JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief leaders are in constant contact with state authorities about any potential role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the meantime, they are asking churches to be the front lines in meeting the needs of their communities.
“Church members taking care of other church members can help reduce the load on other systems in the community,” said Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief Director Gaylon Moss. “Coordinate with your local officials to fill in the gaps in the current safety nets.”
Some ways of doing that include:
• Wrap around services: quarantined individuals or families may need assistance with grocery shopping, mail services, yard work, or any number of items that they cannot do while in quarantine. Those wanting to offer help with these services, please ask an authorized person from your church or association to complete the form (mobaptist.org/dr/coronavirus-response).
• Blood donation: The blood bank supply is very low. Churches may want to host a blood drive or individuals may want to give blood at local blood bank. Steps are in place so that you can host a blood drive or give blood safely under current COVID-19 safety guidelines.
• Food donation: Local food banks are under a lot of stress now to provide food for those affected by unemployment due to the latest social gathering restrictions. Food Banks need help with packing, delivering, and food donations. Find a local food bank at feedingmissouri.org/your-fb and ask them how you can help.
• Childcare: This is a challenging ministry to offer due to regulations and the current ambiguity regarding who needs care. However, if your church has a robust childcare program and can handle additional children, contact your local County Health Department and Department of Social Services to let them know the church may be able to help. Coordination and safety will need to be worked out between your church and these local agencies.
“Thank you for desiring to serve in this time of need,” Moss said. “These are unprecedented times and we are all learning together. God knows how to bring good out of the bad (Romans 8:28), so let’s be faithful to serve!”
Assuming churches will be meeting in-person, MBC DR leaders are also asking them to set aside a Sunday in May to recognize DR volunteers and the vital service they provide to communities in crisis.
“They are an extension of the church to people who need help, hope and healing,” Moss said. “This is one way we can say thank you.”
The “official” DR Appreciation Sunday is May 17, but Moss said any Sunday in May would work. He suggested churches might recognize volunteers in their congregations, host a special meal, hear testimonies from volunteers’ callouts, and more. A video from Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director John Yeats for the occasion will be available at www.mobaptist.org/dr.
Training previously scheduled for April 3-4 at First Baptist, Chillicothe, has been moved online.
This will be the first time MBC DR leaders will have attempted an online training option, but they say they are hopeful about the possibilities that this may open moving forward.
They anticipate having the “Intro to DR” class available as a pre-recorded video for trainees to access through a link that will be provided to first-time trainees, and those re-certifying whose badge has expired.
They plan to use utilize Zoom video conferencing to teach the typical Saturday morning class schedule in specific disciplines. This platform will allow attendees to see and hear the instructor in a live format, while also allowing for some level of personal interaction with the trainers. This training will require a stable internet connection and some sort of device by which to “attend” the meeting (phone, iPad, computer, etc).
Space will be limited for this online training, and registration will close on Friday, March 27. For more information, go to mobaptist.org/dr/dr-training/.