Dear Beloved Friends,
For the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to worship with Friends in Kenya and Jamaica, not to mention Friends in Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, New York, and a few other places—and I didn’t even leave my living room. As the threat of the coronavirus is reordering our priorities and changing our routines, Friends Meetings and Churches are finding new ways to gather the community, hold meetings for worship, have meetings for business, and provide pastoral care. I am blessed by creative local pastors and Meeting leaders who are carrying on the work of Friends during these challenging times.
As many of us are worshipping from our homes, Friends United Meeting is encouraging Friends to continue our regular giving to our local Meetings or Churches. While we may be quarantined, bills and salaries must be paid, and many of our ministries are continuing. The mounting concern by our stewardship partners at Everence is that many local Churches and Meetings will experience declining support during this pandemic.
Everence has several publications that Friends may find helpful during these uncertain times:
1) Online Giving for Congregations – This may be an opportunity for Friends meetings and churches to establish online ways for members to contribute either directly through their banks or by credit card.
2) Benevolence Funds – In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Everence has doubled its benevolence programs to support the ministries of local congregations. These funds may even be used to pay Meeting expenses and pastors’ salaries. Friends communities are eligible for these matching grants by simply appointing a Stewardship Advocate. To learn more about this program, an online seminar is being offered entitled “Ministering in a Time of Crisis.”
3) Financial Counseling – We recognize many Friends are experiencing financial losses and uncertainties. Because of our partnership with Everence, any member of a Friends Church or Meeting is eligible to receive free budget and debt counseling.
To learn about these and other stewardship resources, please contact Colin Saxton, Stewardship Consultant with Everence (colin.saxton(at)everence.com).
Many Friends in the US will benefit from the Federal Stimulus Bill. Friends may wish to contribute all or part of their distribution to support their local Meeting or Church or to FUM’s COVID-19 Solidarity Fund. Let's continue to support our local Friends Meetings and Churches as they continue to care for us.
I realize the coronavirus has disrupted Meeting life, and this Easter many of our meetinghouses will remain locked. This Holy Week, we remember that we do not suffer these trials without hope, for the Risen Lord is with us.
Grace and Peace,
Kelly R. Kellum
Kelly Kellum is the General Secretary of Friends United Meeting.