Do not neglect the church during this pandemic
That your church needs your generous support to survive this pandemic is no doubt!
Churches, like nonprofits and small businesses, face a lack of financing due to closures across the country. For the last four months, the Ministry of Health has issued a stay-at-home order that has restricted religious gatherings which are a source of income for the churches.
Typically, churches collect money when worshipers come throughout the week to pray and make offerings, or when priests go to their homes to perform special blessings. This cannot happen, because of the lockdown. Basically, empty churches equal empty collection baskets.
Further, traditional fundraising events have been canceled everywhere. Priests who relied on large and generous congregations on major holidays like Easter for a financial boost have had to lock their doors instead and celebrate Mass facing empty pews.
The novel corona virus is pressing painfully on the soft underbelly of houses of worship: their finances. A chat with a priest in Nairobi shows that churches have experienced a drop of 70 percent in collections. It is estimated that because of the cancelation of Masses most churches are facing a 50-70 percent drop in weekly donations.
Just to demonstrate how serious the issue is. In mid-April this year, an announcement from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York went like, “We will not be able to sustain operations in the coming weeks ahead,” because the cathedral is facing “an expected shortfall of 6.5 million dollars.”
With this reality, one can imagine, then, the financial duress parishes in the developing world are undergoing. As at today, a good number of churches are in survival mode.
The problem however goes beyond parish finances. Notably many parishes, religious congregations, and dioceses have put up income generating ventures such as schools, parking spaces, libraries and bookshops, which unfortunately have been closed down because of the pandemic. Religious sisters running catholic charities have not been spared. The impact of reduction in revenue has been tremendous on finances and budgeting.
Yet some activities have to go on, especially feeding programs and support for the needy, whose numbers keep going up as more people lose their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The church runs many institutions that support the needy people in the society including children’s homes, homes for the elderly, street feeding programs, and youth programs.
Parishes and institutions have had to embrace cost-cutting interventions that have seen some projects put on hold and workers sent home. Your church is currently depending on donations from well wishers and you could step in by contributing, not only to support the priest, which is an obligation to the Church, but also to support the needy who depend on the parish for their daily meal.
Some parishes are encouraging their Small Christian Communities and devotional groups to continue contributing to the parish kitty in cash or in kind; those who live upcountry for example, are able to give produce from their farms.
It is a trying time for us all economically, but we need to stand with each other and with the church. If we want to emerge from this calamity to find our church doors open and traditional pastoral care restored, our churches need our financial generosity as well as our prayers.