SYCAMORE – The Federated Church of Sycamore needs a new roof, estimated to cost at least $200,000.
But when the members of the small church’s congregation – about 50 people attend worship each Sunday – received their government stimulus checks, they decided to give the money to community members in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
As of mid-June, the congregation has raised about $18,400 to help community members affected by COVID-19. The Coronavirus Relief Fund is used to help pay for groceries, rent, utilities and medical bills.
“We could either take care of ourselves and our families or we could be a part of the community and pay it forward,” the Rev. Eric Ogi said. “During a crisis, you see the best and worst of people. We wanted to help in a real way and make a positive impact.”
Ogi said the congregation’s initial goal was $10,000. By working with the director of the church’s preschool and DeKalb County Community Gardens, more than 20 DeKalb County families in need have received monetary assistance.
“We hope to help another five to 10 families with what remaining money we have,” Ogi said. “If we receive any additional donations, we could help even more people and families.”
Ogi said the idea for helping the community monetarily began in early March, before the start of the pandemic.
“During Lent, the time leading up to Easter, I talked about the opportunity for growth and newness when bad things happen or the world falls apart – then the pandemic hit,” he said. “Then it became, ‘What can we do to live Christianity out?’ Being the Church of God is more than being a building.”
One way Ogi said his congregation wanted to help was by making sure the church’s preschool teachers continued to be paid and families were taken care of during the pandemic. He said that about 60% of the church’s preschool families are low-income and would qualify to receive free and reduced lunches.
“It’s not about charity, it’s about taking care of our community,” Ogi said. “If my neighbor is suffering, I am also suffering. We are all human and interconnected. … It’s an extension of the idea that my flourishing is bound up in your flourishing. Scripture calls us to bear one another’s burdens and to do bold acts of love. The relief fund is one tangible way to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
To donate to The Federated Church of Sycamore’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, send a check to The Federated Church of Sycamore, 612 W. State St., Sycamore, IL 60178 and write “Coronavirus Relief Fund” in the memo line”