Faith In A Time Of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - What Can The Church Do?

The Zimbabwean government plans to start 30 days of lockdown regulations following an increase of coronavirus infections during the festive season, vice president Constantino Chiwenga said late Saturday.

“Gatherings are reduced to not more than 30 people at all funerals,” Chiwenga told reporters in the capital, Harare. “All other gatherings at weddings, churches, bars, bottle stores, gymnasium, restaurants are banned for 30 days. Restaurants, bottle stores and bars are closed for 30 days except for bars and restaurants serving hotel residents.”

In light of this announcement, what can the Church do? 

It is important to note that whilst we are in a very difficult time, the world and the Church have faced very difficult times in the past – and come through them. 
Faith In A Time Of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - What Can The Church Do?
 Faith In A Time Of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - What Can The Church Do?

It is therefore important that we face this current situation with hope, that we encourage one another, learn from one another and, especially, that we have special care for those already most at risk in our communities. God is with us, for “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

What Can The Church Do?

From the Church’s experience of responding to other emergency and epidemic situations, we know that there are three key roles the Church can play in such times to promote preparedness and resilience:

1. To give hope and combat fear with accurate information and encouragement through our faith in Jesus Christ.

2. To keep the worshipping and wider community connected, if necessary via messages, phone and online, in case of quarantine and disruption.

3. To show God’s compassion and care to those affected in our communities, remembering that those already most vulnerable will be most affected.

As the Church, we are called to be a voice of calm and reassurance, affirming that God is with us.

A. The Church's General Response:

1. Build hope and sustain the connections of community.

2. Follow government guidelines in each context.

3. Create a COVID-19 Task Force. It can include church, public health, legal and communication experts, youth leaders, etc. so it brings together a range of skills and perspectives.

4. Communicate factual information in line with the government’s public health messages and counter misinformation.

B. Response Within The Church:

1. Put in clear hygiene and behavioural measures for prevention of infection within services.

2. Maintain worship life and spiritual connections virtually, through different means, when congregations are not able to gather.

3. Live-stream or record services for worshippers who are self-isolating and if services are suspended.

4. Coordinate pastoral and spiritual care to those church members self-isolating and support for that self-isolating in the wider community, by keeping in touch online, via phone, social media, through messages, etc. We can maintain ‘physical distance’ while being socially and spiritually close.

5. Support all worshippers to develop an Action Plan for their preparedness and response.

6. Develop Ministry Continuity Plans, in case any pastoral leader or key church officers are unwell.

7. Create public information resources: letters, news-sheets, videos, web pages and other resources – e.g. on precautions in worship, a spiritual message from church leaders, etc.

8. Build hope and address people’s fears and emotions at this time, using biblical and spiritual resources. (Examples of Bible studies and prayers will be uploaded shortly on this website.)

9. Send out service and prayer sheets so that worshippers can join in at home at the same time each day.

C. Response Within The Wider Community:

1. Maintain practical care, through safe measures, for the most vulnerable.

2. Remember those made more vulnerable through the situation, including those losing income and social support.

3. Support government initiatives on ‘circuit breaking’, closing down all or specific parts of society to slow new infection rates.

4. Encourage health workers who are carrying the greatest strain in this pandemic. Offer prayers, pastoral care and strong public appreciation.

5. Build community preparedness and resilience, identifying the people, skills, assets and resources in a community to prepare for the situation potentially becoming more serious – and to build community resilience for a swift and effective recovery once the pandemic has passed.

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