May 23—For decades, churches in
Thanks largely to an influx of approximately
Along with churches and other houses of worship, those organizations include religious schools, food pantries, individual clergy and organizations such as
While the federal money helped churches pay staff, utilities and embrace online streaming, some, including
For the past 15 years, the primary fundraiser for the church on
When the pandemic shuttered the church doors, bean supper coordinator
“A few people suggested that we try takeout but we were stuck in the mode of sit-down [meals],” she said. “After a spring and summer without doing them, my husband and I got cabin fever. We figured out that we could reduce our offerings, use three or four helpers, spread out and wear masks. It turned out that because the church is set back from the street and we have this large circular driveway, we were perfectly set up for takeout.”
From left (clockwise):
When they held the first takeout supper in November, Allen and her fellow kitchen workers weren't sure if anyone would come, but the takeout option brought in nearly twice as much money as the sit-down meals did. Because they nearly ran out of beans in March, the church cooked 8 more pounds of beans in the following month.
Even when the church can hold sit-down meals beginning next week, it will keep take-out meals as an option, according to Pastor
“We saw the handmade signs out by
She said getting takeout from the church led her to think about attending the church.
Like Myshral, nearly 33 percent of
About 60 percent identified as Christian, with 21 percent of that population identifying as Catholics, which is the same number as those who said they belong to mainline Protestant denominations. Evangelical Protestants make up about 14 percent of
From left: Pastor
The state's largest denomination, the
Almost every revenue account the diocese has was lower than the prior year, led by parish offerings, which was down almost
Finances for the diocese are looking better for the fiscal year that ends in June, according to
“Investment performance has come back strong and, with the return of parishioners and the incredible support offered by Maine Catholics over the course of the pandemic through electronic giving and other generosity, things are certainly looking up,” he said.
“The financial shortfall came due to the disruption and cancellation of the fundraising activities that churches normally do such as church suppers, community dinners, auction events and art shows, thrift shops,”
Other large denominations in
Independent evangelical churches also needed loans to survive the pandemic.
Some small congregations, especially those that did not own and maintain buildings, had an easier time with finances during the pandemic.
“Not having a physical building to support was a blessing in disguise,”
This small independent church, known in the
That organization, located on the former Bangor Theological Seminary campus, shuttered its doors. As many churches did last year, Destiny held outdoor services in a parking lot for as long as the weather allowed it.
Like most churches, Destiny, which considered merging with
“Apostolic Lighthouse has everything a church needs and we don't have to set everything up and take it down before and after services,” Hurst said. “But having a
While Destiny and other congregations did not lose core members during the pandemic, they did lose occasional worshippers who did not show up every Sunday.
“We are going to have to be creative, in a different way than we were during the pandemic, to get them back,” Hurst said.
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