Powerless. Helpless. That’s how many of us have felt during the long months of the COVID-19 pandemic. What can we as congregational leaders do beyond providing pastoral care, supporting connections that come from being part of a faith community, and offering worship online? It’s not that those things are unimportant; they’re essential. But what can we do as congregations to help actually stop the pandemic? 

In this week’s Weekly, we hear two ways that congregations can help. First, we visit Convent Avenue Baptist Church in West Harlem, NY, which is offering free COVID-19 testing. Convent’s story reminds us that testing has been and remains a necessary help in stopping the spread of the virus. Then, we hear a reminder that congregations can play a vital role in combating misinformation and distrust about the vaccine, particularly in communities of color. 

Also in this Weekly, you’re invited to help Alban author Leah Schade in her new research project about ministry, preaching and social issues. Finally, learn more about one of the newest titles in the Alban library — Celebrating the Graying Church by Richard P. Olson

Welcome to the Weekly. 

Congregations can help slow the spread of COVID-19 by offering free testing

Congregations can help slow the spread of COVID-19 by offering free testing

With stories about the various COVID-19 vaccines dominating the news cycle, it’s easy to forget that testing remains a vital part of efforts to slow the spread of the virus. In this Faith & Leadership story from September 2020, we were introduced to the leaders of Convent Avenue Baptist Church who saw a need and met it by offering free testing for members and neighbors alike. It’s something churches around the country could do.

Resources for leaders during the pandemic

Churches in predominantly Black communities can play a vital role in vaccinating against COVID-19

Congregations in Black communities can play a key role in vaccination campaign

Disparities in medical treatment and a history of clinical abuse have undermined trust in COVID-19 vaccines for some Black Americans. Faith leaders are helping through relationships and models for outreach.

Survey on Ministry, Preaching and Social Issues

Your input is needed in new research survey

All clergy, seminarians, lay preachers and retired clergy are invited to participate in a research survey being conducted by the Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary, and author of the Alban book, Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide. Your responses will help further research about preaching and ministry at this unique time in American history. Responses to this 20-minute survey are anonymous. The survey is open through February 15. You are also encouraged to share this with other clergy in your network as well.

From the Alban Library

Celebrating the Graying Church: Mutual Ministries Today, Legacies Tomorrow

by Richard P. Olson

Celebrating the Graying Church: Mutual Ministry Today, Legacies Tomorrow

Today, many churches and their related agencies and ministries are shrinking. Often a large portion of those who remain are older adults. Celebrating the Graying Church suggests that this is an opportunity for a new and different kind of ministry—a ministry to, with, and from older adults who may have wisdom to pass on to the legacy of the future generations. This book offers opportunities, ideas, and guidance for this new vision and practice of ministry, while also describing how aging adults in ministry can support each other and their faith communities.

Before you go…

In a recent interview with NPR, the legendary filmmaker Ken Burns observed that the United States is presently suffering from three viruses — COVID-19, white supremacy and misinformation. As we look around the country, we can see clearly how these viruses collude with one another, robbing our neighbors, friends and family members of their health, livelihoods and futures.

The good news is that communities of faith play a pivotal part in exposing and eradicating these viruses from our common life. Whether it’s through community testing or combating misinformation or acknowledging and repairing centuries-old wrongs, congregations can be a healing presence and a reason for hope. 

Thanks for the way that your congregation is doing that in your community. It matters now more than ever. 

We’ll see you next week, and in the meantime, peace! 

Nathan Kirkpatrick

Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity

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