In March 2020, quite unexpectedly, our city (and world) shut down due to Covid-19. With so many people suffering mentally, physically, and financially, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis offered “Crisis Response” grants to help Lutheran churches respond to the needs and opportunities caused by the pandemic.
With this assistance (along with member donations and other funds), congregations were able to engage their communities in a variety of ways. Some put the funds toward technology needed for online worship and Bible study, ensuring they could still meet the spiritual needs of their congregations. Others used the resources to help meet more tangible needs. Below are three inspiring ways St. Louis’ Lutheran churches stepped into the suffering caused by the pandemic.
Support for the Immigrant Community
- Ascension Lutheran Church focused on supporting their Nepali refugee community, many of whom work in the hospitality industry and faced reduced hours or job loss. Funds were used to purchase essential food and items, including a hog that was butchered and divided among Nepali families. Tuition support was also provided so children could continue attending Word of Life Lutheran School.
- St. Johns Lutheran Church (Tower Grove South) contacted Christian Friends of New Americans to identify families with the most need. They then delivered a check to each family and prayed with them. Some needed food because their kids were home instead of receiving breakfast, lunch and snacks at school. Others needed help with utilities and rent.
- Timothy Lutheran Church was able distribute $15,375 to support 37 non-member immigrant families with rental assistance, food support, and utilities. These families either lost work due to the pandemic or had tested positive for COVID-19.
- Epiphany Lutheran put together boxes of hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and small toys for immigrant families served by Christian Friends of New Americans.
Basic Needs Assistance
- Zion Lutheran Church (St. Louis Place) was able to quickly adapt their pantry ministry. With most of their clients being senior citizens without transportation and limited grocery availability, they changed their method from client-choice to pre-bagged food. Bags included canned goods, toilet paper, and hygiene supplies.
- St. Johns Lutheran Church (Tower Grove South) continued to run their pantry, but increased the number of families served weekly from 40 to 70 (200+individuals). In addition to food and hygiene items, gas cards and prayer were also offered.
- Christ Memorial Lutheran Church established a ‘Community Assistance Fund’ for members to donate to meet member and community needs. Member contributions along with the grant from Lutheran Foundation allowed them to distribute over $70,000 to those in need. They have helped cover utility bills, medication needs, rent, grocery gift cards, and school supplies. They also partnered with Crave Coffeehouse to provide families from Bethlehem Lutheran Church with weekly grocery deliveries.
School Families/Youth Care
- Resurrection Lutheran Church maintained its pre-school staff from April through May despite not receiving any income from the school. While they had no children to care for, they worked differently by calling all preschool families multiple times to make sure they were ok (95% of pre-school families are not church members). The church also bought and distributed hundreds of Bibles for Bethlehem Lutheran’s children’s outreach.
- Ascension Lutheran Church provided food items for Word of Life families to pick up with their child’s schoolwork.