Community faith leaders urge Congress to support faith-based institutions amid coronavirus pandemic

The American Flag flies at the U.S. Capitol Building, as Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on Capitol Hill in Washington
REUTERS/Tom Brenner`

Faith leaders across the city are urging Congress to consider the needs and the public contributions of the nation’s diverse faith institutions as part of the Federal Relief legislation that is currently in development. 

The faith community made their appeal in a letter sent to President Donald Trump and federal elected officials on March 23 saying that fellow faith institutions across the nation are facing a similar crisis to small businesses and larger institutions. 

“Faith institutions and other non-profits across the USA rely on large group gatherings to operate, and do not have the resources to pay salaries and maintain their facilities for community use when these public gatherings are suspended,” the letter said.

According to the leaders, faith-based organizations, typically supported by the congregational collection plate on the weekend, provide desperately needed public spaces and programs across the week, including feeding programs, housing, medical aid, legal and other counseling services.

The leaders said that the public need for space and public programming provided by its faith-based institutions, congregational meetings and financial support have ceased.

“In this regard, we also stand with Leadership 18 and our national non-profit and faith-based partners in urging an infusion in emergency funding to enable the nonprofit sector to continue serving vulnerable communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter said. 

Additionally, the leaders are also asking Congress to consider faith-based institutions as a willing and capable resource to partner with local, state, and federal agencies as they seek to address the crisis.

“As we have seen in the creation of offices of faith-based and community partnership that now exists at every level of government, faith-based institutions have the expertise, physical space, and collective fortitude to do what is needed to support multiple communities,” the letter said. “Indeed, we are already receiving specific requests to use our spaces to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, including for housing and hospital beds. Our institutions are and will continue to be a resource during and after this crisis passes. But we need assistance to do this work – distributed across the variety of diverse faith institutions serving the wider public in the city, state and nation.” 

“Public support is desperately required now to support our faith based community institutions during this pandemic and later when our country seeks to recover and rebuild,” the leaders added.

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