The COVID-19 global pandemic is now impacting on every part of the Communion. Following official public health advice, churches are suspending public worship services and other gatherings. This is vital to prevent the spread of the virus, save the lives of the most vulnerable, and protect the health services from being overwhelmed by cases. In many parts of the world churches have moved to online services, while others are using local radio or even connecting through a tolling church bell to call people to shared prayer at the same time but in their own homes – together in spirit while remaining in lockdown to help prevent the virus spreading. Today the Anglican Alliance is launching a resource hub to share learning on how churches are responding effectively to COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
At the Anglican Alliance our global team has been connecting with churches in each region to learn about their experience, to gather examples of effective responses and, above all, to share in fellowship at this most difficult of times. It has been inspiring and encouraging to learn how churches are adapting to the current challenges: maintaining common worship even when we can’t gather; upholding a shared life of prayer; sustaining connections to encourage those living in isolation; and continuing to serve the most vulnerable in our communities while following safety guidelines. We have also learnt from the wisdom and resilience of those parts of the Communion which have faced epidemics and other crises in the past. In the midst of the troubling headlines there is still good news of gospel hope to be heard.
In these times it can feel as though a storm has arisen with the waves crashing ever wider across our world. We are reminded of the storm in the gospel story when Jesus and his disciples were out on the Sea of Galilee. (Mark 4: 35-41) What is the ‘storm’ that we are experiencing in the time of COVID-19? It is not just the virus itself; it is also the suffering of those who are ill or lonely, those who are fearful, those who do not know how they will earn their living or where their next meal will come from. It is the loss of our gatherings for worship. It is the intense pressure on health services, on the economy, on all our daily lives. Yet Jesus promised that he is always with us. We turn to him in prayer as we face the storm. And he called us to be the Body of Christ. Today Jesus is working through his people to calm the storm of COVID-19 – through our words and actions.
So what should we be saying and doing to overcome the fears and calm the storm in the time of COVID-19? What shall we do to be the Body of Christ in our world today?
The answers to these questions are reflected in churches across the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Alliance has held a series of regional and global consultations to learn from responses across the Provinces. We are also engaging with the World Health Organisation and with other Christian and secular agencies to learn from their expertise.
Today the Anglican Alliance is launching a resource hub on our website to highlight the key areas of church responses to COVID-19 and provide links to useful guidelines. This will be a growing resource hub over the coming weeks. There are two sections: knowing the facts and how the Church can respond.
The “knowing the facts” section covers:
- Key facts from the World Health Organization: How the virus spreads and how to prevent it.
- Countering misinformation
- Guidance for churches: on following official guidance; maintaining shared worship when not able to gather.
- Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in crowded settlements
- What is COVID-19 / Coronavirus?
- What is a virus?
The “how the Church can respond” section covers:
- Spiritual and theological resources: prayers, bible studies, reflections
- Supporting community preparedness
- Supporting people living in lockdown: including caring for children, home schooling, coping with stress and family pressures, tackling domestic violence
- Church and community engagement
- Sustaining hope and care for the most vulnerable
- Building a more connected, resilient and compassionate society for the future
- Examples of resources from around the Communion
- Other resource hubs on faith-based responses to COVID-19
This is a living resource, which is under development and being updated as the situation develops. Please provide us with your own contributions where requested. And please let us know if there are other topics you would like, be emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week we will publish a resource called: “Faith in a time of COVID-19”, with information, bible studies and prayers.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has talked about the Church providing ‘hope and comfort’ during the pandemic. We have seen this borne out by churches across the Communion. In a message to the Bishops of the Communion, Archbishop Justin Welby said: “May God keep you and bless you. May God keep the whole Anglican Communion. May we reach out to the suffering and the vulnerable, to the poor and the ill. May we show courage and bravery, knowing that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.”
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