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Mid councils share sorrows and concerns


Church leaders come together for COVID-19 response

by Melody K. Smith | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Fear, exhaustion and grief came through as the primary emotions as a group of mid council leaders gathered on a Zoom call last week. The group was brought together by the Presbyterian Mission Agency to listen to their concerns and learn how the Church might best help mid councils and congregations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Just as the virus is touching all shores and plains in the United States and across the globe, each person had a story to tell that was eerily familiar and individually unique. Stories of technology challenges were intermixed with examples of how resilient the human spirit can be. Adaptive solutions were found in short time where hurdles had once been encountered. Painful stories were shared of loss, grief and fear — fear for the small churches that were already struggling, fear for the families that can’t be with their loved ones in their time of need and fear of losing human connections.

As one participant said, “This disruption helps us to be aware of our blessings, and our neuroses.”

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, thanked everyone for sharing their stories, concerns and needs. “I want you to know that we hear you, we are praying for you in this unprecedented time and as leaders of the agencies, we are in conversation with one another about ways we can best help.”

The leaders of the agencies, as well as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, have made the commitment to meet regularly with one another as the situation evolves. Together they are compiling resources to add to the richly populated COVID-19 resource page on, identifying areas where increased awareness is needed on what is available to congregations and Presbyterians, and looking for new ways to directly address some of the pains — emotionally, spiritually and financially — that are being experienced.

As a direct result of their first conversation, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II released a statement on the need for churches to refrain from gathering physically until the pandemic is under control. “Tithes and offerings can be mailed. The most important thing is to take care of the vessels (the bodies) that God has given,” Nelson said.

The COVID-19 resource page will also contain an archive of communications and any further actions coming from the collaborative efforts of the agency leaders. It’s all to make finding the needed resources and information as easy as possible for users in this stressful time.

One of the mid council leaders said, “We need to have a Sabbath mindset about this.” Sabbath is about renewal and the need to nourish the soul through extra time. Much like the author of Psalm 46 reminds us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).

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