This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. — Center for Disease Control (CDC)

In company with the whole church—its congregations, pastors and chaplains, mid councils, and national staff, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has entered this strange new world of pandemic. As the virus began to spread, PDA prepared and offered guidance to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations for safe practices in the event of a widespread contagious disease outbreak, an outbreak which has now reached the level of pandemic.

PDA pulled 2.7 million dollars from reserves to seed the COVID-19 ongoing response both in the United States and internationally. These are funds that have been given by donors to PDA’s general fund, meant to meet the response needs of disasters small or large that are not able to be funded by special appeals. Although money is not the only thing communities need in this moment, it is one resource, alongside many others, that can be helpful. We are incredibly grateful to donors, past and continuing, who trusted PDA enough to designate their funds to the PDA general disaster account. This is where the bulk of our reserve for COVID-19 is being drawn from. We are also incredibly grateful to the churches and individuals who support One Great Hour of Sharing, the church-wide offering collected during Easter, which not only provides our core funding, but also supports two sibling programs, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and Self Development of People, two programs whose work in addressing systemic poverty, hunger and centering the needs of communities historically marginalized is as critical in the face of COVID-19 as it is to our global human flourishing every day. Churches and communities wishing to think about how best to allocate mission resources during this pandemic can gain insight and support from any and all of us.

In addition to making these grant funds available, PDA has ramped up our Emotional and Spiritual Care programs, including Compassion Fatigue and Resiliency workshops, and they are broadly available. We are working with the Mental Health Ministries office and the community Mental Health Network established after our last General Assembly. We will also work with Stony Point Center in New York, looking toward some virtual and (in time) actual gatherings for pastoral respite and reflection.

We are grateful for our partnerships with the Presbyterian Mission Agency Executive Director, who made $300,000 available for Matthew 25 Continuation of Ministry Grants, and World Mission and the Presbyterian Hunger Program, who we continue to work with to ensure a comprehensive response globally and in the U.S. The PC(USA) office of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and the Presbyterian Committee on the Self Development of People helped frame the parameters of the grant program and ensured that congregations of color and those systemically excluded and affected would be made aware of the opportunity to extend their mission through these grant funds.

Quick Figures: Emergency Response Phase (1/1/20-6/30/20):

Total Dollars Granted: $2,522,628.22

430 grants disbursed

Grants to 56 countries

483 churches supported in the U.S.

Domestic Response: Domestic COVID-19 grants are comprised of Assistance Grants, Refugee Grants and Continuity of Ministry/Matthew 25 Grants. The Emergency Response Phase is complete and Short/Long Term Recovery grants have started. Marginalized communities are prioritized in the distribution of grants.

22 Domestic Refugee Emergency Grants totaling $133,500

87 Domestic Continuity of Ministry/Matthew 25 Grants totaling $444,750

234 Domestic Assistance Emergency Grants totaling $1,017,850

International Response: International grants are being awarded on an ongoing basis. 87 grants totaling $926,528.22 have been disbursed in 56 countries.

Many international grants supported WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) projects, which are critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19, in addition to addressing emergency and ongoing food insecurity. Additionally, some partners launched education and communication initiatives to share news and prevention instructions in remote communities.

Emotional and Spiritual Care:

20 Faith Leader Support webinars presented for Presbyterian leadership and faith partners

Recorded and live Building Resilience webinars are available for general audiences and faith leaders in English and Spanish.

Emotional and Spiritual Care tips are shared regularly on social media.

Story Ministry:

PDA hosted a virtual screening and panel for Flint: The Poisoning of an American City to discuss water justice in a time of pandemic and how many communities are fighting COVID-19 without access to safe, affordable drinking water. This panel brought together faith leaders who are working in their communities, from Detroit and Flint to the Dakotas to Georgia. Faith leaders shared their stories and experiences and participants learned how to be involved with water justice.

Support this response, designate gifts to DR000148


Download the grant information:

Guidance for COVID-19 Grants (ENGLISH | SPANISH | KOREAN)

Guidance for Matthew 25 Grants (ENGLISH | SPANISH | KOREAN)

PDA's role in supporting the church (ENGLISH | SPANISH | KOREAN)

COVID-19 Emergency Initial Assistance grant form (ENGLISH | SPANISH)

Short/Long Term COVID-19 Grant Request Form (ENGLISH | SPANISH | KOREAN)

Webinar explaining Short/Long Term COVID-19 grants (LINK)

All grant requests must be submitted to PDA by mid councils.

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