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GOSHEN, Ind. – In anticipation of the complicated winter ahead, Everence®, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. (MCC U.S.) and Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) are inviting donors to contribute to the COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund – and announcing an additional match of $50,000 – to further assist churches facing financial crisis due to the global pandemic. “We know this pandemic will persist through the winter ahead,” said Kevin King, MDS Executive Director. “The needs that our churches already face due to COVID-19 will be exacerbated by rising infection rates and community shutdown mandates. It is imperative that we continue helping our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Launched in April 2020, the COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund was originally seeded with a combined $800,000 commitment from Everence, MCC U.S., and MDS, plus an additional $74,507 in contributions from other donors. Ninety percent of the initial seed money funded 175 grants for churches with historic Anabaptist roots and relationships – many of which were racially and ethnically

diverse congregations serving communities and households that are underbanked, underinsured and/or uninsured. The remaining 10% of the original funding went to support churches in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean through the Mennonite World Conference Global Sharing Fund. But still more churches face significant financial needs due to the pandemic, such as meeting congregational financial needs (including rent, mortgage, utilities, staff salaries, etc.) and assisting individuals in their midst facing COVID-19 hardships.

“COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting marginalized and oppressed communities,” said Ann Graber Hershberger, Executive Director of MCC U.S. “The COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund is one way the three organizations can support churches serving historically under-resourced communities during this global emergency.” New donations from individuals, congregations and organizations – along with the additional funding from MCC U.S., MDS and Everence – will fund grants of up to $5,000 for as many of the remaining eligible requests from impacted churches. The fund’s selection committee will review the applications in the coming weeks.

“Our faith communities continue to extend tremendous generosity,” said Ken Hochstetler, Everence President and CEO. “Whether through the COVID-19 Congregational Relief Fund or congregational and denominational initiatives, we are so grateful for the countless ways people are extending mutual aid to one another, helping to support the lives we share.” Individuals, churches and organizations wishing to donate to the fund may do so online at mds.mennonite.net/covid-19-donations. Checks may be mailed to Everence Foundation, Attn: COVID19 Congregational Relief Fund, PO Box 483, Goshen, IN 46527. Additional information about the fund may be found at everence.com/COVID-19-congregational-relief-fund. To read stories about some of the grant recipients, visit everence.com and search for “congregational relief fund.”

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