September 1, 2020
Grants awarded to three Lutheran congregations to help ease social isolation of older congregation members
Impact1890–A National Lutheran Program is pleased to announce that it has awarded three “Rapid Response” grants totaling $10,325 to St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Williamsburg, VA; Muhlenberg Lutheran Church, Harrisonburg, VA; and Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Moneta, VA.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has lengthened, many older adults have found themselves cut off from one of their greatest sources of companionship and comfort, their regular worshipping communities. Executive Manager Kathryn Baerwald stated, “With funds made available after all staff travel and in-person meetings were canceled, we informed synods of the availability of the grants. We received three nominations and after reviewing the proposals, the Board of Directors decided to award grants to all three.”
Baerwald continued, “Although congregations are offering on-line worship services, some older adults need additional support in order to access these worship services. In other situations, normal recognition of the importance of older adults in congregational life may need to be done in different ways, such as small gatherings with appropriate distancing or continuing regular programs but modifying them to fit current circumstances.”
Impact1890 conducts periodic needs assessments to identify areas of critical need facing seniors who are aging in their homes. All grants must address at least one of the six areas of needs. Since 2014, the number one, most critical area of need has been social isolation. Older adults who are aging in place, whether in an apartment or a house that has been home for many years, have long faced the issue of being alone. However, the pandemic has caused increased social isolation which can lead to declines in both mental and physical health.
The 2020 rapid response congregational grant recipients are:
Muhlenberg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia
To gather the stories of their older adult members to recognize their lives and then honor these members in a socially-responsible way
St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Williamsburg, Virginia
To upgrade the sound system to enable older adults to better participate in remote worship services
Trinity Ecumenical Parish in Moneta, Virginia
To assist their 18 geographically-based ministry groups which support, in particular, socially isolated older adult members.
In 2019, Impact1890’s grants supported approximately 20,000 older adults. To read stories about the work of these grant recipients, please visit https://www.impact1890.org/impact-2/impact-stories/.