Editor's Note: California-Nevada's Rev. John Oda wrote the following commentary for UMNews about the good work that grants from the Asian American Language Ministry Plan makes possible in this time of COVID-19. A total of $22,000 in grants from the AALM COVID-19 Resiliency Fund were distributed to the following California-Nevada Conference churches: Modesto Cambodian UMC (Centenary), $2,000; Daly City UMC, $4,000, Grace UMC San Fransisco, $4,000; Point Pleasant UMC, $4000, Stockton Khymer Central UMC, $4000 and New Creation UMC, $4,000.
About four months ago, the Asian American Language Ministry Plan began to hear about some urgent needs that churches were facing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan’s committee quickly came together and created the AALM COVID-19 Resiliency Fund. As soon as the resiliency fund was launched, grant applications began to pour in from all corners of the country.
The Asian American Language Ministry Plan is one of the six National Ethnic Plans of The United Methodist Church. This plan works with all of the Asian American United Methodist churches across the U.S. to support and strengthen their ministries.
One COVID-19 Resiliency Fund grant went to the Laotian and Thai community in the Upper New York Conference. The Rev. Sonexay Chanthasone, or Pastor Sean as is he also known, heard about the fund early on and knew he had to apply for a grant to help his church members.
Chanthasone, who is the chair of the Lao/Thai United Methodist Caucus, worked with the plan to complete the grant application. He serves one church in Upper New York Conference but works with three other congregations in the area that are Laotian, Thai, Karenni and Nepali.
“The state of New York has been hit hard with this virus,” he explained. “There is a huge need for food with our new refugee communities. I have 30 or 40 different families that simply need food because the local food banks have been shut down during this pandemic and because many people have lost their jobs.”
With their resiliency fund grant, Chanthasone has been able to buy and deliver groceries to many families who need food. He also takes that opportunity to spend time with them and offer communion, being sure to use social distancing protocols while he visits.