Latest news briefing: Anglican Communion Responds to COVID-19

17 May 2020

This post brings the latest news briefing from the Anglican Alliance on how the Anglican Communion is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in their own contexts. In each place the churches are continuing to minister with compassion, courage, creativity and care, above all bringing hope, as God’s Church for God’s World.

This Easter season, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, the gospel story about the Road to Emmaus has deep resonance. As the disciples walked out to Emmaus that first Easter evening, their hearts were full of uncertainty, traumatised by the experience of Jesus’ crucifixion and yet with hope stirring at the reports that Jesus is alive.

We too are living at a time of great uncertainty, fearful of the pandemic which has swept the world and horrified by its catastrophic consequences, especially on the elderly, the poorest and most vulnerable. And yet, as Easter people, we carry the hope of our faith that God is with us all, even in the dark shadows of this journey. As we travel this painful road, Jesus comes alongside us, while the scriptures unfold God’s promises – and we know that one day, when this pandemic is over, we will be able to come together again to break bread, our hearts on fire like those disciples in Emmaus.

At the Anglican Alliance we are privileged and humbled to hear daily the accounts from across the Communion of how churches are responding to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everywhere, the virus, and the measures to contain its spread, are impacting not only people’s physical health but also their livelihoods, food security, relationships and mental health.

No one is immune to the pandemic, but people who were already impoverished, vulnerable or marginalised are being affected most severely. And yet in each part of the Communion we hear how the churches are there, serving their communities even in lockdown: praying, comforting, informing, connecting, feeding the hungry and building hope.

In this briefing we…

  • share what we have been doing in recent weeks to support the Anglican Communion’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • share how we are seeing churches across the Communion responding to COVID-19, including in supporting impoverished, vulnerable and marginalised people in their communities
  • highlight our COVID-19 resource hubs and Bible studies
  • look ahead in hope that we will all take the opportunity to reimagine our world

We hope that you find this news briefing useful and inspiring. Please pray for the Anglican Alliance as we continue in our work of connecting, equipping and inspiring the worldwide Anglican family to work for a world free of poverty and injustice and to safeguard creation.

How is the Anglican Alliance supporting the Communion’s COVID-19 response?

The Anglican Alliance’s relationships are proving invaluable in the new reality of COVID-19. They enable the Alliance to work collaboratively connecting and supporting the Anglican Communion to respond effectively to COVID-19, including through:

  • Convening a global COVID-19 task group to guide the response.
  • Mapping the COVID-19 context for all national churches.
  • A rolling programme of regional consultations on church responses to COVID-19.
  • Global consultations to share learning between regions.
  • Global thematic consultations and training webinars on emerging priority issues re COVID-19: e.g. community care for the most vulnerable; tackling domestic abuse under lockdown; food security; specific concerns for migrants; etc.
  • Developing a global online resource hub on our website in four languages.
  • Developing a series of Bible studies: Faith in the time of Coronavirus.
  • Regional facilitators linking with churches for technical input and accompaniment.
  • Global connecting of the relief response by churches in partnership with Anglican agencies.

Please check the website for further details, in particular the resource hub.

How are churches across the Communion responding to COVID-19?

The Anglican Alliance serves to share the learning from provinces and dioceses across the Communion, which are responding to the pandemic in compassionate and creative ways, including by:

  • Coordinating with national Ministries of Health to promote correct information and dispel misinformation.
  • Adapting patterns of worship to ensure safety, often using online, radio and TV platforms.
  • Continuing pastoral care for church members and vulnerable people in the wider community following safe practices.
  • Identifying those most in need within communities, ensuring access to food along with support and care.
  • Adapting processes for care and counselling for the dying and bereaved, working on phones and in coordination with health workers.

The “in more depth” section below has links to specific examples of responses and stories from around the Communion.

In more depth…

The COVID-19 resource hubs, which we have launched in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, provide factual information about COVID-19 and practical information about how churches can respond.

The resources in this hub have been carefully curated, based on the expressed needs of churches. It includes guidelines and resources synthesised from the Anglican Alliance consultations and links to useful external materials.

The particular value of this hub is that it focuses on the context of dioceses and local churches, combining key technical guidance with faith insights to guide a Christian response COVID-19. The hub is a living document, with weekly additions as the Alliance learns more about the potential and challenges of churches at this time. It bears witness to the Communion’s inspirational faith in action, responding to God’s call in the world at this time.

Subjects already covered include: knowing the facts; supporting community preparedness and resilience; how churches can support impoverished, vulnerable and marginalised people in their communities; supporting people living in lockdown (scroll down this page). There is also a growing section of stories about how churches across the Communion are supporting impoverished, vulnerable and marginalised people in their communities.

Bible studies: Faith in the Time of Coronavirus

COVID-19 is now affecting every part of the world, disrupting people’s lives and creating fear, anxiety, sorrow and hardship. Where can we find strength and hope at this troubling time? What might faith look like in a time of COVID-19? How might God be calling us to respond to the impacts of the pandemic?

To help Christians reflect on their faith and scriptures in the midst of the pandemic, the Anglican Alliance has produced a series of Bible studies called “Faith in the Time of COVID-19”.

These studies, provoking thought, prayer and action, were written in consultation with a small group of biblical scholars, theologians and church leaders from across the world and the foreword is by the Archbishop of Canterbury. We encourage you use these Bible studies and promote them in your churches.

Learning from our consultations

Since February, the Anglican Alliance has been convening regional and global consultations, as outlined above.  With examples offered from around the Communion, these calls provide a significant platform for identifying key learning on what issues are emerging during this pandemic and how churches can be most effective in responding.

This recent news story summarises the key areas of learning and concern that have emerged from these calls and highlights several examples of how churches are working to counter the spread of the pandemic and respond to its impacts, especially amongst impoverished, vulnerable and marginalised people in their communities.

Looking forwards

As we journey through this time of COVID-19, we remain aware of other deeper, long-standing emergencies – climate change, food insecurity, economic inequalities, displacement and so on. This period, a resetting of our global order, is also an opportunity to listen to God and reimagine our world. Our prayer is that through this time of COVID-19 the Anglican Alliance – as in all the churches and agencies participating around the Communion – will emerge with renewed hope, experiencing:

  • Stronger connections and mutual learning, regionally and globally
  • Stronger responses and greater resilience to face future challenges
  • Greater insight and capacity to support and empower the most vulnerable
  • Deeper understanding of God’s call to faith in action
  • A positive reimagining of our world, where the human family lives in harmony with each other and all God’s creation in our common home.