Open Doors Spiritual Matters: The strength of a community is shown in its ability to help others in times of need

The strength of our communities is in their ability to help those in need, and that is especially needed during the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Rev. Angela J. Cluney from Fallingbrook Presbyterian Church.


The well-known quote: “The church is not a building, the church is a people” has never been more true than during the past months as we have found ourselves living with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Churches and our attendees have had to rethink our understanding of what “the church” means to us; not only as people who come to worship God but also as congregations who strive to be faithful to the gospel through acts of mission, fellowship and outreach within our communities.

With most of our doors still closed to “in person worship” as well as congregational and community activities at the time of this paper’s printing, churches have had to seek out various ways that we might reach out beyond our buildings during this unusual time.

COVID-19 has encouraged us to start taking a good look at the communities in which we live and serve.

Over the years for many, the definition of “church” has varied in meaning, from a place of worship, to people sharing their faith during fellowship and outreach events. No matter the definition of what “church” is, we can rest assured that “church” is found “within its people” not “within the buildings”.

I would like to think that “church” is an opportunity for each of us to help respond to meet the needs of those around us in small acts in a quest to make our world better for all people.

Right now, we are all part of a world that is hurting due to various life events from the current pandemic, rampant discrimination and social injustices.

As we have moved beyond our own individual buildings into ministering and responding outside of our buildings through online platforms and new personal interactions, we have started to gain a better understanding of some of the needs of those who are calling out for help and what we must do as churches.

People around us are calling out loudly for us to hear them.

They are in need spiritually, physically and mentally. Many are seeking ways to connect with others looking for personal interactions as they combat social isolation in the process of trying to stay safe, and mental anguish as worries have become overwhelming for many. Some are calling out for social justice, as they strive to be able to meet their own basic needs financially for rent, medicine and food.

For the congregation of Fallingbrook, we have decided to think how we might help meet these needs by examining our ministry in this time and place.

We are just in the beginning stages, but we have started by responding to the increased need for food security, especially as local food banks such as the Churches by the Bluffs had to look at how they were handling client care and had to shut down temporarily during COVID-19.

Fallingbrook Presbyterian has met this need by starting small by making a “Little Blessings Box” that is filled daily, sometimes up to four times a day with needed food staples and personal care items. It sits on the corner of our closed building with a sign inside that reads: “Take what you need, leave what you can.”

We have discovered over the past few months, indeed it is “the people” who are “the church” and some of us are in greater need and some of us give graciously.

It is up to all of us together to respond faithfully to our common needs. As it is in meeting these needs that our communities’ strength will lie.

Rev. Angela J. Cluney is from Fallingbrook Presbyterian Church.

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