COVID-19: RRF is “tangible expression of solidarity”
Over 50 applications to LWF’s Rapid Response Fund show churches’ “overwhelming” need for support
(LWI) - More than 50 member churches in countries around the world have applied for financial support through the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The fund was set up in mid-April to help churches and communities struggling with the consequences of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Over the past two weeks, church leaders have approached the LWF Communion Office sharing details of how they are working to support congregations and communities most in need at this time of unprecedented global crisis. These include both response and prevention initiatives, as well as adapting church activities to livestreaming of worship services and online resources.
In contexts where people rely on their daily income, such an interruption of daily life and economy can be life-threatening to whole families
Marina Dölker, LWF’s Program Executive for Diakonia and Development, explains how the lockdowns in many countries have posed incredible challenges to church members as well as to their wider communities. “In contexts where people rely on their daily income, such an interruption of daily life and economy can be life-threatening to whole families,” she said. “It is also the most vulnerable who are not able to protect themselves from the virus due to lack of proper WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities or a lack of personal protection items such as masks,” she adds.
Relief and prevention activities
The fund was originally established through financial reallocations in the LWF budget, together with requests to related agencies and member churches who are able to support this emergency appeal. “Different partners and member churches have already contributed with bigger and smaller amounts,” Dölker says. “And for us, really, every single contribution is a tangible expression of solidarity among churches during this difficult time.”
Since the official call for applications was sent out two weeks ago, the LWF has received over 50 requests for support, a response which Dölker describes as “quite overwhelming and shows how much this support is needed.” Many project proposals focus on immediate relief activities, such as a church in Africa which requested funds to buy 10 tons of rice to help community members survive over the coming weeks.
Psychological and spiritual needs
Other churches have requested funds for a combination of response and prevention activities, including awareness raising, distribution of masks and disinfectants, but also provision of food items. One Asian church, Dölker notes, is proposing to install water fountains in public places so that people can wash their hands properly and regularly.
Dölker also highlights the importance of supporting efforts to help church members stay connected through activities such as online worship services. “The psychological burden of the current situation is immense, and churches play a vital role in caring for people’s psychological and spiritual needs at this time,” she concludes.