First Presbyterian’s Response to Covid-19 Pandemic

Ministering in the time of COVID-19 

  • Session Petitions City and County to allow for Micro-Shelters which the city approved!

  • Mission and Session approved funding the construction of 2 micro-shelters

  • Mission requested $21,000 be distributed from Bright Gifts and Mission fund local and international partners who are affected by the pandemic.

  • Seeking a PDA grant to help the Safe Camp/Safe Place Ministry

  • Establishing a fund to continue help as needed. Presbytery gives $1,000 to every congregation, Bright Gifts matches it and challenges you to donate what you can.

  • First Presbyterian raises over $12,000 to help keep families fed and to assist Stone Soup.

  • Over $40,000 given so far. Thank you for your generosity!

  • These are examples of what it means to be a Matthew 25 Congregation!

Indeed, these are chaotic and troubling times!  Every household is struggling to resist the consequences of the COVID-19 virus.  Sheltering in place and social distancing have been our way of life for weeks now and appear set to continue for some time.  But what of the vulnerable and those in our community who have no home in which to shelter?

For a number of reasons, those without homes are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, according to health officials.  Thus, particularly in these afflicted days, the concern of we Christians at First Presbyterian has been and is located upon ministering to our homeless sisters and brothers, as well as others impacted by the COVID-19 virus.  Session, the Mission Committee and the Faith in Public Life Committee of our church have all been active, responding to the challenges and the needs of these days.

(a) Petition supporting micro-shelters

At its March meeting, Session adopted and sent to the Corvallis City Council a petition drafted by our Faith in Public Life Committee (which originally was also to be offered to members of the congregation for signing, but thanks to COVID-19 this was not possible) seeking the Council’s favorable action upon requests for the utilization of micro-shelters for homeless folk, i.e. in church parking lots at First United Methodist Church and Corvallis Evangelical Church.  At its meeting on April 20, the City Council approved these requests.  There are now several micro-shelters in use at First Congregational Church (located on county property), 4 micro-shelters at First UMC and one at the Evangelical Church.  These micro-shelters are intended for use by those who are ill or are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.  We should all extend our thanks to the Mayor and Council members for approving the use of these micro-shelters… contact info is found here.

(b) Funding construction of 2 micro-shelters

The Safe Camp/Safe Place Ministry (which originated on the grounds of First Congregational Church to offer space for those without homes and has been supported by our Session since last summer) has been and continues to seek the construction of and the placement of additional micro-shelters within our community.  Our Session and Mission Committee have provided the funds necessary to construct 2 micro-shelters.

(c) Funding assistance agencies

Additionally, at its April meeting the Mission Committee voted to send $3,000 (from last December’s Bright Gifts Challenge Offering and the tithes of recent bequest to FPC) to each of the following: Room at the Inn (the Women’s Shelter operated at First United Methodist Church), the Me*n’s Cold Weather Shelter (which is offering hygiene services — showers, laundry, and meals), Stone Soup (which continues to provide catered meals daily on a to-go basis), Daytime Drop-In Center (which continues services to area homeless), Safe Camp/Safe Place (see above), Friends of the Presbyterian Education Board-Pakistan, and Cambodia (both are combating the health and economic effects of COVID-19 upon their communities).

(d) Seeking a PDA Grant

The Session and the Faith in Public Life Committee submitted a grant request to the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Program (through Cascades Presbytery), seeking funding for the Safe Camp/Safe Place Ministry to the homeless in light of COVID-19.

(e) Establishing a COVID-19 Relief Fund

The Presbytery of the Cascades is allocating $1,000 to every congregation to be used to help people affected by the pandemic and its economic consequences. Our Mission Committee is asking that our congregation match that allocation with Bright Gift funds to kickstart a relief fund that members and friends can contribute towards.  This COVID-19 Fund would be administered by the Mission Committee to respond as needs arise.

(f) Funding local feeding efforts

From a fund created years ago for social ethics lectureships that recently was broadened to permit use for social ethics in general, Session utilized $4,000 to buy 40 $100 gift cards at grocery stores for low-income families being helped by the Corvallis 509J school district.  Additionally, concerned members of the congregation contributed an extra $6,000 to this effort.  Therefore, a total of $10,000 from FPC provided 100 gift cards to the school district for low-income family groceries.  Also Session released another $2,000 to use for Stone Soup’s added COVID-19 expenses.

(g) A Matthew 25 Community

Following Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 25:31–46, we strive to be active disciples, making a difference in our community and the world.  He taught “… as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  The actions listed above illustrate our congregation’s intent to be a “Matthew 25 Congregation,” registered with our denomination as a church seeking to enact the compassionate teachings of Jesus to serve the needs of our community/world.

Our ministers, Session, the Mission Committee, and the Faith in Public Life Committee have been and continue to be active in expressing our Christian concern for our community, especially for those affected by COVID-19 and those living without homes.  Please, be alert to further actions and opportunities we will have before us in the days to come.

We thank you – the generous members of FPC – for supporting and enabling the gestures mentioned above.