Churches’ Ebola response is model for future epidemics

first_img Associate Rector for Family Ministries Anchorage, AK Director of Music Morristown, NJ Family Ministry Coordinator Baton Rouge, LA Rector/Priest in Charge (PT) Lisbon, ME Rector Tampa, FL TryTank Experimental Lab and York St. John University of England Launch Survey to Study the Impact of Covid-19 on the Episcopal Church TryTank Experimental Lab Associate Rector Columbus, GA Rector Pittsburgh, PA Assistant/Associate Priest Scottsdale, AZ Inaugural Diocesan Feast Day Celebrating Juneteenth San Francisco, CA (and livestream) June 19 @ 2 p.m. PT This Summer’s Anti-Racism Training Online Course (Diocese of New Jersey) June 18-July 16 Curate Diocese of Nebraska An Evening with Presiding Bishop Curry and Iconographer Kelly Latimore Episcopal Migration Ministries via Zoom June 23 @ 6 p.m. ET Join the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in Celebrating the Pauli Murray Feast Online Worship Service June 27 Submit a Press Release Churches’ Ebola response is model for future epidemics Rector Hopkinsville, KY Course Director Jerusalem, Israel In-person Retreat: Thanksgiving Trinity Retreat Center (West Cornwall, CT) Nov. 24-28 The Church Investment Group Commends the Taskforce on the Theology of Money on its report, The Theology of Money and Investing as Doing Theology Church Investment Group Associate Priest for Pastoral Care New York, NY Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York Hires Reverend Kevin W. 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They paved the way for health staff to get access to the community. They were strong voices for prevention and against stigma. They brought back a humanity to the clinical and dehumanising process for safe burials. In the later stages of the epidemic, faith leaders were permitted to stand and pray with families at a safe distance, while the burial teams, in protective body suits and masks, buried the deceased.“Faith leaders used the Scriptures to think about how you treat people as children of God, with faith and dignity,” remarked Geoff Daintree, Church Advocacy Advisor at Christian Aid, a co-sponsor of the report.Participation of faith leadersAt the Anglican Alliance meeting, participants noted the growing awareness of the need for faith communities to be involved in humanitarian response as true partners not just instrumentalised as communication channels or service deliverers. Through dialogue, faith leaders can become central in promoting positive change and planning for recovery.The Ebola tragedy was a very powerful wake-up for the UN agencies on the need to engage faith leaders, said the Revd Canon Flora Winfield, Anglican Communion Representative to the United Nations institutions in Geneva.The Anglican Alliance will continue to work together with the Communion’s UN representation to advocate for the inclusion of faith leaders in emergency response and recovery planning. The World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 will be a key platform.Transforming fear into hopeThe faith leaders in countries affected by Ebola saw that they needed to engage in dialogue and reach out across “tribe, mission and religion” to create awareness of the issues, Bishop Emmanuel noted. “We [recognised that we] are challenged to work together, we should be united in reaching out and finding a way to get rid of the disease.”Involving all faith and traditional leaders was crucial. “[In Muslim-majority areas] it was very important to have the imam come so that people did not think we were coming to convert them,” the Rt Revd Jaques Boston, Bishop of Guinea and Guinea Bissau, commented.This included civil authorities, Bishop Emmanuel added. “[We saw we needed to] go beyond [our usual partnerships] so that we could share what we have and get them involved in suppressing the spread of Ebola.”“Medicine [men], those coming from church and mosque, politicians . . . we were able to strategise [together] and have a white paper that helped us,” said the Rt Revd Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Freetown.Echoing the premise of World Vision’s Channels of Hope initiative, Bishop Emmanuel said it had been crucial to challenge the dominant narrative of fear with Scripture-based messages of hope in order to engage people.“We need to give people hope at a time like this,” agreed Bishop Thomas, and highlighted the need for perseverance in this endeavour.“To change [mentality] it is not just one Sunday preaching or one pastor or imam, it is real engagement,” he said, adding that often lay people such as catechists were instrumental in helping pastors to overcome fear with messages of hope.Bishop Emmanuel recommended that the churches look at integrating how they are handling the response, talking about the issues and finding solutions within their normal programmes and ways of working.Bishop Jacques urged churches to take very practical steps to prepare for possible crises by establishing emergency committees in every diocese, setting up regular training courses in health care and social support, and budgeting for disaster response so that there would be a financial reserve in the diocese upon which to draw immediately if needed.Faith leaders also should emphasise that each person in the church has gifts to bring in such a situation. “Doctors, teachers – use the skills of everyone in the church,” said the Bishop of Bo.The Church must take the lead in times like the Ebola crisis rather than waiting to be drawn into the response, Bishop Thomas noted. “Start small but do something.”Janice Proud said the Alliance would continue to facilitate the mapping of responses to crises such as Ebola to determine the involvement of churches, agencies and link dioceses. This was particularly important in multi-country disasters like Ebola in order to bridge any gaps and avoid duplication, she added.The Anglican dioceses in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia also had support from others in the Anglican family of churches and agencies, including diocesan companion links, while people all over the Communion joined in prayer.The experience of the West African churches in responding to Ebola was very important for the Communion, said Anglican Alliance Co-Executive Director, the Revd Rachel Carnegie.“The Alliance wants to explore how leaders in other places can tap into this learning for challenges in their own contexts, especially with disease epidemics,” Rachel said.After the meeting, the three West African bishops travelled to the Church of England’s General Synod where they spoke powerfully of their experiences at a seminar hosted by the United Society.Related resourcesClick here for more information about the Anglican Communion response to EbolaClick here for Keeping the Faith”, a report on faith response to Ebola, commissioned by Christian Aid, Tearfund, CAFOD and Islamic Relief (pdf)Click here for more information about World Vision’s “Channels of Hope” (pdf)Click here for the World Health Organisation’s latest news update on Ebola in Liberia (14 January) Featured Jobs & Calls Rector Bath, NC Episcopal Migration Ministries’ Virtual Prayer Vigil for World Refugee Day Facebook Live Prayer Vigil June 20 @ 7 p.m. ET Priest Associate or Director of Adult Ministries Greenville, SC last_img

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