By Rev. Kenneth Young
“Spring is here! The snow is over, and the sun will shine again.” That’s what was going through my mind in March of 2020. Although the sun was shining and the temperatures were warming up, there was this sense of darkness cast over Massachusetts. The governor of Massachusetts had just articulated guidelines about the capacity of people who could worship in person. The limit was only ten people, which meant that churches could not hold in-person worship.
Questions about Church Life and Money
Amid this news, we met for our once-a-day Zoom meeting at the Massachusetts Council of Churches. We mourned the loss of our sense of well-being and routine. We spoke about not comprehending how to move forward with our ministry. We were also concerned about the churches and ministries we lead. How do we administer communion? How do we exercise baptism? Will there be a right hand of fellowship for those who join the ministry? Do we have to cancel weddings? After outbreaks during funerals, we thought through a funeral guide that was adopted by several congregations. We were trying to get our bearings as the world turned upside down in a day.
Among our concerns was the question of what happens to churches that do not have money to sustain them for a month. How do we help these churches remain open?
One Church – One Church Fund
The question of how churches would survive continued to make our wheels turn. The staff wondered if established churches in the Commonwealth could help churches serving communities in need. The novel coronavirus hit Black and Latinx communities the hardest, and these congregations were losing loved ones. Churches in communities of color were serving meals, distributing clothes, and making masks. A small think tank assembled to explore a new program idea designed to empower faith communities to help each other, and the One Church Fund was born.
The One Church Fund was formed believing in faith that God called the churches in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to function as One Church. We prayed with leaders, pastors, and bishops. We asked for people who could help churches complete the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and set up Zoom conferencing and other administrative activities. The One Church Fund was not a well thought out plan. We didn’t know if it was going to work or fall to pieces.
Faith + Goodwill = Success!
Fortunately, we were able to raise $100,000 rather quickly. The success story of the One Church Fund was that we acted on faith and goodwill. We received phone calls from people willing to use their time and talent to help churches with virtual worship. Some churches were able to give physical items to other churches. Rev. Kyung Yoon of the Korean Church of Boston made masks for the Haitian Evangelical Church Network and Ministerios Cristo El Rey. Churches were helping each other. Ministry was done together for the sake of the gospel.
The Church reflects the light of Christ, and the Massachusetts Council of Churches helped shine this light through the One Church Fund.
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About the Author
The Rev. Kenneth Young is director of external relationships at the Massachusetts Council of Churches and serves as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Before that, he served as associate pastor of St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. Young has a Master of arts degree in religion and church history from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
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