God’s Call to Love Supported by Pandemic Response Fund
Posted June 15, 2020
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
Jesus’ response to this question is posed in the Gospel of Matthew is, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Director of Stewardship and Development Gillian Doucet Campbell says this passage has exemplified the witness of parishes during the present pandemic.
“The Church is a community of people who love God and desire to follow God’s commandments and that is what we, the Anglican Diocese of Niagara, are living out together.”
This was no more evident than through the story of a man connected to one parish in the diocese who, after a week of not feeling well tested positive for COVID-19. “A clergy member happened to call him to check in,” Doucet Campbell recalls. “He mentioned he needed groceries and was debating on going to the store – he didn’t want to put anyone out.” Instead, a parishioner received his list of groceries and picked up the items for him. “Our diocese helped give this man food and provided safety for the larger community.”
To date more than $12,500 in donations have been received for the diocesan Pandemic Response Fund, established by Bishop Susan Bell in response to several inquiries from parishioners about how they could help support people in crisis during the pandemic.
Since its inception, donors from across the diocese and beyond have supported the fund and the vital ministries it enables. “From gifts of $20 to $2,000 – when we pool our resources together real change happens,” said Doucet Campbell.
These donations have meant that the diocese has collectively supported the food security and pandemic relief ministries of over a dozen parishes.
Doucet Campbell shares the story of a young person who recently visited the Resting and Hygiene Centre at Christ’s Church Cathedral looking tired and weathered. “After a cup of coffee, she put her head down and rested and you could see her beginning to relax.” Operating seven days a week, this is but one of the many ministries which has received support from the diocesan Pandemic Response Fund.
Through generosity of local Anglicans, the diocese has also been able to support the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and the work they are doing overseas to help combat the spread of COVID-19 and to address senior’s isolation in Canada.
Doucet Campbell says that the commandments to love are also seen through the active attendance of online prayer services, the phone calls that are being made to one another, and the partnerships being formed with other charitable organizations, churches, restaurants, and local businesses in an effort to come together and care for neighbours.
Requests are also being received through a connection form offered during Bishop Susan Bell’s Sunday Prayer Service. “Some prayer requests are personal – asking for strength, patience, well-being, and the like,” observes Doucet Campbell who connects back each week with service participants. “Most requests also ask for prayers for loved ones or people in other countries and the situations occurring far away.”
In addition to online worship services, several parishes have also created meal prepping committees, catching the imagination of both parish members and the wider community. “All the volunteers are eager to prepare sandwiches, soups, and family sized-frozen meals for community partners who have the systems in place to distribute food to those in the community who need it,” says Doucet Campbell. Other parishioners and neighbours are also giving financial donations towards these programs to ensure fresh ingredients can be purchased.
With local foodbanks seeing an increase in visits, almost half of the parishes in the diocese are also collecting food and grocery store gift cards as well as encouraging financial donations on behalf of local food banks.
“By pitching in together with our time, talents, and treasure, we are making a real difference as we generously live out our commandments to love during this pandemic,” says Doucet Campbell.
“Our diocese really is in this together, thank-you.”