When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, churches in central Houston recognized the need for collaboration to effectively respond to the crises in their community. So, in April of 2020, S. Main Baptist Church, City Church, First Presbyterian Church, Houston's First Baptist Church Downtown, and St. John's United Methodist Church began championing the formation of Houston Responds Central Coalition. Central Houston is highly diverse both ethnically and socio-economically, so local church leaders knew that it would be essential for the coalition to accurately reflect their diversity to best serve their community. Today, around a dozen churches make up the coalition with the leadership of a six-person advisory team.
Over the past few years, the central Houston area has not seen the same amount of storm damage as other parts of Houston, so there is less need for rebuild efforts. The coalition’s primary focus in 2020 was community crisis response for COVID-19, food distribution, and responding to the needs of our Louisiana neighbors affected by Hurricanes Laura and Delta.
Central Coalition churches played a significant role in coordinating with the City of Houston to help launch the Masks For All project. They worked tirelessly producing masks to help ensure everyone in the community would have access to a mask amid the pandemic. Together they formed multiple mask distribution sites where they also provided food and other necessities. They also provided over 10,000 disposable masks to Bread of Life food pantry. More recently, HR Central has been participating in blood drives and hosting COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.
A member of the advisory team, Mary-Floye Federer of First Presbyterian Church, shared, “One of the blessings that emerged during the difficult times of the pandemic was working together with churches that would become Houston Responds’ newest coalition, the Central Coalition. . .The weekly calls with churches in our area led to deepening connections and opportunities to discuss and respond to other issues facing our communities like the racial injustices, the hurricanes to the east, and the winter storm. Collaborating together as churches allows so much more to be done for God’s glory in times of crisis.”
When Hurricanes Laura and Delta hit southwest Louisiana, HR Central was active in collecting and distributing essential supplies the disaster-affected communities. Supplies and volunteer teams were sent to Louisiana to help them begin the recovery and rebuild process.
Over the last year, HR Central has been purposeful not only in its formation but also in its work in the community and beyond. The coalition has actively recognized work already being done by local organizations and has been intentional about not duplicating efforts. Their goal is to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate to most effectively respond to crises and be better prepared for future disasters.
To learn more about our coalitions and how to get connected, visit www.WillingtoRespond.org.