threat in the US for 18 months now, is soon to be behind us, or taking a second run with vaccination challenges and variants that are harder for our systems to fight off. At Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), when the pandemic began in March 2020, staff immediately kick started discussions on how to address the inevitable financial woes that would hit some of our members and clients hard–such as pastors and other employees of churches, districts, and camps.
Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to Honduras, where relief work continues following last year’s Hurricanes Eta and Iota; to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the Brethren in Goma continue aid to those affected by the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo; to India, in support of the COVID-19 response of IMA World Health; and to Northern Plains District, which is helping organize rebuilding following the derecho that left a trail of destruction in Iowa last August.
An additional allocation of $40,000 supports the Church World Service (CWS) rehabilitation program in Honduras for families affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota. CWS has longterm partners in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala that provided emergency relief programs and were supported by an initial EDF grant of $10,000. CWS has updated its response plan to include the rehabilitation of livelihoods and housing in Honduras. The goal of the program is to support 70 highly at-risk families in rebuilding their homes and livelihoods.
A grant of $30,000 for the Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG) response to the hurricanes was approved concurrently with this grant. All programing will be coordinated by and between CWS and PAG, a long-time partner of Brethren Disaster Ministries. In the past 10 years, support has been given through the shipping of canned meat and EDF grants for PAG’s relief work following various storms. After Hurricane Eta, PAG quickly organized a relief program that included providing 8,500 family food bags for a week of provision, used clothing, mattresses, health kits, blankets, shoes, and family hygiene kits. These items reached 50 communities before Hurricane Iota struck. The relief work has continued after Hurricane Iota, reaching more communities and providing medical aid in more remote regions.
Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to help Eglise des Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC) respond to the eruption of a volcano near the city of Goma and to respond to the families displaced by violence who have fled to the city of Uvira. Grants for COVID-19 relief work also are being given to the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela and to Bittersweet Ministries in Mexico.
When the pandemic hit the US in full force in March 2020, it quickly became apparent to some that financial pressures were impacting a group of pastors and church, district, and camp employees. Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) was one entity that quickly realized the need.