Faith leaders under stress during the coronavirus pandemic can build resilience

Webinars from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance provide tips and tools

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE  — Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has released two pre-recorded webinars on handling stress during the coronavirus pandemic.

One webinar is designed for faith leaders and the other is for a more general audience. Groups also can request a live presentation.

The “Building Resilience” webinars are intended to help viewers remain flexible and functional despite a deadly pandemic that has forced much of the country to stay sequestered at home and cancelled many church services.

Rev. Dr. Kathy Riley, PDA’s Team Lead for Emotional and Spiritual Care, serves as co-presenter with Rev. Pat Ashley, a member of PDA’s National Response Team.

Rev. Dr. Kathy Riley

“We know you are all busy, probably extra busy as you are re-inventing how you are serving others … and working with technology that may not have been familiar to you before this time,” Riley acknowledges near the beginning of the webinar for faith leaders.

Stress that arises during such hectic or difficult times can lead to negative health consequences as well as feeling tired and unable to focus, according to the presenters. However, there are ways to mitigate it.

“The moment we notice our personal stress responses popping up we have the opportunity to step into that space … and plan our response,” Ashley said. “If we’ve been practicing our tools, we can use one in the moment to interrupt our stress reaction and make other choices.”

Rev. Pat Ashley

Throughout the webinar for faith leaders, the presenters provide opportunities for viewers to reflect on what’s important to them and to practice stress-management techniques, including breathing exercises.

The presenters also suggest helpful lifestyle changes.

For example, “getting between 6 and 8 hours of sleep per night is linked to better mood, better overall feelings of well-being and can reduce the impact of stress in our lives,” Riley said during the presentation.

Relationships also are important for building resilience, said Riley, who suggested finding a buddy or “intentional listening partner.”

“You may just need someone to talk to when stress has gotten the better of you,” she said, “and it has gotten the better of all of us at some point.”

You can view the webinars by clicking here. For more information, contact

The work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is supported by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

1001 New Worshiping Communities are invited to a webinar at noon Thursday, April 16, that will be accessible via ZOOM and live-streamed on Facebook. Experts from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance will join with the 1001 staff to offer wisdom and support for pastors and caregivers in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Details to join on Zoom:

Meeting ID: 587 435 155

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