Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
We have been actively dealing with the spread of COVID-19 for over a month. Congregations and leaders have had to get creative with worship and activities, including the most unprecedented Holy Week in our lifetimes. Changes are being made to businesses and the workforce, including furloughs, lay-offs, and the closing of businesses. There is uncertainty around when we may return to a somewhat “normal” existence while the pandemic still poses a threat.
The outlook of our situation can look pretty grim on the surface. But as followers of Jesus, we know that—as James reminds us in the Bible verse above—all gifts are from God above, regardless of change. And because God continues to gift us, we are able to gift others. Below are some suggestions about gifting in this uncertain time.
Adjust as needed. Your generosity may be different now depending on your current employment and financial situation. It’s OK to adjust for now and do what you can. Revisit weekly to see what may be possible as this pandemic unfolds.
Share generously as you are able. Our congregations, pastors, deacons, and outdoor/campus ministries are still working hard to minister to folks even as we are unable to meet in person. Even as you adjust, remember that all that we have is a gift from God and can be shared with those doing God’s work during this pandemic. Pray about how God could be moving you to share with your congregation and other ministries within our synod, along with your neighbors in need.
Explore electronic giving. If your congregation doesn’t already have the option, now many be a good time to explore an electronic giving option through your church website, automatic deductions, and/or a mobile app. Check out the two ELCA preferred vendors for electronic giving, Tithe.ly and Vanco.
Make self-care a priority. Do what is needed to take care of yourself and your family. Make space to intentionally relax during this stressful time. Wear masks when going out and frequently wash your hands. Read pandemic news deliberately and not before bedtime. You are only able to take care of others as much as you take care of yourself.
Pray and read the Bible. During trying times, it’s easy to let our relationship with God fall by the wayside. But now more than ever is an opportunity to cultivate our relationship with God. Spend time in prayer and read a Bible passage daily. Listen for God’s voice and guidance.
Please know that we as a Synod Staff have been praying for you all. Our synod’s congregations, leaders, and ministries continue to be a bright light in a dark time. Jesus’ message of love and salvation is still being proclaimed even as we shelter in place and practice social distancing.
The staff of the Office of the Bishop of the Allegheny Synod
Bishop Michael Rhyne
Pastor Paula Schmitt, Assistant to the Bishop
Pastor Becca Ehrlich, Interim Director for Evangelical Mission
Mrs. Michelle Bossler, Office Manager