The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27)
Anxiety continues to rise in our midst related to the continued spread of COVID-19, the “novel Coronavirus.” In the last few days, an increasing number of cases has led to declarations of emergency in cities and states. Texas and Louisiana, thus far, have seen very few cases, but the reality is, it’s simply a matter of time until it becomes more present among us.
Communities should be aware of, and utilize, a variety of tools to protect public health in times of any significant health crisis. These resources are provided from Lutheran Disaster Response and the ELCA worship team that supply information for communities to prepare and be pro-active in their preparations:
Congregational Planning Checklist for a Pandemic (updated March 1, 2020)
Worship in Times of Public Health Concerns (updated March 1, 2020)
Our partners in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone are also preparing. In communication with Bishop Momoh this week, he informed me they have been asked by the World Health Organization to be part of preparations for an outbreak in their country. Drawing on their experience educating their communities about proper hygiene during the Ebola outbreak, they are now being tapped to take up that task again and provide education and services in their communities. With the authorization of the NT-NL Synod Executive team, we sent emergency support of $2,500 for these efforts.
There are many resources for you and your community. My colleague Bishop Shelley Bryan-Wee of the Northwest Washington Synod, which has been the hardest hit area of our country, has prepared the following resource page as well, and I commend it to you. www.lutheransnw.org/covid-19
Martin Luther, in the midst of plague hitting Wittenberg, counseled those in his charge to make good preparations, to be wise in their care, non-judgmental of those who fear, and ultimately to trust in God. Luther, along with his wife Katie, ministered to those who were sick and saw this as an opportunity for witness and service for neighbor.
Our staff at Briarwood are preparing, and I pray all our NT-NL ministries will be wise in preparations and thoughtful in our work so that we might serve our neighbor. We live without fear because our future is secure in Christ. As such, we know that our work is focused on serving our neighbor and caring for those most vulnerable. I encourage all communities to be thoughtful in their preparations and their witness to God’s assurance and grace.