Seven ministry partners across Brazil have received United Methodist Committee on Relief COVID-19 Sheltering in Love grants to extend their caring outreach deeper into their communities. In a coordinated effort, through the Life and Mission ministry of the national Methodist Church in Brazil, Methodist congregations accompany vulnerable people through the COVID-19 pandemic. In a country without a coordinated government strategy to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, the outreach from a Methodist church may be the only help some of these communities receive.
Transmission rate of COVID-19 are currently climbing in Brazil. At the end of June, the country had 1.35 million cases and 57,658 deaths. The Rev. Joana D’Arc Meireles, the national secretary for the Life and Mission ministry, describes the climate in Brazil as “terrifying.”
“People are suffering,” Meireles explained a video interview with Global Ministries’ general secretary, Thomas Kemper. “We have hunger and unemployment and many sick people right now, and not everyone has access to good health care. For this reason, the Methodist church and the other churches in Brazil have united to plan ways that we can be more relevant in solidarity to address this situation in Brazil,” she said.
The Methodist Church provides general orientation and guidelines on COVID-19 prevention and social distancing online. It posts official resources, such as liturgy for funerals, pastoral letters and other support for local congregations. At present, all Methodist church buildings are closed for in-person worship and congregations are meeting virtually.
Yet, some congregations continue and even increase their social justice and outreach ministries. With assistance from United Methodist grants through the UMCOR COVID-19 Fund, more people are finding help in chaotic and uncertain times.