|Worship service at Lovely Church. Source: Baptist Press|
As the death toll for COVID-19 related deaths in Brazil continues to rise, many Brazilians in the northeast of the United States find themselves trapped—physically and emotionally, unable to travel to mourn the loss of loved ones.
“They can’t return to see them, visiting when someone dies or when someone is seriously sick,” said Lovely Church Pastor Antonio Luis Ferreira, in an interview with the Baptist Press. “They feel the pain of their loved ones at a distance and of their own solitude here, too far from home. So, the church has been their only family in [this] country.”
Lovely Church, or First Brazilian Baptist Church, has a congregation of nearly 80 people, located in Peabody, Mass. It’s one of 42 Portuguese-speaking in the Baptist Convention of New England, according to the organization’s ethnic ministry coordinator Joe Souza.
For a number of reasons, many Brazilians are unable to travel to Brazil to help their families when a relative dies because of COVID-19.
“This is probably the worst time for Brazilians,” Ferreira said. “We have many Brazilian families that are losing family members in Brazil, and they don’t have conditions to say goodbye and stay with their families, for the legal or economic reasons.”
That’s where Lovely Church has stepped in.
“First of all, we have helped families with food donation, not only church families, but also and especially non-Christians, church friends and their relatives,” he said.
Food, medication costs, and utilities are just a few things Lovely Church has been able to cover for some Brazilians, during the global pandemic.
Ferreira said he has also encouraged church members to get COVID-19 vaccinations and has helped them complete documents for unemployment and other COVID-19-related financial assistance.
He said 80 percent of the congregants have received at least their first COVID-19 vaccine dose. Ferreira also said no members of Lovely Church died of COVID-19. The church is gradually resuming onsite worship while following health guidelines including masking, social distancing, and cleaning.
Source: Baptist Press