Posted: 3/17/20 at 4:00pm. Written by John Upton.
It goes without saying that we are in the one of the most surreal moments we could ever have imagined. Yet here we are, and now we turn our attention toward how to be the church and God’s people during a time of national and global crisis.
First, I encourage you to follow the directives provided by government and health officials. Those directives are for the welfare of everyone.
Second, while we continue to monitor reports from the U.S. government, Virginia Department of Health, and CDC, we also have tried to think of ways the BGAV can be of practical assistance to you and your church. This is an initial list of ways we would like to walk alongside you during this challenging time. There will be updates to this list as we learn more about how to respond to the crisis. This is going to be a lengthy ordeal that will require patience, stamina, and a deep faith in God and one another.
- The BGAV is setting aside $100,000 for assistance for families affected by COVID-19. A church may apply for a grant up to $1,000 to help feed children who no longer have access to school meals or care for families quarantined because of the virus. We know many churches will struggle financially in the coming weeks and may not have the funds to support those in their community who are in need. These funds will be available to churches to help meet those needs. Here is a link to the grant form for your church to apply.
- Many BGAV churches do not have online giving capabilities. It appears churches will not be able to meet for eight weeks or more, which will have a dire effect on the life of the church. The BGAV has developed an online giving link for you and your church members to use. Your church members can give to your church using the BGAV donor link by clearly designating it for your church, and the BGAV will send that contribution directly to the church. Typically, online giving service charges must be paid by either the donor or the church, but the BGAV will provide this online giving service at no cost. Use this donation link to access the giving form and follow the instructions to Give to My BGAV Church. Copy, paste, and send the link to anyone who’d like to give to your church in this way. NOTE: Please be aware that while BGAV is not charging anything for this service, the giving platform does charge a 3% fee per transaction. When you give, you may choose to pay that 3% yourself or allow the giving site to deduct the 3% from your total gift (that option means your church will receive 97% of what you give). Your church will be notified of your gift and will recognize your tax-deductible donation. Funds will be mailed directly to your church via check around the 10th of each month for funds collected in the preceding month. If you have special designations, such as a building fund, etc., you will need to mail those directly to your church.
- If you would like help learning how to offer a free online worship venue, this article offers excellent tutorials and helps for different ways to accomplish that.
- Fresh Expressions will host a free webinar titled “How Your Church Can Be Faithful During Coronavirus” on March 18 (tomorrow) at 1:30 pm. You can register for the webinar here.
- We are currently in dialogue with Baptist friends in Europe setting up a Zoom conversation on how they have coped with the coronavirus crisis and what they would offer as insight for our churches as we prepare to respond. This will provide opportunity for us to offer support to our friends in Europe, and around the world, as they share with us. We intend to livestream this conversation. We will share more details as we finalize our plans.
- Finally, in light of the escalating cases of the COVID-19, the BGAV Resource Center has been restricted to staff and officers only of the organizations located at the Resource Center. While staff continues to serve churches and do Kingdom work, we hope this measure will limit staff exposure to the virus.
As many have noted during this time of “social distancing,” we may need to connect more than ever. If you have suggestions or ideas of ways we can help one another and our communities, please share them. We will make sure those are communicated in our twice-a-week communication plan.
In God’s love and grace,