ABHMS grant helps Indianapolis church aid Congolese congregation

By awarding two COVID-19 grants to Crooked Creek Baptist Church, Indianapolis, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) has helped the small, graying church to support the Congolese refugee congregation that has given it new purpose and new life.

The150-member Congolese congregation was hit particularly hard by the pandemic. As businesses closed, individuals lost their jobs, which meant they couldn’t pay rent, mortgages, utilities and medical bills. Buying groceries became a hardship for some. The ABHMS grants provided a lifeline in a time of need.

“A couple of parents of small children needed money to at least keep a roof over their heads and have food on the table,” says the Rev. Dr. Donald Scott, Crooked Creek’s moderator and interim pastor.

In 2011, says Scott, the Congolese group—ranging in age from infants to those in their 50s—came to Crooked Creek in search of a building to use for their worship services as Grace Tabernacle Ministries under the Rev. Emmanuel Musinga.

“They’re human beings in need,” Scott says. “They presented the need, and the church [Crooked Creek] said ‘yes’ without much hesitation,” Scott says. “They’re fellow Christians, and it helps us to put Matthew 25 into action.”

While Crooked Creek worships on Sunday mornings, Grace Tabernacle worships 1-4 p.m. Sundays.

It was difficult for the Congolese, Scott says, when Crooked Creek closed from March 2020 to June 2021 because of the pandemic. “For them, the church is literally the center of their lives,” he notes.

The Congolese have held small conventions at Crooked Creek, thereby making the church important not only to the local Congolese community but also to others from the central African country now living across the United States.

“We feel we’ve been called by God to host this congregation. So it’s important for us,” says Scott. “It’s a way of being the hands and feet of Christ.”