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Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries helps congregations stay connected

Ministry offers technology grants and training to congregations of color

by Gail Strange | Presbyterian News Service

Congregations and worshiping communities of color received grants of up to $1,500 to add technology to their church. (iStock image)

LOUISVILLE — COVID-19 has caused the world to change the way people connect and the way they do business. For nearly a year millions of people have been sheltering in place and worshiping online. However, not all churches have the resources and capabilities to offer virtual services to their members.

“We realize that it’s the people and not the building that is the church,” said Amy Mendez, associate director of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries (RE&WIM). “COVID-19 has reoriented church leaders and communities’ relationships and also to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s  national church offices, as we determine what it means to participate in Sunday morning worship, weekday Bible study, and church meetings through the use of technology.”

Mendez says the global pandemic has highlighted many of the nation’s entrenched and systemic problems like racial inequities, economic injustice, and inequitable technological access for people of color.

A new ministry in RE&WIM partners with leaders in Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations and worshiping communities of color to help them provide access to their congregational leaders and members.

“Churches have been thrust into this immediate need to create virtual and electronic ministries,” she said. “Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries’ Church Technology Grants will assist congregations of color and enable them to address some of these technological inequities. Together, we can embrace and address this challenge and opportunity.”

Funds were made available to provide one-time grants to PC(USA) congregations of color to help with the expenses of church technology in order to allow church leaders to videotape and post worship services, provide livestreaming of worship services, and/or connect virtually for church meetings in the midst of the pandemic.

In November 2020, a call for applications was issued with an invitation for individuals to participate in a Church Technology Training workshop. Following the successful completion of the workshop, congregational leaders submitted a grant application for a Church Technology Grant.

Grants ranging from $750 up to $1,500 were awarded to nearly 100 PC(USA) congregation of color to install new technology at the church. “The grants will assist a congregation in a portion of the expense for providing online worship, Bible study and meeting connectivity, which may include items like Wi-Fi internet service, a router, a modem, or partial cost of a subscription to a remote videoconferencing service, like Zoom, for online meetings and conferencing,” said Mendez.

The granting period for the Church Technology Grants will cease once the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, or when the funds that have been designated for this use have been disbursed. However, Mendez says, “We hope we are able to continue these grants in 2021.”

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