leaders.”
Churches are filling these crucial needs at a time when donations may go down, as members worship from home and face their own job woes. In their outreach efforts and livestreamed messages, pastors are offering encouragement from God’s Word, taking prayer requests, and emphasizing the importance of interaction and support.
Loneliness and anxiety are side effects of virus-induced quarantines. That poses a particular challenge for individuals who are accustomed to gathering regularly as the body of Christ. “It’s hard for people in churches, because if you want a hug, you go to church, because we hug each other,” says Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “We’re friendly, we love each other.”