For more than two months, Communications Ministries, part of the Office of General Minister and President (OGMP), has worked to connect and support the whole Church, as the COVID-19 coronavirus spread around the world, growing from outbreak to pandemic. This important call to nurture and serve congregations and other expressions of our Church has taken a new meaning in recent months, and this work is funded by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund core support and the Easter offering.
The first statement shared with the Church came from the OGMP, National Benevolent Association, and Week of Compassion on Feb. 28. This “Statement of Compassion and Care Concerning the Coronavirus Outbreak” encouraged Disciples to respond in informed and thoughtful ways, while approaching one another with an ethic of compassion and care.
Communication Ministries staff promoted the shared statement throughout the Church through all our regular channels, like social media and Disciples News Service, as well as sharing directly with the College of Regional Ministers and other general ministries.
As has been the case throughout this crisis, things changed quickly. One week later, Communication Ministries shared this pastoral letter to the Church about coordinating and responding to the outbreak from General Minister and President Rev. Terri Hord Owens and Week of Compassion Executive Director Vy Nguyen.
Throughout the month of March, as the virus spread, more communications were needed. On March 13, Rev. Owens shared a pastoral word in response to the virus, recorded and transcribed by Communication Ministries. She shared a word of encouragement and announced she was suspending her travel indefinitely.
Communication staff have since compiled a resource page for responses to this virus, and a subpage for worship resources for congregations offering virtual worship and fellowship experiences to address shelter-in-place orders around the U.S. and Canada. These pages are updated regularly and resources are shared on Disciples regular social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
As we move through the crisis, Rev. Owens is praying with clergy on Zoom video calls and offering Facebook live prayers at noon on Wednesdays with any who would join her.
And the Church is invited to a special online Easter worship service, in partnership with Suzanne Castle and Andra Moran of the Brim Project, which will feature a message from Rev. Owens. Communication Ministries will distribute these and other valuable worship resources to help connect Disciples on this holy day, as well as lift some of the burden of congregations unable to or struggling to offer worship online. Discrete resources (sermon, children’s moment, communion and offering meditation) will be available on Good Friday (April 10). The full Easter service will be available Easter Sunday morning on our YouTube channel.
While no one knows what the next month(s) will bring, Disciples can rest assured that all of our Church’s communication efforts are devoted to connect and care for our congregations, our wider Church, and each other.
Communication Ministries, part of the Office of the General Minister and President, is one of many general ministries supported by your gifts to the Easter special offering, received in many congregations on April 5 and 12 (and throughout the year via designated giving online).