EDF grants go to Ohio tornado response, COVID-19 relief in the US, Rwanda, Mexico

Photo by Sam Dewey
Miami Valley, Ohio tornado tree and house damage.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to finance its tornado rebuilding work in the area around Dayton, Ohio, and to aid COVID-19 responses by Church World Service (CWS), Bittersweet Ministries in Mexico, and the Rwandan Brethren.

Another EDF grant also funds a second round of the COVID-19 Pandemic Grants program offering grants to Church of the Brethren congregations and districts in the United States and Puerto Rico who are carrying out pandemic-related humanitarian work in their communities.

To give financial support to the EDF and Brethren Disaster Ministries go to www.brethren.org/edf .


An allocation of $65,000 will finance the Brethren Disaster Ministries tornado rebuilding work in Dayton, Ohio, in 2020. The rebuilding project responds to the 19 tornados that hit the area on Memorial Day weekend last year, on May 27-28, affecting 10 counties. More than 7,000 homes were damaged and more than 1,500 destroyed, with most damage occurring in the Miami Valley areas of Harrison Township, Trotwood, Northridge, Old North Dayton, Brookville, Beavercreek, and Celina.

The Church of the Brethren’s Southern Ohio/Kentucky District responded quickly by beginning clean-up and debris removal. District volunteers completed rebuilding work on several homes with materials funded by the district. Several church members and Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers also have been involved in organizing and planning for the long-term recovery, meeting with community leaders and serving on sub-committees.

The Miami Valley Long-Term Recovery Operations Group will identify and assess cases and fund the materials for the new rebuilding project, which will be modified for the COVID-19 realities. Project supplies will be transported to Ohio from the recently closed rebuilding site in Tampa, Fla. Grant funds will be used for volunteer travel and expenses, tools, equipment, and leadership.

Only volunteers living within driving distance will be accepted at the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding site starting July 13, to serve a week at a time. Groups will be limited to 8-10 people and extensive COVID-19 protocols will be followed. The tentative plan is for out-of-state volunteers to begin serving in August. All dates are subject to change.

COVID-19 Pandemic Grants

An additional allocation of $75,000 continues funding for the COVID-19 Pandemic Grants program designed to help US Church of the Brethren congregations and districts provide humanitarian relief for vulnerable people in their congregations and communities.

An initial $60,000 grant for this program has provided grants to 14 congregations (see the Newsline report at www.brethren.org/news/2020/edf-makes-first-covid-19-us-grants.html ). Most of the grants support basic human needs of food and shelter for out-of-work and marginalized people.

Funds from this allocation will be distributed to congregations and districts through a grant application and approval process. Recognizing that predicting incoming requests is difficult, the $75,000 is intended to support the program through July 2020.

Church World Service

A grant of $20,000 supports the CWS Coronavirus Response. CWS is a long-term partner of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren. CWS has made a $2.75 million appeal to address this extensive global need through June 2021.

“Coronavirus and the measures governments are taking to protect their citizens are taking a toll on communities around the globe,” said the CWS appeal. “The pandemic is exacerbating existing crises and food shortages. Schools are closed, and students are disconnected from learning. Migrants and refugees worldwide are in precarious situations, often unable to socially distance or maintain needed hygiene standards. Jobs are drying up as economies struggle to adapt. Regretfully, we have now documented clusters of refugee families in the United States with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and are trying to assess ways to directly assist them.”

CWS is working with its branch offices and many partners to address pandemic-related needs around the globe including rental assistance in the U.S, childcare assistance, expansion of hunger programs, humanitarian assistance, and the shipping of CWS emergency kits to families in need.

This grant will be targeted to support humanitarian assistance, hunger- and poverty-fighting programs, support of global refugees, and CWS kit programs, which best match the intent of the Emergency Disaster Fund.


A grant of $10,000 has been given to Bittersweet Ministries in Mexico to support a feeding program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mexico has been experiencing a rapid spread of the virus, averaging 3,000 new confirmed cases and hundreds of deaths each day, and has been on a nationwide lockdown since the end of March, causing significant economic hardships especially for poor and marginalized people.

Bittersweet Ministries has been providing ministry and support to marginalized families in the Tijuana area for years, with a particular focus on people living next to the landfill. Community members live in unhealthy and cramped conditions, with some living off what they can collect from the landfill.

The ministry is expanding its work with three Tijuana churches and two ministry points to provide COVID relief to some of these at-risk families. In addition, the community of Aguita Zarca, in a remote area three hours from Durango, also is desperate for food assistance and has connections to Bittersweet and a Church of the Brethren congregation in the United States. Grant funds will provide emergency food rations at six locations: three churches, two ministry points, and the village of Aquita Zarca.

Food distribution at the Gisenyi congregation of Rwanda Church of the Brethren


An additional allocation of $8,000 responds to the COVID-19 pandemic in Rwanda, which is one of the countries with few support systems or aid programs to assist families in crisis and where the most vulnerable live day-to-day.

Etienne Nsanzimana, leader of the Rwandan Church of the Brethren, reports most people living in the community of Gisenyi used to have work related to cross-border businesses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are still closed. This grant will provide food and soap to 295 families particularly vulnerable to food insecurity, from the communities of Gisenyi, Mudende, Gasiza, and Humure. One previous EDF grant of $8,000 has been given for this appeal.

For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund and to give online go to www.brethren.org/edf .

Go to www.brethren.org/Newsline to subscribe to the Church of the Brethren Newsline free e-mail news service and receive church news every week.

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]