Ministry at the time of Coronavirus (Covid 19): Prevent, cure and accompany
March 17, 2020
My dear Vestry family, good morning and blessings. I have started the day with this question: How can the church continue to be a church if people cannot meet in the same space? Definitely with the latest news from Asia, Europe and the United States, it is important that we take this virus seriously and at the same time help people avoid panic.
First of all, I invite you to keep up-to-date with correct information about this pandemic by visiting this website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) daily: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Second, about the Church and the coronavirus, our Diocesan Bishop Andy in his communication dated March 13, 2020 for the diocese has said and I quote: I will not issue a comprehensive directive to close the churches of the Diocese of New York or to order the suspension of public worship throughout the diocese, because our circumstances are too different in our geography and 200 churches for a general policy: https://www.dioceseny.org/the-church-and-coronavirus/.
Yesterday, Monday, March 16, our Bishop has changed his decision and has called for the complete suspension of public worship for the next eight weeks (until May 17), but with a review of the policy immediately after Easter. I will be coming to church and keeping the doors open for pastoral care, that is, to prevent, heal and accompany. Our Holyrood Church will not close the doors to the community. It remains a space for prayer and reflection and I will be accessible for pastoral care, here or at people’s home. If you can offer volunteer services, that will help a lot, especially to open and close the church.
Now we have to shape what some have started calling; The Church at Home. Although I keep asking myself; What do those who do not have a home do? For this reason, at the same time, I am declaring today in our Holyrood Church a Lenten day of prayer, fasting and reading the Bible in the Time of the Coronavirus.
Third, knowing what to do in a crisis can be an important ministry for our church and community. Hence, it seems to me that it is of great importance that we immediately create a Pastoral Ministry of Health to work in the prevention, healing and accompaniment of sick people. If you want to be part of this ministry let us know.
Fourth, the reality of suspending public worship forces us to move to have to make greater use of technology. I am referring to live TV broadcasts to be able to see and / or hear Masses. Hence, the fact that our church already ordered the purchase of the equipment we lacked to be able to broadcast our worship meetings live. We will soon have the opportunity for those who cannot be present at Masses to participate from a distance.
Fifth, the church's administrative offices will be open Monday through Thursday; from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm. To take calls and take care of people who need guidance.
Sixth, although public activities have been suspended, our Community Kitchen (Food Fest) on Wednesdays and Fridays will continue to operate. Remember that we have a Hunger Pandemic which is being exacerbated by food shortages in supermarkets and by abuse of price increases. I am working closely with Jacqueline Kellum-Foster and Paula Miranda who coordinate this ministry. The changes are that no one meets to eat in the Parish Hall, we only give them a bag of food to take away.
As I said to you yesterday in the reflection, the reality of the Coronavirus has put us in the midst of a humanitarian emergency crisis that demands our empathy and solidarity love as a priority, but all this without losing hope.
The Biblical reading of the prophet Habakkuk (1: 2-4) forces us to be sincere when we answer this question: Who has not ever lost hope? Unfortunately, we are living in a time when it is easy to lose hope. The Coronavirus crisis is one of these hopeless realities. However, allow me to remain you that hopelessness dishonors God. It degrades God, the Almighty, an impotent force, which insinuates not only that He cannot, but also fails to fulfill His promises. Hopelessness in practice involves a rejection of the Scriptures as the Word of God. Those who are hopeless ultimately means that they have lost the faith, which is, as we know, essential to the Christian life. Those who have fallen into despair set their sights on the world's resources, instead of trusting in God's ability. Those who have lost hope, as Hebrews 12: 3 says, “tire” until they “pass out”. Let's not lose it.
In solidarity love