New York Congregation Continues Pandemic Response
By Jaymie Dieterle
In the summer of 2020, the United Community Church of God in Laurelton, New York, secured Change the Story funds to provide personal protective equipment (PPE—masks, gloves, hand sanitizer) for vulnerable members of their community. The congregation’s youth distributed over 100 packs of PPE during a surge of the coronavirus in their community. United Community had experienced the deadly impact of the virus firsthand, losing members of their church family. The risk and the need had become personal.
In the months since their PPE distribution, the congregation has continued to serve and reach out to their community to combat the impact of COVID-19. Rev. Dr. David Collymore, MD, is the executive pastor and youth leader for the congregation. Because of his spiritual and medical roles, he has been perfectly situated to speak to the community about the pandemic. As vaccines became available towards the end of 2020, Rev. Dr. Collymore scheduled an opportunity to speak to his community about vaccine concerns and safety, hosting a Q&A over Zoom following online services for the church. He also was part of a panel of medical and pharmacological experts talking about the vaccine for the National Inspirational Youth Convention. (The video of the panel is available to view on the NIYC Facebook page.)
United Community has not yet resumed in-person worship services due to the ongoing battle against the spread of COVID. They did hold a funeral for one of their congregants who passed away from the virus, and they were able to preach from the church for their Easter service. But the COVID limitations are not holding them back from outreach. While the pandemic has been headline-grabbing news for over a year now, there are non-COVID needs around the world, as well, and United Community is committed to making a difference in those events, too. Sis. Karen Providence-Meyer, a member of the congregation, was born on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean. St. Vincent is the island where the La Soufrière volcano recently erupted after being dormant for over forty years. The volcano continues to spew sulfuric ash on nearby communities. Thousands of residents have been displaced and many are in need of assistance. The United Community congregation is facilitating a collection drive for hygiene supplies, led by Sis. Providence-Meyer. The materials they collect will be sent to the Fair Hall Church of God in St. Vincent so they can distribute the items to those in need.
Like many other congregations in the movement, United Community Church of God has used the connections, the passions, and the expertise of the people in their congregation to make a difference, not only in their corner of New York, but also around the world.
United Community Church of God is one of several congregations to receive a Change the Story grant. In these dire times communities are experiencing desperate need, and churches are struggling to respond. The Change the Story Fund exists to help congregations meet local, critical needs. Your gift of as little as $10 will provide micro grants that empower churches to Change the Story in their communities. Learn more and invest with your generous gift today at www.jesusisthesubject.org/change-the-story.
Help churches like these respond to urgent needs in their communities as a result of recent crises:
Jaymie Dieterle is a freelance writer with a passion for books, reading, and life-long learning. Jaymie has written adult Sunday School curriculum and a Bible study for Warner Press/Warner Christian Resources. Jaymie and her family live in Anderson, Indiana, and they are actively involved at Madison Park Church of God.
Feature (top) collage: PPE collected (left picture); Bro. Chris (left) and Rev. Dr. David (right) Collymore (right picture).