Arkansas Congregation Declares Jubilee

Like many congregations adjusting to the uncertainties presented by COVID-19, Pulaski Heights Baptist Church adjusted. 

Initially intending to return to in-person worship services for Advent 2020, the holiday spike in new COVID-19 cases caused them to reconsider their plans. After a time of prayer and discernment, the congregation decided to remain virtual but become engaged in other ministries that would assist the community.

Beginning in March, the congregation created the Jubilee Fund to help provide rental assistance and other financial support services to families in need.  Taking its name from the biblical practice of “jubilee” described in Leviticus, where every 50 years, debts were cancelled and slaves were freed, the Jubilee Fund is designed to help give families a fresh start.

Commenting on the impact of the ministry on congregational morale, Pastor Matt Dodrill of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church said the ministry has provided the church with some much-needed spiritual release after the disappointment of being unable to return to in-person worship service.

“I was concerned that would be a demoralizing thing for our congregation, so what I decided was instead of letting this put us in a rut, let’s have a time of reflection after the sermon every week where we talk about what we as a congregation can do that’s different from anything we’ve ever done before,” he said. “Here we are in this global crisis that’s affecting not just the world but our local community, and we are a church called out by Jesus Christ to address these kinds of issues.”

Emerging out of conversations parishioners were having about housing inequities, debt, joblessness and the general shortage of food, medical supplies and clothing, the congregation decided to act.

The church formed a committee consisting of members who had expertise in social work, politics and laws related to property rental and tenant matters. Prayerfully discerning God’s call, the church challenged its members to give $10 to $20 weekly for the duration of the pandemic.

The result of the campaign was the Jubilee Fund.

Pastor Dodrill said, “The response was naturally very positive because this venture grew out of their discernment. The way I presented it to them was, ‘Here’s your ministry; here’s the thing we’ve been talking about all through Advent.’”

People requesting assistance from the Jubilee Fund must complete an application that is then reviewed by a committee that makes an award decision.To learn more about Pulaski Heights Baptist Church Jubilee Fund, please visit https://www.phbclr.com/jubilee-application.

Source: Baptist News