In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, churches around the world are having to step back and rethink how “church” can be done. Whether your church is tech-savvy or doesn’t even have an email address, there are resources to help you and your congregation navigate this unprecedented time as a family of faith. There are many, many more available than what you see here, and you can find them yourself using online search engines. We are simply wanting to provide you with a place to start—an abbreviated, categorized list of helpful articles and videos that you may find helpful—all on one web page.
COVID-19 Response Grants Update
Posted: 3/24/20 at 12:00pm.
In less than one week, 20 BGAV churches have been approved to receive grants that will assist their response to community needs regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. These churches intend to use the funds in a variety of ways including the increased stocking of established food pantries, purchase of food bags and distribution to senior citizens and vulnerable children, emergency assistance utilizing gift cards in partnership with a grocery store, and working with local school districts to continue distribution of weekend backpack ministries. Your church can apply for one of these grants by completing this brief application.
“We anticipate that more churches will begin thinking about the long-term needs of their communities and the requests will become more diverse in the coming days and weeks,” commented Dean Miller, Mission Development Staff Coordinator. “As bad as this crisis is and will become, what a great opportunity for the Church to rediscover itself and insert itself as a community leader once again.”
BGAV: Walking with You
Posted: 3/17/20 at 2:15pm. 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.
Church Grants for COVID-19 Response
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.
BGAV-facilitated Online Giving to Churches
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. *IMPORTANT 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.
Online Worship Resources
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.
European Partner Dialogue
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,
A Message from John Upton, BGAV Executive Director
Posted: 3/13/20 at 12:45pm. Written by John Upton.
I have been receiving a large volume of inquiries from church leaders concerning COVID-19, asking for suggestions. The BGAV is not a professional health organization, so we are not qualified to give advice regarding the disease. What we can do is share links to professional health resources and share how other churches have chosen to respond. We want to assure you that we are closely monitoring this rapdly changing situation and are in communication with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), both of which have issued specific interim guidance for faith-based organizations that can be accessed here. Please, at a minimum, follow their recommendations. Also, I encourage you to have your leadership meet and make a decision regarding church activities based on the welfare of the most vulnerable in your church and community such as older members, children, those with health issues, and neighbors. Watch closely the decisions of your local school systems and follow the recommendations of the Governor’s declaration of emergency. The BGAV is doing the same regarding all its events for the next couple of months.
Finally, let’s be sure as we gather for worship, whether online or at church, to take time to pray for our communities, our country, and the world as this virus spreads to every corner of the globe. We are discovering that as a global community we are more connected than we ever realized. Someone becomes ill in China, and soon the world becomes infected. In an event such as this we are all brother and sisters. Let’s pray and offer God’s care and love to all God’s children.
BGAV leaders are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the federal government related to our operations at home and abroad. Our primary goal is to inform you of what we are learning from VDH in your preparations for addressing this crisis. BGAV receives regular briefings from the VDH and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
At this time, BGAV Disaster Response has not been asked to respond and is not accepting any in-kind donations specific to the response to COVID-19. Any funds received for this event will be utilized to assist our global partners who have been asked to respond and will also be used should we be activated.
The following BGAV events have been cancelled or rescheduled:
- Journey: A Retreat for High School Students (March 13-15, 2020) has been CANCELLED
- Fresh Expressions National Gathering – rescheduled for March 24-26, 2021 (view registration/refund options)
- Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Training – rescheduled for June 7-10, 2020 (check the BGCT website for updates)
- *Revitalize: Re-energizing the Church for the Kingdom of God (Central/Valley) – rescheduled, date TBD
- *Revitalize 2: The Next Level – rescheduled for June 27, 2020
- *Church Financial Administration Seminar – rescheduled for May 20, 2020
- *Annual Fanning the Flame Gathering: Exploring Revolutionary Civility – rescheduled for August 25, 2020
* NOTE: For these events, your paid registration fees will be applied to the event on the new date. If you can no longer attend or send another attendee in your place, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a refund.
Disclaimer: This communication is designed to provide accurate information from authoritative sources regarding this subject matter. It is provided with the understanding that Baptist General Association of Virginia and its employees are not engaged (employed) to render health, medical, epidemiological, or other specific services. If such advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.