Some churches help communities with gas giveaways
Among the free food, games and other prizes being offered at an event hosted by the Family Life Christian Center in Clinton, Iowa Saturday, is a chance to win a $100 fuel card biggest incentive Senior Pastor Kenny Hilliard Jr. has promoted to convince him to fellowship.
“I want you to know that we will be offering $100 gas gift cards to those who come to services. A portion of this will be raffled and you can win $100 for Family Life Christian Church,” Hilliard said in a video posted to his church’s Facebook page Tuesday night.
“Why are we doing this?” he asked.
“Because gas is high!” He answered his question matter-of-factly, confirming that he was aware that the national median price of gasoline hit a record $5 a gallon in June.
“That’s exactly why we’re doing this. … Since the gas is high, we want to get you high and let you know you can have $100 for family life … because it’s all about family,” he said.
Some economists have warned that petrol prices will rise this summer as passenger demand rises amid rising inflation. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the annual inflation rate was 8.6% in May, the highest since 1981. That means the purchasing power of every dollar earned by workers in America has eroded by almost 9%. .
President Joe Biden has asked Congress to suspend gas and diesel taxes for three months through September, Yahoo! Finance reported, but some finance experts say it won’t help much.
“The average adult in the United States uses about a gallon of gasoline per day,” Jay Zagorsky, associate professor of markets, public policy and law at Boston University, told Yahoo! finance. “If President Biden is able to push through a gas tax holiday, the typical adult will save a little less than $6 a month. At a time when inflation is above 8%, an extra $6 doesn’t make much of a difference.”
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, agrees, suggesting that $50 or $100 government stimulus checks sent to Americans might help more.
“If they need it for gas, they will be smart and save it,” De Haan told the news service. “And that may not have such a profound impact on gasoline demand, while still offering some sort of relief.”
As government officials bicker over how best to deal with high gas prices and general economic pressures being felt by American households, churches across the country, along with many other organizations, have taken to social media to announce that they are giving away gas giveaways. Earlier this month, the Progressive Union Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama, dubbed its $5,000 gas giveaway “Gas on God.”
In an interview with The Christian Post, Hilliard, whose church opened about six months ago, explained that the idea of handing out fuel cards came about during a planning meeting with his team at Family Life Christian Center. Some, who have traveled long distances to get to church, have expressed concern about gas prices, he said.
“There has been a little concern from people traveling to our church that the price of gas will go up,” Hilliard said. “What we wanted to do is, not only do we want to give back to those in our community, but we want to give back to those in our community because that’s what we’re here for, ultimately. We are here to help the community in any way we can.”
Last month, Pastor Chris Simmons, who leads Cornerstone Baptist Church, which serves a low-income congregation in Dallas, Texas, told Baptist Press that high gas prices have forced some of its members to forego in-person worship for online engagement, so they could keep gasoline in their tanks.
“Giving has gone down because people now have to choose whether to give or take gas to get to church,” Simmons told the news service. “It doesn’t just affect giving. It also affects visitor numbers because people don’t have the gas money and try to ration the gas. Some people have come back online for no other reason than gas.”
On Saturday morning, the Salem Baptist Church of Omaha, Nebraska, is also sponsoring a fuel card giveaway in the church parking lot beginning at 9 a.m. until supplies last. And according to his senior pastor, Rev. Selwyn Q. Bachus, he’s simply trying to ease the strain on his church as well.
“Salem recognizes that rising inflation has impacted gas prices and is a daily strain on the resources of many families in our community. We want to express God’s love and support during these challenging times by offering a fuel card giveaway to offer some relief,” Bachus said in a statement Tuesday. “We look forward to helping our community fill up their gas tanks.”
Earlier this month, Life Changers Christian Church in West Allis, Wisconsin decided to give away $900 worth of gas by giving away the $15 precious commodity to every motorist. In less than an hour they used up their budget.
“That is the need at the moment. People have to go to work, they have to take their kids around,” the church leader, identified as Pastor Jay, told WISN. “[For] some people think $15 is a lot.”