Our Missions Response to COVID-19: Info, Resources, and FAQ
These are very hard and trying times. As we struggle to keep up with the stream of news changing every minute, many of us are wondering what is being done to care for the most vulnerable in our society. Our identity as a missional church does not change in times such as these, although the way we do Mission must adapt.
Our church has moved into Phase 2 of our Pandemic Plan. What does this mean for Missions? In this phase, our Missions will continue collaboration with local agencies. May gather off site for small service projects if distancing guidelines are met: less than 10 people pre-registered ahead of time, 6+ feet apart, all wearing masks. At this time, only small, off-site Missions projects are being held, each with individual discretion and planning between the Ministry Leader and the Mission Director. For more info, feel free to contact me via the form on the church’s staff page.
I’ve prepared some information for how you can support Missions at home; a list of Community Resources for access to social services; Educational Resources and Spiritual Resources for folks to grow from while practicing social distancing at home; and a list of what may become Frequently Asked Questions about what our missional response to COVID-19 will look like. If you have any questions, as always, you can email me anytime through the button on the Clergy and Staff page.
Peace and grace,
Autumn Dennis, Director of Missions
Follow the Missions Facebook Page!
Pop-up volunteer opportunities will be posted here.
Ways You Can Help
- As of June 1, our church has moved into Phase 2 of our Pandemic Plan. In this phase, our Missions will continue collaboration with local agencies. May gather off site for small service projects if distancing guidelines are met: less than 10 people pre-registered ahead of time, 6+ feet apart, all wearing masks. At this time, only small, off-site Missions projects are being held, each with individual discretion and planning between the Ministry Leader and the Mission Director.
- Continue tithing: In a time like this, our regular undesignated giving becomes more important than ever. In order for our church to be a center of mission and ministry in a season like this, consistent financial discipleship is vital. From experience we know that offering tends to go down when the church does not meet in person. In order for our generosity to go above and beyond, we as a congregation have to be able to first pay our staff and meet our other financial obligations. Please give online.
- Support Circle of Concern: please take donations of personal essentials and self-stable foods directly to them. Please also consider donating to them online via their website. This helps provide food and toiletries to those in need in the geographic footprint nearest our church.
- Support Bridge Bread: Direct donations via their Facebook page. You can also order Bridge Bread and have it delivered to you! . This will help keep the bakers employed and housed while orders are down.
- Support LifeWise: Organize a group collection by offering your home (porch, driveway, garage, etc.) as a collection site where your friends and neighbors can drop off non-perishable food. Items can then be delivered to LifeWise, where staff will unload the driver’s vehicle while keeping a safe social distance. See a list here for their most needed items.
- Support Epworth: serve meals in a no-contact fashion. Sign up here. This is not a church-coordinated activity, but an independent volunteer activity at one’s own risk. Must not be a member of a high-risk category, must not have any COVID-19 symptoms, and must wear PPE.
- Support Parkway Schools like our partner Carman Trails Elementary School: you can support the Parkway School District Food Pantry through purchasing items through their Amazon Registry. It will be delivered directly to them to support Parkway families.
- Support St. Louis Public Schools like our partner Peabody Elementary School: you can donate financially through the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation. This will support their grab-and-go food program.
Local and National Community Resources
- Mutual Aid and Solidarity Circles:
- St. Louis Public Schools will be offering grab-and-go meals for all St. Louis children 18 and younger from 8am to noon, Monday through Friday for the dates listed.
- Parkway Schools: Monthly food pickup is available. Follow their website for the most updated information.
- These grocery store chains have designated special hours of shopping specifically for seniors: Fields Foods, Dollar General, Schnucks, Walmart, Target, Whole Foods.
- Domestic Violence Resources:
- If you are in a dangerous situation while quarantined, know you still have ways to get out of your situation. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or call 911. As always, you can talk with our pastors.
- Staying Safe Tips and Safety Planning, from the National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Safety Planning from Sanctuary for Families
- Seniors: Seniors who are in need of food support, utility support, or housing support can contact Aging Ahead at 636-207-4209.
- Jobs: How to file for unemployment and FAQ related to COVID-19, from the Missouri Department of Labor.
- Regional nonprofits that are working with local communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus crisis can apply for grant support from the St. Louis Community Foundation.
- Documentary: A Place at the Table, about food insecurity in America
- Video: The Future of Race in America, a Ted Talk by Michelle Alexander on understanding race and mass incarceration
- Recording: A reading of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
- Documentary: Tent City USA, about the Nashville homeless community’s response to a massive flood
- For students:
- Watch the livestream of worship, as well as saved archives, on our Facebook page.
- Common Prayer, a daily prayer devotional centered around social justice and service:
- A Lenten Activity Calendar for children and families.
- Short prayers from the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer on a variety of social matters, such as prayers for college students, for children, for those sick, for medical staff.
- Prayer: A Blessing for Washing Hands During a Pandemic
- Prayer: A Blessing for those Who Wait by Beth Richardson, the Upper Room
- Article: A Rabbi’s Cure for Coronavirus Anxiety
- Video: How to Manage Your Anxiety around COVID-19
Missions and Justice While At Home
- For adults:
- Consider calling, writing, or emailing your legislators about social issues you care about. Topics might be mandatory lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus, thoughts you have on the stimulus plans, or expansions of healthcare to meet demand.
- Sign petitions online at Change.org or Amnesty.org.
- Make an UMCOR Relief Kit and ship it to an UMCOR Depot.
- Make face masks: There is a small but mighty group of “Manchester Mask Makers” who are making fabric face masks. If you can sew, cut fabric, iron, donate supplies, deliver, etc., let us know. Email Kellie Duenke for more information.
- For children and parents:
- Write postcards to encourage shut-in seniors, hospitalized children, soldiers, or refugees.
- Consider going through your pantry with a parent and finding objects to donate to Circle of Concern. Watch this video with your parent and talk about why it’s so important
- Watch this short video on the interfaith allegory of the long spoons. Talk about the importance of helping others.
- Free social justice coloring pages
Frequently Asked Questions
As of June 1st, our church has moved into Phase 2 of our Pandemic Plan. What does this mean for Missions? In this phase, our Missions will continue collaboration with local agencies. May gather off site for small service projects if distancing guidelines are met: less than 10 people pre-registered ahead of time, 6+ feet apart, all wearing masks. At this time, only small, off-site Missions projects are being held, each with individual discretion and planning between the Ministry Leader and the Mission Director.
The two schools we partner with are Carman Trails Elementary (Parkway School District) and Peabody Elementary School (St. Louis Public Schools.) Both schools are learning remotely for the rest of the semester in response to COVID-19. See the section “Ways You Can Help” to see ways you can donate financially to support the food needs of both of these school districts–currently, this is the best way to help.
For the time being, please do not take donations to the church. We want to eliminate the possibility that the virus could travel on donations and eliminate the need for volunteers to leave home to deliver donations to the agencies. If you have donations for LifeWise or Epworth, please keep these donations at home for now or take them directly to the agency. If you have Personal Essentials donations or other Circle of Concerns donations, please take them directly to the agency. All other donations can be taken to the Goodwill off of Manchester Road next to the church, where you can leave donations around the back of the store. If you have extenuating circumstances, please email Autumn Dennis through the button on the Clergy and Staff page.
The CEO of Bridge Bread, Fred Domke, recently shared that due to the many cancelled orders Bridge Bread normally relies on, their organization is requesting direct donations. This will help keep the bakers employed and housed while orders are down. See the section “Ways You Can Help” to learn more about how you can donate financially or order bread to have it delivered to you. Currently, these are the best ways to help.
The quickest way to help these organizations is to donate directly yourself. Many organizations utilize online giving, or accept checks through the mail. When you donate through the church, it often takes much longer for the donation to reach its source.
At this time we have no plans to create a special offering for response. Due to closing worship, many churches like Manchester will face a substantial drop in giving. In order to be able to sustainably care for our neighbors and our region, at this time we cannot create additional specially designated offerings. Your donations through the General Fund (your Sunday offering) keep our church running and our staff paid so that we can keep responding to the needs of our hurting world, including COVID-19.