Report from Church Council
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all of us in ways that were unimaginable only a few months ago. Our Church is praying and taking action to support our congregation, our families, the community and beyond. While the doors of our Church building are closed, we are worshiping virtually, people are sewing masks, the ministries are considering new ways to do the work of the Church and our bells ring every day as a sound of hope and reminder we are still here.
One way much of our congregation has been affected is financially. Some people have lost their ability to work and earn a living. Others are facing reduced hours or declining wages. Many are seeing their savings eroded. Thankfully for some, their incomes have been less disrupted.
At a recent Church Council meeting the group considered some very practical questions. How can we help people who are struggling financially in this difficult time? What is the pandemic doing to the budget of our Church and its ability to sustain operations? Where is the greatest need in our community and what are we called to do to help? There are no simple answers to these questions and the search for those answers can be exhausting at a time when people need help immediately. We donâ€™t know all of the practical steps we can take but with prayer and conversation, good ideas will unfold.
Need Immediate Help?
Here are some practical steps our congregation can take if you need immediate help:
- If you need basic financial assistance for food, utilities, housing and other support for essentials of living, contact the Essex-Jericho-Underhill Ecumenical Food Shelf. In addition to distributions of food, this group also has some funding to help with other needs. For emergency aid, call- 802-878-5997 or email email@example.com.
- The Vermont Food Bank Farmers to Families food box distribution information, dates and locations can be found here: https://www.vtfoodbank.org/coronavirus-services-for-individuals/coronavirus-food-distributions
- If you need a prescription picked up, a mask to go outside with, some grocery shopping done, firewood moved closer to your front door or a similar chore, contact Anne or Dave Clift at 802-310-8514 or 802-899-9954 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They have a list of people in the Church who are willing to help and can assist with making contacts.
- Are you feeling worried, anxious, depressed or have other mental health concerns, be in touch with Pastor Jen at email@example.com or 802-899-1722.
- If you have another need and donâ€™t know where to turn for help- contact your town office or call 2-1-1. The town clerks know of many resources in the community and may be able to make referrals. 2-1-1 is connected to statewide social service resources and can provide assistance to questions about getting food, paying rent, getting help for domestic violence, transportation, childcare, taxes, and many other things.
- Contact your local legislators. Not only do our elected officials know how to cut through red tape in state programs, they are interested in hearing how their constituents are doing and what challenges they are facing.
- Representative George Till, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: (802) 828-2228
- Representative Trevor Squirrel, Email: TSquirrell@leg.state.vt.us, Phone: (802) 324-2601
- Senator Tim Ashe, Email: email@example.com, Phone: (802) 318-0903
- Senator Philip Baruth,Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: (802) 503-5266
- Senator Debbie Ingram, Email: DIngram@leg.state.vt.us, Phone: (802) 622-4394
- Senator Virginia Lyons, Email: email@example.com, Phone: (802) 828-2228
- Senator Christopher Pearson, Email: CPearson@leg.state.vt.us, Phone: (802) 860-3933
- Senator Michael Sirotkin, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: (802) 999-4360
Frustrated and donâ€™t even know how to get started? Feel free to contact someone you know in the Church. We are happy to see if we can help you figure out where to turn.
- Dan Manz, Church Council Chair, Email: email@example.com, Phone: 802-899-3411
- Bill McMains, Trustees, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 802-899-1235
- Jim Dougherty, Listener, Email: email@example.com, Phone: 802-899-2630
- Anne Clift, Listener, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 802-310-8514 or 802-899-9954
- Roger Gillim, Listener, Email: email@example.com, Phone: 802-899-3106
- Marilyn Kimball, Listener, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 802-363-3201
In the near future, many of us will be receiving economic stimulus checks from the Federal Government. For some, these funds will be a financial lifeline to help keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. For others, the checks represent a â€œwindfallâ€ at a time when our earnings have not been adversely affected by the pandemic. If your financial situation allows here are some thoughts to consider:
- Pray and reflect on how you can be the best steward of these resources.
If you know of friends, neighbors or family members in need, the best way to help may be to give directly. Helping people avoid applications and waiting is probably very welcome.
- Make a donation to the Essex-Jericho-Underhill Ecumenical Food Shelf. Your money will help locally and go directly to support this community at a time when needs are higher than usual. You can mail a donation to the Underhill-Jericho Food Shelf at P.O. Box 65, Jericho, VT 05465 or make a contribution through our Churchâ€™s on-line giving link at https://unitedchurchofunderhill.com/online-giving/. Distribution of food shelf funds is carefully monitored by their advisory board members.
- Consider an extra donation to our Church. We are in good financial shape today but it is hard to know what the future holds if this pandemic goes on for an extended period of time.
- Identify another group helping people meet basic needs and send them a contribution.
The miracle of Christ rising at Easter is a reminder that our faith brings with it the promise of eternal life. Someday we will emerge from the restrictions and pain we feel today, and we will do it as a Church!