Galileo Church’s Story: The Impact of the COVID-19 Response Grant

Rev. Dr. Katie Hays preaching at a Galileo Church service pre-pandemic.Rev. Dr. Katie Hays preaching at a Galileo Church service pre-pandemic.

Interested in applying for a COVID-19 NBA Response Grant? Click here for more info and to apply. 

In mid-March, when it became clear that sheltering-in-place was about to be our new normal for the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic, my thoughts turned quickly to the precarious finances of workers in the gig economy.

Galileo Church claims lots of low-wage, hourly-wage, one-gig-at-a-time workers among our beloveds. There’s the guy who sometimes leaves worship on Sunday evening saying, “I’ve got to do six Uber runs tonight to make rent tomorrow; pray for me.” Or the musician who plays for a nonprofit that sends live music to hospitals and nursing homes, a niche industry that dried up completely when the pandemic surged. Waiters, bartenders, singers, substitute teachers, ticket takers, yoga instructors, childcare workers, ice cream scoopers, delivery drivers, construction workers—we knew we were about to face a tsunami of unemployment and financial need in our congregation.

Galileo has always had a Helping Hands (HH) fund, from which we assist co-conspirators and friends in need. The first policy we wrote when we were a newborn church in 2013 delineated how we set aside money for that fund and how we share it. In keeping with best practices, we do not normally give out cash to individuals; we pay specific bills (utilities, new tires, partial rent, car payments, prescriptions).

But we wanted an easier, lighter, more thorough response for the pandemic crisis. Our Missional Logistics Team decided immediately to revise the Helping Hands policy for this season. Before the end of March, we began giving block grants of $250 to any co-conspirator or friend of the church who asked. We announced in our Facebook groups and our e-newsletter: “If you’ve lost your job, lost shifts, lost wages, lost tips due to the pandemic, we can help.” Checks went out efficiently. We wasted no time with hoop-jumping. If someone asked again, we said yes again, and again. We’ll keep saying yes for as long as the government’s unemployment system is clogged, or our beloveds remain ineligible because of the nature of their pre-pandemic work.

To make this pivot, we had to reroute money from our general fund into the designated Helping Hands fund. Because we would not be meeting in person for a while, we guessed we would spend less on food and drink for our fellowship this year. We slid $3,200 from our small group budget into HH and authorized our Lead Evangelist and our Spiritual Care Team to share it all away.

Individuals began responding with generosity, too. Some sent gifts designated for Helping Hands; others made extra gifts to our general fund, trusting the promise of our leadership that we would not use the church’s money to “keep the church going while the church’s people are suffering.”

To date Galileo Church has given more than 27 Helping Hands grants of $250 each, and we’ve continued our practice of paying some specific bills, too. In a metroplex with poor public transportation, workers are only as capable as their vehicles allow. Tires and batteries are a frequent purchase on the church credit card.

We are grateful for the partnership of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as represented by the National Benevolent Association’s COVID-19 Response Grant. We have joyously said “yes!” so many times to many of God’s beloveds with that money! And with all those yes-es, we have communicated to the spiritual refugees who call Galileo Church home that God is on their side, materially and immediately, no exceptions, and no hoops.

Psalm 27:13 says, “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” It’s a good day when the church helps God vindicate that kind of trust.

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Interested in applying for a COVID-19 NBA Response Grant? Click here for more info and to apply.

As the health and social services general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the National Benevolent Association partners with congregations, regions, general ministries, and a variety of Disciples-related health and social service providers to create communities of compassion and care. Founded in 1887 by six women responding to the needs of the day and on their doorsteps, for more than 130 years the NBA has continued to serve “the least of these.” Learn more at