Editor's note: This story was updated on April 20.
Texas Baptists provided more than 275 grants to convention pastors across a diverse ethnic and cultural network since the launch of its new Pastor Relief Grant March 30. The new initiative seeks to meet the needs of Texas Baptist churches by providing short-term financial support to bi-vocational and small church pastors who have experienced economic difficulties through the loss of employment or church salary as a result of COVID-19. In addition to the grants, all Texas Baptist pastors who applied were offered free access to Teladoc services for six months.
“Covid-19 has created a financial crisis for many of our Texas Baptist pastors,” said Dowell Loftis, director of the Connections Team. “We are grateful that we were able to award grants and offer Teladoc services to Texas Baptists pastors who applied. If and when more funds come in, we will be in a position to award more Pastor Relief Grants.”
Approximately 50 percent of Texas Baptists churches have bi-vocational pastors, many of which have experienced economic hardships. Ira Antoine serves as Director of Bivocational Ministry and has heard from many ministers who have experienced significant difficulties over the last two months.
“Some of our bi-vocational pastors have lost their secular jobs which creates a strain on both their family and church life,” Antoine said. “Others have lost some of the income that comes from the church because the church’s contributions are down.”
Funds for the grants were provided through endowments funds, as well as the Pastor Relief Fund, coordinated through the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Individuals and churches who would like to donate to the fund to provide more grants for pastors in need, click here.
Additionally, Texas Baptist Counseling Services is available to serve pastors and their families through a network of more than 200 licensed counselors around the state.
“Counseling Services is always ready to support our pastor and churches, now or in the future, with counseling resources,” said Director of Counseling Services Katie Swafford.
Swafford also shared that many of the convention’s network counselors have made services available through telehealth or "video counseling" to meet the needs during a very stressful time.