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COVID Ministries Across Massachusetts

By June 1, 2023No Comments

COVID Ministries Across Massachusetts

By Rev. Bria Belim, COVID Grant Coordinator

Three long years ago, in March 2020, the president at the time declared a national pandemic.

For almost the first eight months to a year of the pandemic, the amount of deaths daily were atrocious. As you may recall, there were no vaccines and it was hard to get COVID tested.

.From Left: Rebecca, Pastor Sandra Whitley, Rev. Bria Belim, COVID Grant Coordinator (Center), Toni, Angelina at Bethel AME Church, New Bedford

A year into the pandemic, the Massachusetts Council of Churches was invited to apply for, and received a grant from Health Resources in Action. The purpose of this grant was to help BIPOC and  unhoused communities through various organizations, like churches. With there being 18 different denominations apart of MCC, we sought out 14 different churches around the Commonwealth to be sub-grantees.

For our first time readers, the sub-grantees are:

Bethel AME Church, Lowell

Bethel AME Church, New Bedford

Cathedral in the Night, Northampton

Cathedral in the Beloved, Pittsfield

Price Memorial AMEZ Church, Pittsfield

Rush Memorial AMEZ Church, Cambridge

COVID vaccine clinic at Bethel AME Church in New Bedford

Holy Family Coptic Orthodox Church, Attleboro 

St Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, Natick

St Mary & St Demiana Coptic Church, Fall River

Living Elevated Church, Brockton

United Baptist Convention, Mass, RI, NH

Calvary Baptist Church, Haverhill

New England Tamil Church, Stoneham

St John Congregation Church, Springfield

Over the past two years, the  subgrantees have been a part of this program, so much COVID  work has been completed. Each grantee has had their own very unique way of doing COVID work- from teaching about COVID, to holding COVID vaccine clinics, to even creating solid material in the languages of their communities. Subgrantees have attended workshops about COVID from various workshop presenters.

As the COVID grant coordinator I am happy to report that,  over the past two years, the Massachusetts Council of Churches through our subgrantees, have ministered over 1500 doses of the COVID vaccine!

Church, 1500 doses of the vaccine, with the help of the Department of Public Health! There are still churches today who have monthly vaccine clinics and are still making sure that their communities are vaccinated.

COVID 19 Vaccine Clinic at St John Congregational Church, Springfield

While it feels like we are at the end of the pandemic, we know we still have a long way to go. I give God thanks and praise for each and every pastor who is now a trusted individual in the community, and every lay leader who is part of this program that have been active in the community during this fight against COVID-19.

Even while facing many challenges such as staying up-to-date with the state’s COVID-19 mandate, pastors and lay leaders have kept their congregations and community safe. This has been challenging for pastors, but everyone has been doing the work even while feeling clergy burn out due to the pandemic. As we close out this cycle of grant funding in June, stay tuned and be on the lookout for new summer safety resources as the nature of the pandemic has shifted.

Rev. Bria, COVID Grant Coordinator and Rev. Whitley share the good news of the Vax Clinic with the New Bedford community

To read more about our collaboration with Health Resources in Action, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Equity Grant Initiative, continue here:  

Over the past three years, the COVID Community Grants Program has provided funding, training, and technical assistance to over 100 community- and faith-based organizations  and Tribal and Indigenous Peoples Serving Organizations  throughout Massachusetts.