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A special message to faith leaders from Shirley Fleming and Kirsten Peachey, co-directors of The Center for Faith and Community Health Transformation

The World Health Organization recently declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.  Understandably, you have many questions and concerns for yourself and those to whom you minister in your congregation and community.  It is a scary time!

We want to fight fear and equip faith leaders with information and resources to support the social, emotional and spiritual health and well-being of those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At this moment in history, as in times past, people of faith are called to use our gifts of power, knowledge and compassion to demonstrate love of ourselves and our sisters and brothers on the margins.

Faith leaders and faith communities can play important roles in helping individuals and families whose safety-net services will be disrupted during a pandemic.  Those roles can include:

  • Disseminating accurate information on ways to decrease the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 and to encourage compliance,
  • Dispelling myths,
  • Listening and giving voice to the needs of persons on the margins, including those experiencing homelessness and those who are under-resourced,
  • Organizing and supporting efforts to address food security, shelter and income security,
  • Advocating for needed resources, such as food for children who depend on school meals, affordable medication and transportation to resources. These historical problems are exacerbated in a pandemic,
  • Identifying resources and gifts in your faith community, such as services and pastoral/spiritual care,
  • Collaborating with other faith communities, public health agencies and social service organizations to better understand the needs of the community and to support public health efforts,
  • Creating and encouraging opportunities to share messages of hope,
  • Praying

Our brothers and sisters need our compassion, support and advocacy to ensure their basic human needs are met.  We are called to be a beacon of hope in times such as these.

The Center continues to compile a list of resources, including social service, faith community, mental health, and other resources.

The Center also is gathering stories of impact:  ways community members stay connected with one another, practice their faith and care for those who are most vulnerable – those facing food insecurity, homelessness, mental illness and lack of resources.

If you would like to submit your story, photograph or inspirational message, please contact Cindy Novak.

 

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A joint project of Advocate Health Care & the OCEAN-HP at the University of Illinois at Chicago.