ABOVE: Former New England Patriot's Tight End Benjamin Watson appeared on the Friday edition of Faith Nation to discuss the Churches Helping Churches Initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic. Faith Nation is seen weeknights on the CBN News Channel.
Several national Christian groups are joining together to launch an initiative aimed at helping small churches in low-income areas avoid permanent closure as a result of financial issues from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Churches Helping Churches Initiative, spearheaded by the Atlanta-based AND Campaign, is creating a Coronavirus At-Risk Church Relief Fund that will provide $3,000 grants to churches facing closure within the next three months because of recent drastic decreases in giving.
According to a recent Barna Group survey, a total of 6% of churches polled say they are "unsure", "not very confident", or "not confident at all" their churches will survive the pandemic based on what they're seeing right now. The survey also shows 21% say they've had to reduce staff hours in the last week, up 3% from the week prior.
"Although the federal government has moved to provide some assistance to Americans and nonprofits, we believe that the church should be the first to help their brothers and sisters in need," said Justin Giboney, president of AND Campaign. "Many of our churches in low-income, urban areas have been hit hard because of the virus' spread in densely populated areas and the loss of jobs for hourly workers, who cannot do their work remotely."
Former Super Bowl-winning NFL tight-end Benjamin Watson has also joined the initiative.
"It's a very challenging time for our nation, and especially for many of our low-income communities," said Watson. "My wife and I are honored to support this initiative to support churches, many of whom are pillars of hope and charity for their community in times of crisis. I want to invite all Christian organizations and followers of Jesus Christ who are able to come together and find ways to support these churches and their congregations."
Already, the group has secured a $75,000 commitment to the fund with an initial goal of raising $500,000 during the month of April. According to their press release, "the grants will be administered by the National Christian Foundation and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to at-risk churches."
The initiative hopes both individuals and larger, more affluent churches will support the fund. Their website also encourages larger churches to assist at-risk churches within their own communities. To support the fund or submit an application for your church to receive aid, click here.
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