Connecting At Home
Written by Dylan Novacek, Content Specialist
“When I think of home, I think of connections that are meaningful. In that regard, I’ve had many homes.”
It is no question that COVID-19 has created a tremendous number of hurdles for every community. In a time where many feel it difficult to connect and make change, Rev. Nate Melcher and his congregation at Richfield United Methodist Church have taken a creative approach to staying connected in their Beacon mission.
“Our congregation has begun hosting a series of pop-up gatherings called ‘Camp Meetings’,” Nate shared enthusiastically. “In the 1800s during expansion across the prairie, people would gather for weeklong camps of worship, prayer, and connection. So, I set up my tent in the home office.”
These pop-up gatherings feature speakers who give different insights from the pandemic. People who have faced self-isolation, poets – and of course advocates for Beacon. As a collaborating congregation, those at Richfield United Methodist aim to keep the issue of home on the top of their mind.
“We were supposed to host Families Moving Forward right before the pandemic hit,” Nate shared. “We were lucky to have Emily, our Congregational Organizer, share Beacon’s response and how we can still help those without a stable home during this unstable time.”
Emily was touched by how Nate seized the moment and brought the congregation together online.
“We virtually gathered around as though at camp, with guitar led by a guest musician and some biblical reflecting trying to make sense of this upside-down, unpredictable moment,” Emily shared, beaming with energy.
“I was blessed to be invited to add Beacon’s take on the opportunities for people of faith in these times and concrete things people can do right away to make a difference as the vast disparities are revealed,” Emily added.
As a hands-on congregation, volunteers were eager to step up in new ways to support families without a stable home. Congregants shifted from hosting in person to delivering food to shelter families staying at local hotels.
“It takes creativity to do it well. Despite social distancing restrictions, we delivered the food to families with a safety-first mindset,” Nate continued. “Although we cannot share our time with these families like before, this work is still important and fulfilling to us all.”
It takes at least $15,000 more per week to support our residents in Beacon homes and families in our shelter program. From additional cleaning to moving guests into hotel rooms, we cannot meet these needs without the support of advocates like those at Richfield United Methodist and our nearly 100 other collaborating congregations.
“It’s important for not only our congregation, but our entire community that those without a stable home get support,” Nate said with confidence and passion. “This work is about compassion, face to face work, and immediate action. Working with Beacon helps us change our community at large.”
Through staying connected with each other, volunteering, and creativity, congregations like Richfield United Methodist keep working toward our vision that all people have a home.
“We’re a hands-on congregation, so it’s hard to be apart right now. But we’re going to keep working – we’re excited to be together again soon.”