WELS Christian Aid and Relief has distributed $30,000 in matching grants to 17 congregations so they can offer pandemic relief in their communities. This was in addition to $160,000 in matching grants it gave to 24 mission congregations in conjunction with WELS Home Missions. Here’s how WELS congregations are shining Christ’s love in their communities:
Providing food and supplies to people in need
Immanuel Hmong, St. Paul, Minn., responded to the need of its local community by distributing Asian foods and general essentials. Members shopped for products, sorted and packaged them, and loaded cars with the packaged products. “Americans continue to wrestle with hunger as a result of job loss due to the pandemic. Some families have to make a decision to either feed the family and risk eviction or keep a roof over their head and go hungry,” says Pheng Moua, pastor at Immanuel Hmong. “We cannot save and help everyone, but we can reach out to one family at a time.”
Connecting with seniors
The outreach team at Shepherd of the Plains, Lubbock, Texas, targeted people who may have felt neglected this past year—seniors. Members put together gift bags filled with shampoo, lotion, puzzles, and a card created by the Sunday school children. Jeremy Cares, pastor at Shepherd of the Plains, then visited a local nursing home to deliver the bags and talk to the residents. “We just want to be that neighborhood, loving, encouraging church to others,” says Cares. When Cares stopped back to visit later (pictured with resident Troy), “I was surprised that after a month . . . some of the residents remembered me and asked me how our church was doing and even more about Lutheranism in general. It was such a great visit.” The congregation plans to continue the connection through more visits and gifts.
Offering physical and spiritual support
Members at Bethany, Gibsonia, Penn., an 88-member church north of Pittsburgh, built a Blessing Box in the church parking lot and filled it with non-perishable food, diapers, wipes—and Bibles. “We’re hoping for it to do double duty and not only provide for people’s needs physically but also spiritually,” says Jacob Brohn, pastor at Bethany. Plans were in place for this project before grant money was even available; Brohn says that with this grant money, the project can have even more of a lasting impact.
Supporting local health care workers
Abiding Word, Houston, Texas, provided a Chick-fil-A meal for workers at Houston Northwest Hospital, which is located across the street from Abiding Word. The school children raised $1,500 to add to congregational funding as well as created cards and goody bags for the workers. “Our prayer is that God would use this effort to communicate Christian love to community members who have sacrificed this past year,” says Matt Brown, pastor at Abiding Word. “We also pray that God might open a door for us to share his saving gospel with those who live and work close to our campus.” Pictured are Brown and Abiding Word’s second grade teacher Amber Hildebrandt.
Learn more about another congregation serving the needs in its community in the June 2021 edition of WELS Connection, which will be available online as of July 1.
Volume 108, Number 6
Issue: June 2021