Christians around the world are facing something new with COVID-19. We need each other — for ideas, for encouragement, for hope. Our “Ministry During COVID-19” series are conversations with a diverse array of leaders, all over the globe, about how they’re coping and how God is showing up to unite and strengthen the church during this time.
To view this conversation, visit https://youtu.be/eJqYhZ3SG_I
Lord Elorm-Donkor, Ph.D., is currently serving as District Pastor of Church of Pentecost in the United Kingdom, which is a Pentecostal denomination that grew out of Ghana. He is also Principle of the Birmingham Christian College.
What is the ministry like in your context right now?
Our Christian ministry is going on as usual though in a different form and through a different medium. The UK lockdown started in the third week of March 2020. Since then we have had to move all our ministry activities—evangelism, training, bible studies, pastoral care and visitation, counselling, leadership and prayer meetings and Sunday church services—online. At my local assembly in Wolverhampton, we started streaming our Sunday morning services from the 22nd March 2020 on Facebook live and on YouTube. All other activities are carried out on the Zoom platform. We are amazed at how the human being can quickly adapt to new realities and ways when there is a threat. Irregular members and other non-members have become regular recipients of our ministry and benefited hugely from the grace of God at work in us.
What relationships or partnerships are being formed across denominations or faith groups?
We have had to contact the Churches Together in England for updates on the government taskforce for churches re-opening on some occasions to understand what we need to do before we get back to meeting physically at church. Also, the Elim Foursquare Alliance that we are part of sends regular updates on government policies and guidelines for those affected by Covid-19 and we have followed closely and been part of those conversations, though virtually. Other churches from across the continent contacted our media team for help to get their church services streamed online. We also contacted other churches about how to procure new equipment that could enhance our streaming. It is amazing how everyone was willing to help each other do what they wanted to do to bring ministry to their members.
What are the lessons you have learned about faith and your people that will outlast this pandemic?
The first lesson we have learnt is the power of human beings to adapt and remain resilient in face of threat. The second lesson is that the Holy Spirit cannot be boxed in.
Personally, I had always considered physical meeting of the saints as a central requirement for true Christian fellowship. But this period has taught us that virtual meetings can also achieve the same purposes for which we meet physically.
We also learnt that we can actually do more online than we have considered in the past. For instance, we have held Sunday school for children successfully when their parents set their children up on Zoom and sit with them throughout the sessions. For most parents this is the only time they have participated in their children’s Sunday school activities because normally, when they arrive at church they just send the children to Sunday school hall and pick them up when the adult church is over.
What has the COVID-19 pandemic revealed about global realities, particularly for the most vulnerable populations?
Covid-19 has shown that no one is an island of their own and that we are very connected, more than we usually realize. In the UK, the Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME) seem to have suffered more. Some brothers and sisters have been called to glory from some of the churches in our denomination in London because of Covid-19. Most of these are front line workers in the transport, healthcare, and helping sectors. The social and economic inequalities in our societies have been highlighted by the impact of Covid-19.
How can we shape the post-pandemic future to look more like God’s kingdom for those people?
As churches, we need to focus on being holy in the way that Jesus taught us. Although the customs of Jesus’s religious community used holiness to insulate themselves from others, and also to segregate others from themselves (by not relating to or having any direct contact with those who were considered profane) Jesus went directly to the profane. He said that he was sent because of the sick. He used table fellowship with sinners to show that actually holiness is about relating to the so-called profane so that it could become holy (Luke 5:27-32). In this sense, our holiness should become more activist oriented to challenge and change the unnecessary barriers and social injustices that still exist in our communities until we have made Jesus the Lord of all.