Dubbed “Our Faithful Comeback,” a new grant initiative zeroes in on small, faith-based organizations, whose community outreach efforts have been made more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, Shelby County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eddie Jones, and Shelby County Commissioner Reginald Milton launched the “Our Faithful Comeback” grant fund to assist 170-plus small, faith-based organizations set up a virtual option for congregation services.

In addition to organizations receiving live-streaming equipment and set up, another 50 small faith-based organizations received a $1,500 reimbursement for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Faith-based organizations, including churches, synagogues and mosques with 100 or fewer active members are still eligible to apply for support until December 18. Qualified applicants may apply by visiting www.shelby.community and clicking the Our Faithful Comeback Grant button. 

“Some residents in Shelby County rely on places of worship for their most critical needs, including food ministries, clothing ministries, and so much more,” said Jones. “When places of worship cannot offer virtual services, there is a risk of not having a way to communicate with their members or community. Our Faithful Comeback ensures smaller faith-based organizations stay connected and safe to remain operational during this time.”

Harris said the Memphis-Shelby County community depends on churches, synagogues and mosques to serve some of the most vulnerable populations.

“Several small faith-based organizations in Shelby County have halted in-person services to slow the spread of COVID-19, and have struggled to stay connected to their members,” said Harris. “We hope this program puts these organizations in a position to re-connect with their members safely.”

The impact of COVID-19 has caused some places of worship to close indefinitely, said Milton.

“Although some places have been able to re-create connection through virtual services, smaller places of worship often do not have the finances or know-how to support this. It is an honor to support a grant that will deliver to these organizations the means to connect with their communities.”

Pastor Leon Jones Jr. of The Dwelling Place Christian Church is among those to already have received support through Our Faithful Comeback.

“I am truly thankful to Shelby County for providing a grant for live-streaming equipment,” said Jones. “I had a great experience working with Forever Ready Productions. They are professional and helpful. The process was quick and seamless; I picked up my equipment on Friday and was streaming on Sunday.”

Pastor Josh Germany of New Heights Memphis said, “The equipment provided through Our Faithful Comeback has transformed the experience of our congregation during this difficult time. This has been such a blessing to our church.”

At St. Paul Douglass Missionary Baptist Church, Lady Beverly Ann Davis is heaping praise on Shelby County Government and Production One for what she called “a blessing to our ministry with this grant. 

“I was amazed at how easy it was to set-up and operate the camera. Because of this grant, we have been able to connect with our members online via live-streaming.”