Almost from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that everyone in the Christian Reformed Church might all be in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat. This metaphor applies to individuals, families, and entire communities (and often did well before this virus).
But it also applies to churches. While some CRCs have seen their giving increase since the pandemic hit in March, others have watched most of their income wash away along with members’ jobs.
In response, the CRCNA’s COVID-19 Church Engagement Fund stepped in. Since May, several CRCNA ministries have united to send checks to churches disportionately affected by the virus, shutdowns, and recession.
One such church was Jesus Love Church of Southern California, a CRC congregation in Gardena, Calif.
Pastor Sangkyu Oh made sure the funds kept the congregation not only afloat, but rowing together.
“Thanks to this (funding), I was able to pay the rent for the church even during the pandemic,” Oh said. “In addition, we held a small sharing event with neighbors to overcome the pandemic.”
Each week before and after worship, church members distributed masks and good news to their neighbors.
“Our congregation has gained a lot of courage,” Oh said.
Like many other pastors during the pandemic, Oh led creatively. Early on during the shelter-in-place orders, Oh and his wife, Joy Heesun Oh, visited members’ homes, encouraging them and praying for them outside from a distance and leaving care packages with essentials like masks and hand sanitizer.
Jesus Love Church also used a special portion of the grant from Back To God Ministries International to purchase equipment for online worship.
Timely aid from the Church Engagement Fund helped this small Korean CRC continue to share Jesus’ love in southern California.
Our churches are still weathering the storm, and they are still in vastly different boats—some churches have stabilized and even thrived; others face hardship and uncertain futures.
The Church Engagement Fund disbursed most of its initial funding over the first four months, but needs still remain.
The COVID-19 Church Engagement Fund is a collaboration among the Christian Reformed agencies Financial Shalom (part of Pastor Church Resources), Resonate Global Mission, and Back To God Ministries International.