Reformed and Presbyterian churches around the world are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic both within their own contexts and globally together.
The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), which includes more than 230 member churches in the Reformed, Presbyterian, United/Uniting, Congregational, and pre-Reformation traditions is in the midst of a discernment process which notes that the pandemic more fully revealed the injustices already at work in the world, including economic, ecological, and gender.
“COVID-19 has opened our eyes on many challenges and realities,” said Najla Kassab, WCRC president. “In the midst of our pain and struggle we see hope, mainly because God is with us and we are together, strengthening one another. This is a time of building a strong communion, a prophetic one, an impactful presence in every place that hurts.”
“The virus exposes the segregation we have built into our societies and the whole world over,” said Hanns Lessing, WCRC executive secretary for communion and theology. “We are very much called to respond on the theological level, but also on the political level, and also on the way we are being church.”
“What we do not need is a return to normal,” said Philip Vinod Peacock, WCRC executive secretary for justice and witness. “What is normal is what made this crisis what it is. This is an opportunity to build a new world.”
“We are trying to make the immediate response that will involve all levels of our family and will be both specific to dealing with the COVID crisis and also moving forward to our long-term goals,” said Chris Ferguson, WCRC general secretary.
Regional responses to the pandemic include online resource sharing and weekly theological reflections in the Caribbean and North American area, both continent-wide and country-specific virtual gatherings in Africa, financial assistance to struggling churches in Europe, and virtual worship resource sharing in Latin America.
“I think the COVID crisis really calls on us to reframe the script we’re using,” said Angela Martins, convener of the Caribbean and North American Area Council. “We are required by this virus to step outside of our traditional, single, global box and bring a renewed and refreshed theological understanding.”
The WCRC’s Reformed Partnership Fund, through monies donated by the Waldensian Church’s Otto per Mille, has provided financial support to churches dealing directly with the impact of the pandemic. This assistance has covered medical supplies, food relief, educational and informational materials, economic development projects, preventative measures and more in more than a dozen countries, including China, India, Kenya, Myanmar, Rwanda, and South Sudan.