• Last modified 694 days ago (Jan. 14, 2021)


COVID sticks its hand in collection plates

Staff writer

Many churches in Marion County have been offering in-person services for several months, but their funding still is taking a hit.

Marion Christian Church is one house of worship where giving has decreased, though pastor Carl Helm is keeping a positive outlook.

“It kind of evens out, really,” he said. “You might see some decrease in the amount you take in, but then your expenses go down as well.”

The effect at First Baptist Church has been similar, where pastor Rodger Charles says there is an effort to minimize expenses without skimping on outreach.

“How can we cinch our belt in areas that aren’t going to affect the ministry of the church?” Charles said.

That could mean a church has to lower the heat in their building or cut down on how long the lights stay on, he said.

More than the effects on the church, Charles has seen an impact on Peabody Alliance of Churches. The group has been applying for grants to boost funding, by Charles says that money isn’t a sure-thing.

“We can’t guarantee that money is going to come in,” he said. “We can’t go out with big sticks and fleece the flocks. Benevolence is something you have to want to do.”

A factor that helps slightly at Marion Christian Church is that a few more mail-in donations are coming in each week, Helm said.

In Peabody, too, Charles is seeing people donate by mail from outside Kansas, sometimes sending money and other times merchandise.

“I don’t ever remember getting money from anybody out of state,” he said.

Charles thinks the donations from abroad are partly thanks to the success of broadcasting services online.

He has noticed people watching the church’s services from Portland, Oregon, to New Jersey, and even abroad in Germany and Australia.

Attendance is about half of what it was before COVID-19, so services are live-streamed for people who still are not comfortable attending in person.

“We have a couple members who can’t come to church,” “They’re under doctor’s orders, so they watch from home.”

Other churchgoers are itching to get back to their place of worship, like Bob Priest a member of Eastmoor United Methodist Church. He is anticipating finally attending church in-person Sunday after months of virtual services.

I miss the times together with the people,” he said. “I look forward to when I can see people face-to-face.”

Priest notes there are risks that come with in-person services, especially as someone in his 80s.

“In the back of my mind you’re just aware that one is more vulnerable at my age,” he said.

Before Eastmoor made all services streaming, around 50 people were regularly attending services, Priest said.

“I should be happy staying home and watching TV, but it’s not the same thing,” he said. “There’s not the fellowship.”

There has been a mixed reception to wearing masks Marion Christian Church, but the decline in attendance has made accommodating churchgoers easier, Helm said.

“Several are, several aren’t,” he said. “The big thing is that we’re running about half of what we were before.”

Last modified Jan. 14, 2021