Maintaining Global Connections During COVID-19
In the midst of Holy Week we reflect upon the Passion of Christ, his final week, his journey to the cross as we prepare for the glorious celebration of Easter. For many of us this year, it feels as if we are living the Passion in a different light, as we experience the pain and suffering of the Coronavirus pandemic.
One thing that this pandemic has reminded us is that we are part of a global community and what one part of the community does affect the other in very real ways. I know that we are all living in different realities within the United States and around the world, we are all struggling with our own situations in different ways. Sometimes it can be difficult to think outside of our own individual realities, especially as most of us are literally and metaphorically living and confined within the walls of our homes. Over the past week many of us have been reading stories of tragedies around the world whether it is the delivery of cardboard coffins for those who have died in Guayaquil, Ecuador; the fear of starvation in many parts of the world as so many lose their jobs or the refugees in camps; homeless, stateless and totally reliant on gifts and donations from others.
In 1 Corinthians 12:26 we read that “if one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together”. It is more important than ever to remind ourselves and our partners that we are keeping each other in our prayers and to ask for prayers from our partners. To remind each other that we are not alone in this crisis.
It is so easy to feel helpless at this time when we are isolating ourselves for the sake of the whole community to avoid spreading the virus. But it is important to stay together as a spiritual community, both locally and globally.
Now more than ever it is important for us to be in touch with our partners around the Church and around the world. To remind one another that we are praying for each other as we face this crisis together as a global family.
We can live alone but we do not need to be socially or spiritually isolated.
I urge you during this Holy Week and Easter Week to reach out to your sisters and brothers in your Companion Dioceses and provide each other with encouragement and companionship during these uncertain times.
Ten Ways to Connect with Partners
1. Phone Calls - When we cannot be with each physically it is nice to hear a familiar voice, so one way to connect is to simply pick up a phone and make a call.
2. What’s App - One of the most popular messaging tools is What’s App. Many of your partners will have this free app that allows for messaging, voice calls, and video calls on smart phones. It is an immediate way to say hello and check in on someone.
3. Emails - Sometimes our inboxes get inundated with ads or mass generated messages and it can be a wonderful surprise to receive a personal email from a friend. This is a quick and easy way to send a note of encouragement or to check in without worrying about your time zone differences.
4. Facebook and Instagram - Social media platforms are a great way to follow all of your partners and for your partners to follow you. Share your photos, stories, and videos while also interacting with your partner’s photos, stories, and videos.
5. Zoom/Skype - Video chat has made being present with people around the world much easier. Zoom or Skype are 2 free platforms you can use to talk to your partners face to face. You can invite partners to speak at online formation, participate in virtual coffee hours, or be present in any virtual gathering your community may be having.
6. Prayer - Pray for each other. This is something that you are probably doing anyways, but let your partners know you are praying for them. Ask for specific things you can be praying for and tell them how they can be praying for you.
7. Virtual Services - Participating in worship is an essential part of our faith life and churches all over the world are navigating how to make worship accessible without gathering in person. Invite your partners to participate in your virtual services and look to see what your partners are doing. Is there a way to do a service together?
8. Letters/Art - Invite your Sunday school children to draw pictures or make cards for your partners. These can be mailed to partners or simply shared as photos. Everyone can be involved in sharing Christ’s love and mutual support in this time.
9. Video messages/reflections - Make short video messages to share with your partners. Share your sermons and reflections.
10. Share Stories of hope and love - Lastly, let us know what you are doing so that we can share it with others as a source of joy and encouragement! Send your stories of how you are connecting to Jenny Grant, the Episcopal Church’s Officer for Global Relations and Networking at firstname.lastname@example.org. Then, follow Global Partnerships on Facebook and Instagram, and GEMN on Facebook to stay connected with our global community.
Additional resources from around the Anglican Communion can be found at Anglican Alliance as well as at Episcopal Relief and Development’s resources for remote ministry and connecting with your partners during an epidemic.
This is not about projects or program planning, but about sharing love and reminding us all that we are connected as sister and brothers in Christ, perhaps now more than ever.