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Washington Churches Fill the Gap for Furloughed Workers: 'We Are Just Being the Hand of God'

01-25-2019
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Furloughed federal worker embraced by volunteer at First Baptist Church of Glenarden (Photo: CBN News)
Furloughed federal worker embraced by volunteer at First Baptist Church of Glenarden (Photo: CBN News)

WASHINGTON – As the government shutdown drags on, more and more churches are standing in the gap until government employees start getting a paycheck again.
 
This week, a steady stream of furloughed workers passed through the doors of First Baptist Church of Glenarden, situated in a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC.
 
"When we opened our doors to give to the community we saw the impact. There was a line of 100 or so cars," David Leonard, who runs the church's family life center, told CBN News.
 
"These are people who are coming in who are not used to having to ask for assistance," he continued.


 
Parishioners filled 3,000 bags of groceries designed to sustain furloughed workers for about a week.
 
"It's a bunch of stuff that I have, 17 recipes that I can make a whole bunch of meals from," Leonard explained.
 
Meanwhile, National Community Church, which has eight locations around the Washington area, has set up an online "Furlough Fund." 
 
The church plans to distribute gift cards to furloughed federal workers, businesses and contractors negatively affected by the shutdown.
 
Lora Batterson, wife of NCC Pastor Mark Batterson, told CBN News they're also offering prayer support for federal workers.
 
"We want to come alongside – we have a team of people that want to pray with you, that want to support you in whatever way you need," Batterson told CBN News.
 
"We have a friend who was actually supposed to start a government job a few days after the shutdown started and so he's now been unemployed for over a month and starting to feel it," she continued. "So, there's lots of different ways in which people are being impacted."


 
Along with groceries, Glenarden is also offering so much more.

Volunteers greet furloughed workers with a smile, listen to their anxieties, pray with them and offer lots and lots of hugs.
 
"Let us be thankful and grateful, Lord, because this is only temporary," one volunteer prayed with a furloughed worker.
 
Ebony Griffin works for the Department of Justice. She came in to get a bag of groceries and decided to stay and volunteer.
 
"It's been a blessing; it's been a comfort to be able to pray for individuals and just give hugs and share the world of God," she tells CBN News.

And she's not the only one.
 
"As a federal furloughed employee myself, I felt the need to come out to show compassion to the people coming in to let them know that we're all in this together," says Michelle Killebrew-Ervin, who has worked for the Department of Treasury for more than 30 years.
 
Along with keeping bellies fed, this church is offering special programming to keep furloughed workers emotionally and spiritually fed during these uncertain times.

"We want to make sure we are just being the hand of God. Our pastor's theme for this year is 'doing life together' and what better way to do life together than with the community to give life literally," says Leonard.
 
Reggie Sydnor says he's thankful the church is supporting furloughed workers like him, but he's ready for Congress and the president to reopen the government. 
 
"You know, it's funny, you hear somebody say, 'I can't wait to get back to work' and that's just how I feel right now," Sydnor said after picking up a bag of groceries.
 
Until then, volunteers and fellow furloughed workers, like Sandra Bolding, will share blessings and the hope that only God can provide.
 
"Love conquers all. Yes, it does," she says, referencing her shirt that says "love" in large font.
 

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