New collaborative pools resources to offer assistance
April 2, 2020
SEELEY LAKE –Seeley Lake pastors and representatives from Missoula Aging Services sat around a big table at Seeley Lake Baptist Church March 19. Their conversation centered around working together to best serve the community through the coronavirus pandemic. Through this collective conversation they formed the new collaborative Seeley Swan Helps to pool resources to assist those in need and organize volunteers.
The seeds for the Seeley Swan Helps collaborative started around five years ago with weekly prayer meetings between Mission Bible Fellowship Pastor Craig Wilson, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church Reverend Carrie Benton and Faith Chapel Pastor Gary Wayne.
“We felt the need to pray together over our community and to get to know each other better,” wrote Wayne in an email.
Wayne has often told the group they are pastors to the community, not just their individual churches and congregations.
“We are not meant to do this alone, we need one another. We support each other through difficult times and celebrate with one another,” wrote Benton. “We all see the value of being brothers and sisters in Christ, which is much bigger than any doctrine or denomination. We don’t all agree on theology or doctrine [or politics] but we don’t let these get in the way of the fact that we share a common humanity and love for God. God is bigger than all of what we think divides us.”
While other pastors have been invited and have joined occasionally, Benton, Wayne and Wilson have been the core group until this past fall when Seeley Lake Baptist Church Pastor Jim Johnson started regularly meeting with the group as well as retired pastor Bill Campbell. Through their meetings a unity of spirit grew as they supported each other and prayed for their congregations, the other churches, their families, the schools and the community.
During one of their recent prayer meetings, Benton, Wayne, Wilson and Johnson came up with the idea for a collective service effort for the area.
“We were individually aware of different needs in the community and felt that working together we could better meet a broader group of people in need,” wrote Wayne.
The group met for the first time March 19 including Holy Cross Lutheran/Faith Lutheran Pastor Erik Iverson, Pastor Heatherann Wayne and Missoula Aging Services’ Resource Specialist Linda Howard and MAS Care Transitions Coach Chris Christofferson into the group.
“There seemed to be a need for some level of organization,” said Benton explaining that the group wanted an equitable way for people to receive help and a way for those offering assistance to help. “We thought that if we could work together to coordinate with other helping organizations in our community, it would increase the net of support.”
The pastors and MAS created Seeley Swan Helps to provide the organization and connection point for volunteers and needs. Wayne said it is the group’s hope to meet both the spiritual and physical needs within the community.
“Overall it is to help people not face their needs by themselves but come alongside to help whatever they are facing,” wrote Wayne. “COVID-19 affected every one of us, so we thought together we could help.”
Seeley Swan Helps currently offers assistance for delivery of groceries, mail, prescriptions, medical supplies and meal delivery to those who fall in the “at greater risk” category including elderly and those with disabilities or other health concerns. There are also resources for financial assistance for COVID-19 related emergencies such as utilities, rent or other necessities.
“This network is an answer to prayer, as we asked the Lord to give us wisdom to serve and minister to our community,” wrote Wilson in an email. “All of the churches have mechanisms in place to help those with needs, however we felt the need to coordinate with each other during this recent COVID-19 crisis. Different churches and organizations have specific resources to offer, and it has been helpful to combine our efforts to offer more resources working together. Our prayer is for our community to rest in the shelter of the Lord and to trust in God’s love and care for us.”
If you need assistance or would like to volunteer to help, please call the designated SS Helps line 406-239-9617 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To apply for assistance, please fill out the Google form available online at https://forms.gle/mZAdLNpktQQ22Yte6. Hard copies of the application are also available at Cory’s Valley Market, Glen’s Automotive, Rovero’s and Heritage Plumbing. Information collected is kept in a private/confidential place.