The Church Responds to a Dynamic Pandemic
Because of the swiftly moving COVID-19 pandemic, the mandates for social distancing, and the shuttering of schools, businesses, and public places (including houses of worship), times have been stressful for everyone. It is changing daily, and in addition to the concerns for health and safety, the sudden halt in the world and the US economy has many people facing the loss of a job, or a business, or their life savings.
PRAYER FOR A PANDEMIC
May we who are merely inconvenienced,
remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
remember those most vulnerable.
May those who have the luxury of working from home
remember those who must choose
between preserving their health or making their rent.
May those who have the flexibility
to care for our children when schools close
remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel a trip
remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money
in the tumult of the economic market
remember those who have no margin at all.
May those who settle for quarantine at home
remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose love during this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us find ways to be the loving embrace to God and our neighbor.
— Cameron Wiggins Bellm, Jesuit Resource Online
But it has been a remarkable time to watch the Church claim its relevance as ministers and church leaders reevaluate their sense of identity and mission and grapple with how to adapt and be to one another the presence of Christ in each other’s lives and in their communities. I believe that this crisis is an opportunity for the Church to answer the question: how can we be relevant in this fast-changing age? The church is happening NOW. Only it isn’t happening within the walls, but within the hearts and homes of people longing for and finding ways to connect with one another.
Also NOW, ministers and church leaders need our prayers as they care for themselves and their own immediate families while also carrying the concerns of the members of their flock. Additionally, they are probably grappling with the trial-by-fire of shifting to online meeting platforms for day to day business, and to streaming or video production for worship opportunities — not to mention adding to the many worship details and logistical considerations already in place all of the new legal, technical, and practical ones that arrive with streaming.
LINKS TO SOME HELPFUL RESOURCES
• Alliance of Baptists
• American Baptist Churches USA
• Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
• Church of the Brethren
• Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
• Episcopal Church
• Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
• National Baptist Convention of America International
• Presbyterian Church (USA)
• Progressive National Baptist Convention
• Reformed Church in America
• United Church of Christ
• United Methodist Church
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Includes:
+ Holy Week in Uncertain Times
+ Funeral Practices during COVID-19: Praying for Wisdom in Pastoral and Liturgical Adaptations
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – (Post for Community and Faith-Based Organizations)
• Prayers During the Coronavirus Pandemic – Jesuit Resource Center, Xavier University
• National Council of the Churches
• Hymnary.org (a comprehensive online index of hymns and hymnals)
Thanks to Cartoon Church for their kind permission for use of their cartoon.
BEING CHURCH NOW FOR THE CHURCH IN THE FUTURE
Peter Marty, editor for the Christian Century, pointed out in his most recent commentary that the resource we most need during this crisis is human relationship. I tend to agree. So let us remember to extend to each other some form of contact each day.
This will be an interesting time to see what new gifts arise in people and in congregations down the road — what new visions and ways of being church and doing ministry will come about in the future as a result of being the church in the present.