A Baptist congregation in Alabama has put its money where its prayers are by providing $16,500 in grocery gift cards to furloughed federal employees – and made national headlines in the process.
First Baptist Church Huntsville hosted a community wide event Jan. 18 for those out of work because of the government shutdown.
Senior Pastor Travis Collins told CNN that the church’s disaster relief fund, at $14,000, was emptied and another $2,500 was donated by members of First Baptist to purchase gift cards in $50 increments.
“In 30 minutes, they were all gone,” Collins told CNN.
CNN, Huffington Post and several other news agencies reported about the event. Stories about the First Baptist donations are being shared widely through various social media platforms.
Huffington Post reported that employees at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville contacted Collins, requesting the church host an event to connect furloughed workers with local charities and businesses. About 700 attended, Collins said.
He added that the church plans to find more ways to help.
Baylor lands major Lilly grant for music
The Lilly Endowment has awarded a $1.2 million grant to the Baylor University School of Music’s Center for Christian Music Studies.
The grant will be used for current programs in the Center for Christian Music Studies designed to strengthen youth participation in worship. This will include the annual Alleluia Conference and Worship Lab. The funds also will provide new programs for youth-focused spiritual formation and vocational discernment, Baylor said in its announcement of the grant.
Lilly provided the grant from its Strengthening Congregational Ministries with Youth Initiative.
“This Lilly Endowment grant will help Baylor’s Center for Christian Music Studies strengthen and support worship and music training for teenagers and their integration in worship leadership that is collaborative with older adults,” Randall Bradley, professor of both music and church music, said in the Baylor announcement. Bradley also directs the Center for Christian Music Studies.
Housing for caravan families
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is helping fund short-term housing in Mexico for 10 Central American refugee families.
CBF’s Fellowship Southwest said the families were part of a larger refugee caravan fleeing violence oppression in their home countries. The group of 10 families has decided to remain in Tijuana in order to find work while seeking permanent residency in Mexico.
The fellowship has established a website where donations can be made to help those families and other immigrants and refugees.