Louisiana Baptists donate respirators
NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Louisiana Baptists have donated 10,000 N95 respirators to help Ochsner Medical Center near New Orleans and about 14,000 more to other medical centers around the state to help in the fight against COVID-19.
John Hebert, Louisiana Baptists missions and ministry team director, told the Baptist Message he was honored to put to use disaster relief materials previously donated to help Louisiana Baptists respond after floods, hurricanes and other natural and manmade disasters. The N95 respirators are typically used by Louisiana Baptist volunteers to help in high dust operations like removing dried mud in clean-up operations and during different phases of reconstruction such as drywall sanding, etc.
The respirators, which offer crucial protection for health care workers, are in short supply as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens. President Trump issued a personal plea for construction companies and other organizations to donate what they can to hospitals facing shortages while manufacturers speed up the supply lines.
The respirators were delivered to Ochsner Hospital’s facilities March 18.
N.C. church serves local nurses
CONCORD, N.C. (BP) — Friendship Southern Baptist Church in Concord, N.C., is serving those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 by sending care packages to emergency departments at four nearby hospitals where some of their own serve as nurses.
Because some medical centers do not allow drop-offs, nurses from Friendship plan to take the packages to work with them. This allows hospital staff to have a point of contact with the church, Friendship’s lead pastor Jesse Watkins told the Biblical Recorder in a phone interview March 20.
“Our purpose is to encourage people and to serve people as the church,” Watkins said. “But we do want to connect that with someone who is part of our church community that can be a source of spiritual encouragement to the rest of the people there.”
Watkins, whose wife and sister are nurses, said he was especially sensitive to the challenges health care providers are facing. Since posting on Facebook asking medical personnel about their most urgent needs, the church has received donations from members and non-members alike.
The funds allowed them to assemble packages that include snacks, coffee, toiletries and devotionals. The church was also able to purchase about 200 N95 masks to donate. Watkins said nurses also asked for hand lotion because the increased hand washing and sanitizing have made their skin dry. Nurses told him that snacks were more helpful than gift cards because they don’t have time to take lunch breaks or order food.
Florida Baptist Convention reduces budget
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP) — Florida Baptist Convention leaders announced a budget reduction in response to the COVID-19 crisis via a statement on the convention’s website.
The statement, in part, reads:
The following reductions have been approved:
— Compensation to both salary and benefits for all Florida Baptist Convention staff reduced immediately.
— All Florida ministry-related budget line items reduced by 30 percent to include the convention’s contributions to the Cooperating Ministries of the Florida Baptist State Convention.
These immediate adjustments are designed for the utilization of resources which allows the convention to continue to be ‘right beside’ our local churches. This includes the following programs established for financial relief to Florida Baptist churches in financial crisis:
— Interest free COVID-19 emergency loans to churches as bridge loans to aid them in meeting immediate financial obligations over the next two months.
— A two-month moratorium on payment on all current loans administered through the Florida Baptist Convention for the months of April and May.
Additionally, convention leadership affirmed its continued promise to funding, without reduction, church planting efforts through SEND Network Florida.
The leadership of the Florida Baptist Convention remains committed to support, strengthen and encourage our local churches and pastors. As this crisis continues to develop and the financial implications are further understood, additional budget adjustments will be evaluated.
Texas church offers grocery relief during pandemic
LONGVIEW, Texas (BP) — More than 100 at-risk families in Longview, Texas, have had one less thing to worry about in the last few days -— how to acquire groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Beginnings Baptist Church plans to ramp up its Grocery Relief Program to help 200 families each week throughout the crisis.
“There are kids and families who are being directly impacted by the coronavirus in ways that we cannot even imagine,” George Willis, pastor of missions and pastoral care said.
As he has helped get the program going, Willis has seen single parents, elderly people, and widows trying to make adjustments to a new living situation without leaving their homes.
“When you donate groceries or come help volunteer to assemble and distribute groceries, the food goes to people who truly need the help,” he said.
New Beginnings is partnering with three local school districts to deliver food to 128 children enrolled in the schools’ Backpack Program while schools are closed. The program serves children who are at risk of going hungry on weekends and during the holidays. School staff identifies children who show signs of hunger and malnutrition and discreetly distribute a backpack of food for them to take home.
Moore, other pro-lifers oppose abortion promotion during pandemic
WASHINGTON (BP) — Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore joined other pro-life leaders Tuesday (March 24) in urging public health officials to act to prevent the promotion of abortion during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and more than 50 other representatives of national or state organizations called for the action in a letter to Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The letter, organized by pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, said Planned Parenthood and other organizations are promoting and performing abortions while other elective procedures are being delayed. By discontinuing abortions, Planned Parenthood would make medical equipment that is in limited supply available as the coronavirus spreads in this country, protect women who may require care from an overtaxed health-care system after post-abortion complications, and reduce the burden on emergency rooms, according to the letter.
“Life is sacred in every season, but that should be especially obvious in the midst of a public health crisis,” Moore told Baptist Press in written comments. “We must take every measure necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, and that includes stopping Planned Parenthood from exploiting vulnerable communities in danger now from a potentially deadly virus on top of their already violent actions.”