COVID-19: A Lutheran response as we walk along and minister in this time

COVID-19: A Lutheran response as we walk along and minister in this time

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has struck fear and increased anxiety in many. This unknown is causing otherwise rational people to act in irrational ways (aka hording toilet paper and hand sanitizer). Many are also retreating to their homes for self-protection, even if they are not in the high-risk category for the disease.

We have been attempting to give you information about how to navigate through this virus threat. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. How do we respond?

As Lutheran Christians, it is imperative that we do not unnecessarily turn inward but be careful.

The following is an exert from Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s recent statement on COVID-19:

Martin Luther wrote “Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague” and in it, he emphasized the duty to care for the neighbor, the responsibility of government to protect and provide services to its citizens, a caution about recklessness, and the importance of science, medicine and common sense.

To provide care for the neighbor, Luther recommended that pastors, those in public office, doctors and public servants should remain in the city. Luther himself remained in Wittenberg to care for his people. He recommended that public hospitals be built to accommodate those with the plague. He condemned those who took unnecessary risks that put themselves and others in danger of contagion. Luther also encouraged the use of reason and medicine, writing, “God has created medicines and has provided us with intelligence to guard and take care of the body. … Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence” (“Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague,” 1527).

We know that the elderly are at most risk for serious health affects due to the COVID-19 virus and may feel isolated. College students in Ohio and elsewhere may be coming home or looking for ways to connect with people as they wait for classes to resume. Here are some things to consider, while always respecting their wishes and your safety:

  1. Check in on your neighbors and students in your congregation to see how they are doing. Phone calls and text messages are a great way to stay connected. If you visit stay 3-6 feet away from the people you are visiting.
  2. Offer to go to the grocery store or pharmacy on their behalf so they are not unduly exposed to those who may be sick.
  3. Offer to make meals. There is no indication at this time that the virus can be spread through food and doesn’t last long on hard surfaces. So meal sharing is currently considered safe.
  4. Offer to pray with them.
  5. Make sure they know how to contact you should they become ill or in need of something.
  6. Contact our campus ministries and keep our campus pastors in your prayers. Here are the campus ministries in the Southern Ohio Synod.

+Connect with Katie Beth Miksa at The Bridge, Lutheran Campus Ministry at Ohio University

+Connect with Rev. Alice Conner at The Edge, Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Cincinnati

+Connect with Pastor Logan Dysart at Faith Lutheran Church Campus Ministry at Miami University (Oxford)

+Contact with Pastor Karen Asmus-Alsnauer (serving while Pr. Grant Eckhart is on sabbatical) at Jacob’s Porch, Lutheran Campus Ministry at the Ohio State University       

+Connect with Pr. Drew Tucker at Capital University 

+Connect with Pastor Rachel Tune and Pastor Andy Tune at Wittenberg University

Other ways you can help:

  1. Contact your local food pantry to see what they need or expect to need as the virus continues to spread and lives are impacted.
  2. Consider receiving offerings for those who may need extra help in paying rent and utilities because they cannot work.
  3. If your congregation has a Parish Nurse, connect with them. Here is a link to an article from the Parish Nurse in one of our SOS congregations.

Continue to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and Ohio Department of Health website for the latest news and change in worship practices to stay within public health guidelines, but do not panic and do not stop meeting as a faith community unless public health guidelines change. Worshipping communities are a place of stability and peace and provide a sense of normalcy in the midst of crisis.

Please share below ideas and ways your congregation is continuing to connect with your neighbors. We are stronger and better together: Joining Jesus in the restoration of the world.

Don’t forget to wash your hands!