New Initiative Provides Grants to Small Churches at Risk of Closing

The Churches Helping Churches Challenge aims to raise $500,000 to assist at-risk churches

Several national Christian groups and leaders, led by the AND Campaign, have launched an initiative to help small churches throughout the U.S. that are at-risk of closing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Churches Helping Churches Challenge, which includes leaders such as former NFL player Benjamin Watson, will assist congregations in low-income communities in urban areas that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 economic shutdown.

This initiative urges larger, more stable churches to assist at-risk churches in their own community. Its website, ChurchRelief.org, provides guidance and best practices for how large churches can pursue this type of outreach through the Coronavirus At-Risk Church Relief Fund, which provides $3,000 grants to small churches who are at risk of closing within the next three months due to a steep loss in financial giving.

The initial goal of the fund was to raise at least $500,000 during April from Christian donors, foundations and large churches. Already, it has secured a commitment of $100,000 toward the fund. The National Christian Foundation will administer the grants, and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to at-risk churches.

“It’s a very challenging time for our nation, and especially for many of our low-income communities,” says Watson, a Super Bowl winning NFL player and Walter Payton Man-of-the-Year Award finalist. “My wife and I are honored to support this initiative to help churches, many of whom are pillars of hope and charity for their community in times of crisis. I want to invite all Christian organizations and followers of Jesus Christ who are able to help to come together and find ways to support these vulnerable churches and their congregations.”

Organizations, churches and individuals who want to give toward the fund, and pastors of small at-risk churches who want to apply for a grant, can go to ChurchRelief.org.

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Along with the AND Campaign, this initiative is supported and organized by a collection of Christian groups and leaders, including the Pinetops Foundation, Movement Day, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Church of God in Christ (COGIC) denomination, Pinkston Group, National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Jude 3 Project and Pulse Movement.