Kansas church helps community face challenges amid coronavirus
Pleasant Hill Church of the Nazarene stepped up to the plate when the state government closed schools for the rest of the academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to an already existing relationship between the church and the local elementary school, the Pleasant Hill Church offered to help the school as they move to an online learning program for the rest of the year.
“When I heard the governor close schools for the rest of the year, I immediately contacted our school superintendent, principals, counselors, and lunch staff to offer our church’s help in any way,” said James Davis, pastor of Pleasant Hill.
Church leaders learned that not every student has internet access in order to participate in online learning, so Pleasant Hill offered its Wi-Fi to the district.
“Of the 10 students that needed assistance with Wi-Fi, eight of them use our church grounds,” Davis said.
Although there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in the area, the effects of the virus have begun to creep into the rural Kansas town. Many of the town’s residents work in nearby cities — including Hutchinson, about 30 minutes away, and Wichita, about 75 miles away — and some are starting to lose their jobs.
Another issue is the fact that Sylvia doesn’t have a grocery store. Residents have to travel outside of the city limits to get their groceries, a difficult task for those who may be at a higher risk for COVID-19.
In November, Pleasant Hill opened up a food pantry, unaware how much it would be needed in the coming months. They now serve 12-15 families a week who are struggling with income due to layoffs and furloughs because of the pandemic.
Davis now sees the opportunity the church has to make an impact during this challenging time.
“This current reality is challenging for everyone, but it is also an amazing opportunity to embody Christ in our communities,” Davis said. “We cannot worship together at the church address, but we worship God continually through our daily lives. Our lives present a better and more public witness to others than enduring hours of sermons.”