Coronavirus and the Church: What a Church Is Doing to Tackle the Rising Considerations of C … | The alternate
Ed: Give us a glimpse of what it is’We want to be a pastor in the midst of the increasing spread of COVID-19 both worldwide and here in North America.
Mitch: We are used to having our lives in North America under control, but one small mistake humiliates the most powerful nations in the world. People are afraid. Hand sanitizers cannot be found, toilet paper and detergents are rationed in stores, and spam is unavailable. And I love spam. It's easy to find an illusion of control by constantly looking for more information on the Internet. COVID-19 has debunked our illusion of control and losing control triggers fear.
Ed: What measures did Wellspring take to take care of the people in your community?
Mitch: First, we demand an attitude of faith, not fear. When our illusion of control is exposed, we must walk in a faithful devotion to whoever is in control. In practice, belief does not mean stupidity, and we have recommended general precautions such as hand washing, cleaning, and protocols to protect vulnerable people, as recommended by the CDC.
We also identified and changed common church practices that could spread the virus quickly:
- Instead of shaking hands, we bow, knock on the elbow or wave. We demonstrated this with humor on Sunday.
- Instead of handing over a sacrificial plate, we have a box in the back of the sanctuary and encourage more members of our community to donate online.
- Instead of taking the bread for communion from a common plate, we will put the bread in the hands of our people with gloves.
- For those who are sick or worried about getting sick, we have a live streaming option to worship online.
- Since older people who are most at risk may also have the least knowledge of how to access this option, we are developing a chain of calls to see if they need help with this.
- We also work for seniors to put together a small group to worship together with the livestream.
Ed: Fighting this pandemic requires both wisdom and belief. What is it like to live in faith amid such a global health threat?
Mitch: As this virus brings the world to its knees, we are pastors from our knees. Being humble is a place where we can receive and release grace. Last night we spent an evening in prayer praying for medical staff, our community and ourselves. We learn from our international workers from all over the world and hear from our international workers in Wuhan, China, as well as from others who have experienced the Ebola crisis.
We release blessings through prayer.
Faith goes hand in hand with modern medicine. The church in 260 was "without regard to the danger (and) it took responsibility for the sick" (Dionysius, Easter letter); In 2015, the Church in Guinea also took over the sick during the Ebola crisis, which was filled not only with hearts of love, but also with buckets of bleach by the Eau de la Vie Ebola team. Many did so at the cost of their own lives when the villagers reacted fearfully.
We can also fill in bleach with the love of Christ and buckets. We can help you set up live streaming worship options, a phone call, additional toilet paper, or a word of encouragement. Our primary stance should not be protection, but should show the love of Christ.
We don't overcome fear with information; Fear is overcome with faith. A consumer society tries to overcome fears by continuously consuming information from unreliable sources. A church leader who survived the Ebola crisis urged us to adhere to prayer, word, and information from a few reliable sources.
Ed: This crisis can also be an opportunity for witnesses. How can our churches start thinking about meeting people where they are emotional and spiritual as a result of what they feel / experience as a result of COVID-19?
Mitch: We have to keep our eyes open for what is happening in our own communities. Our response may not be as dramatic as that of the early Church in AD 260, but we should keep our eyes open for the practical needs of those around us.
When college students return home early from their campus, we should enter their grief with love, arms outstretched, and food. A lot of it. Since international students in our congregations may not be able to return home, we can open our homes and hearts to them to be the family of God for them. When stocks of necessary goods run out, we can share our hand disinfectant and toilet paper.
Simple acts of love with great compassion have great power to show the love of Christ.