The Rev. Stacy Stringer and Deacon Elaine Clements share how our gifts can meet needs created by COVID-19
On April 3, 2020, the Rev. Stacy Stringer, Director for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas Hurricane Harvey Recovery Program and Deacon Elaine Clements, Episcopal Relief & Development Partner in Response and Resilience shared ways individual and collective gifts within the Church can meet the needs created by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
ABCD DISASTER RESPONSE
Episcopal Relief & Development uses an asset-based disaster response model that focuses on matching gifts of the Church with the needs of the community. This means that there is no set response to disasters. The methodology allows for diversity and creativity in recovery efforts.
Our theology is expansive enough that it can hold life and death at the same time. It is good to look for moments of light and grace even in the middle of tragedy. There are many different types of gifts available to us now like video calls, relationships with government officials and first-responders, people with time on their hands, people who sew…the list goes on.
After disasters, there is a huge amount of need, including prescription medication drop off, help filling out unemployment forms, access to mental health care, among other needs. Research shows that most people also need: community, accurate information, and the ability to make meaningful decisions in their lives. Try to help offer those gifts to your broader ministry family. You won’t be able to meet every need, but you will be able to help some. Perhaps responding to COVID-19 means that you pick up prescriptions for one of your elderly neighbors.
The usual way we run ministries doesn’t quite work right now. However, the most important thing is to demonstrate care. No one knows what best practice is yet. Be safe. Follow the health guidelines and try to adapt your ministry as appropriate.
- Mundane does not equal unimportant.
- Food pantry grocery delivery instead of having a shared meal.
- Go digital: hold virtual affinity groups, ”remote” community dinners, church services or online tutoring sessions.
- Offer online counseling services utilizing trained chaplains and counselors in the congregation.
- Mobilizing members of your community to make masks if health care providers want/need that support.
- Call people regularly, especially those who live alone.
PHONE CHECK-IN CALLS
It’s okay to do a lot of listening. Ask people how they are doing, how are the people they love, and then gradually zoom out and ask about neighbors and/or the larger community. People may be willing to admit others are not “fine” while insisting they themselves are “fine.”