On April 28, 2020, UniteBoston hosted a webinar which featured the stories of four church leaders about how their church is caring for the body of Christ and missionally engaging, despite tight restrictions. More than 40 people joined in, coming from 31 different churches! Watch this recording of the Zoom call to hear real stories from church pastors and leaders on the front lines, followed by Q & A and prayer.
Selected quotations from the webinar
“What I’m seeing now that I haven’t seen before is an openness to spiritual things. I’ve heard that people are calling chaplains to the floor of hospitals to pray for the staff. People are very eager to hear from someone who is spiritual, and we know that as Jesus Christ. So it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to grow deep in our relationship with God and bear witness to the grace and generosity of Jesus Christ.”
-Rev. Gloria White-Hammond, co-pastor of Bethel AME Church
“So much of ministry is physical presence, but we can still do a lot in this time of physical distancing. Facetime calls, What’s App, putting together playlists for people or sending audio messages they can play over and over again – these are helpful even for those who are comatose or sedated. Think about what is the soundtrack of comfort for them and put together a love list.”
-Rev. Ray Hammond, co-pastor of Bethel AME Church
“In our church, we have launched life communities, connecting communities, spiritual communities and neighboring communities. Creating spaces of community and leaning into it hard is the only way we’re going to make it through together… Our Easter Sermon was ‘What if things aren’t supposed to go back to normal?’ God makes things new; God takes situations that are full of death and makes them better. My prayer is that we embrace this and lead the way, that we faithfully engage in new and tangible ways. Change is necessary and we don’t have to be fearful or go back to normal – we can go back to a new and better rhythm that is more of the picture of unity that Jesus prayed for.”
-Pastor Chris Hall, lead pastor of Reunion Christian Church
“I see Christians trying to get ‘through this’ so we can go back to our understanding of ‘normal.’ But God is intentionally leading us to a different place of doing and being the Church. We do ministry in our congregations, but how do we incarnationally engage the world for the kingdom of God? How do we see ourselves within an ecosystem of other churches so we can really be salt and light to the world? I see the body of Christ coming together in phenomenal ways; I’m just hoping that it continues and isn’t just an episodic thing because we had this crisis.”
-Rev. David Wright, Executive Director of the Black Ministerial Alliance & Assistant to the Pastor, People’s Baptist Church
“Psalm 18:35 describes how God in weakness stoops down to make others great. I like to think about how I can pour into other churches so they can be empowered and equipped. We have established twelve projects with project managers serving to address tangible needs arising with COVID-19. I have also seen a huge need for shepherding, to shepherd our own hearts and our neighborhoods.”
-Rev. Kimberley Morrison, minister of City Engagement at Park Street Church
Chelsea is currently the hardest-hit city with COVID-19 in the state of Massachusetts. Chelsea, and other communities in East Boston such as Revere and Winthrop, are also facing an overwhelming amount of community need for food. These cities also don’t have access to the Resiliency Fund and other volunteer resources that the city of Boston has.
As each of us considers these challenging realities, God invites us to share our resources with one another, a practice of generosity that has characterized Christians since the Church in Acts: “They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.” (Acts 2:42).
UniteBoston has launched a fund to fuel some of the tangible needs arising with the coronavirus. We have been blown away to see the support that has come in – as of May 2, $1449 has come in to our COVID-19 Missional Engagement Fund. All donations are tax-deductible – click on the link below to give (choose COVID-19 response).
This money will be split between the following organizations / causes:
- Items for mental and spiritual health for patients at the Boston Hope Hospital. The Boston Hope is a field hospital that has been set up at the Boston Convention Center, primarily for individuals experiencing homelessness who have tested positive for COVID-19 and patients who are recovering from COVID.
- Food Pantry items through First Congregational Church in Revere. Rev. Nicholas Granitsas has served as the pastor there for 46 years, and has cooperation with a variety of Catholic and Protestant groups in his food pantry. Typically, they serve 60 to 80 families weekly, but they have had 297-399 families per week the past four weeks.
- Food pantry items through St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Chelsea. They are also feeding thousands of people weekly; on Saturday April 26, this food pantry fed 3,000 people.
- Organizational assistance to Central Assembly of God in East Boston. Pastor David Searles’s church website has become a hub for information about food resources for the community.
- Stop & Shop gift cards to pastors affiliated with the Black Ministerial Alliance to assist families in their congregations and the broader community.
Hi Kelly and Unite Boston,
I just wanted to say thank you so much for your generosity in supporting our homeless patients at the Boston Hope field hospital. Your gifts of therapy supplies and Bibles have been a huge encouragement and blessing to our guests and staff. The stress these people are under is incredible, but your donations have been a poignant image of God’s love and peace during these dark times. Thank you for sharing your resources and not hoarding even though I know that so many of you are struggling yourselves right now. Your partnership in this ministry is a testimony to the power of the Body when we act in unity.
Sam and the Boston Hope Wellness Team