By: Elizabeth Matear, Commissioner
Secretary for International Ecumenical Relations
Isolation is the new normal in these days. As I write this Holy Week I read ‘Behold the hour cometh…that ye shall be scattered’ (John 16:32). Our Faith has to be worked out in the reality of our circumstances. Worship is no longer possible in the physical community. We are learning to embrace the positives of a digital community and social platforms. For The Salvation Army, we endeavour to connect as an International Church. The Worldwide prayer meeting continues weekly, focusing on a set agenda and regional focus. The General, Brian Peddle, has been giving regular broadcasts to reach out to the 131 nations, where we operate. The same is happening nationally. Prayers are said at noon each day. Locally Churches in many locations, are organizing on-line worship. Pastorally there is a structure to connect with individuals and households, to share scripture and prayers on the telephone. We need to respond to the spiritual and physical needs that present themselves e.g access to Bible study and worship materials.
In terms of service to communities and those suffering as a result of the pandemic, we are having to meet new needs, be flexible and adaptable, ensuring adherence to local requirements and practising safe distance. We are in partnership with others to receive donations, distribute food and necessities to those whose resources are limited or who are in isolation. Hospitals and Residential Centres for the elderly, homeless, addicted, women and children are adjusting to best help their catchment areas. Night shelters and safe houses are seen as essential, including the network of drivers to transfer people.
Business and management have to make use of video conferencing facilities as most are working from home. Divisional triage teams match staff and volunteers for deployment to mission critical roles.
The Universal Church is not in isolation and invisible, but essential, not divided but one in faith.