FAITH

Aug. 31, 2021

WCC Vaccine Champions encourage churches’ leadership in promoting public health

The World Council of Churches Vaccine Champions shared their reflections on the status of vaccines in their home contexts, as well as the important role churches are playing in moving toward vaccine equity.
COVID-19 vaccination point in Porto Alegre, Brazil, March 2021. Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC
30 August 2021

Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen, general secretary of the Conference of European Churches, said that many churches in Europe have observed general COVID-related regulations in order to take measures to protect people’s health.

“Some have gone further, however, and I was particularly touched seeing some Anglican cathedrals offering space as vaccination centres while adding to the jabbing soothing organ music,” he said.

Rev. Dr Fidon Mwombeki, general secretary of the All Africa Conference Of Churches, said that more and more people in the region are rejecting conspiracy theories against vaccines and vaccination.  “There is more acceptance of the vaccines,” he said. “However, the biggest problem seems to be supply constraints.”

Mwombeki said that, in many African countries, there are few vaccine doses available. “When a country has vaccinated less than 1% of its population due to lack of resources and availability, talks of booster shots are a great demonstration of inequality and the illusion of the ‘global community,’ ” he said. “Churches have been on the forefront to convince people to accept the vaccine, by debunking wrong teachings, and practically providing vaccine services particularly in rural areas where their health facilities are based.”

In the United States, where COVID-19 cases are again rising, Jim Winkler, president and general secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, said variants and vaccine resistance are posing a big challenge.

“Many people continue to deny the reality of the pandemic, mistakenly believing they will not get sick, and are falling victim to the virus,” he said.

Winkler added that churches in the US are protecting lives in three ways. “Through interfaith and government efforts, churches are directly providing vaccine clinics in their buildings and providing vaccine outreach to local communities. As trusted messengers, church leaders are encouraging vaccinations in their congregations and communities, sharing their personal vaccination stories, and providing facts to counter vaccine disinformation,” he said. “Because the pandemic is a global problem, churches are also joining together to demand vaccine equity and the immediate supply of vaccines to everyone around the world."

Archbishop emeritus Dr Anders Wejryd, Sweden, WCC president for Europe, said that, in Sweden, the vaccination rates seem to be highest in areas that are more affluent.

“Among immigrants, vaccination rates are lower, especially among recent immigrants, probably because they are suspicious of authorities, and may also be suspicious of the vaccine itself,” said Wejryd. “But we have seen good examples of immigrant-led churches where the leaders are giving a good message of why people can trust this vaccine.”

Wejryd expressed his appreciation for churches helping people overcome vaccine hesitancy. “Churches are used as precincts for the vaccination, and that’s nice to see,” he said. “The main thing now is to get a fair spread of the vaccine over the world. All these variants and mutations will continue to go on when you don’t cover the world.”

Rev. Gloria Ulloa Alvarado, WCC president for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine has made it easier for her to personally accompany families who are going through painful situations of loss of life.

“From the churches, we have insisted on the need to take the vaccine to protect life,” she added. “We have provided food aid to families who have lost their jobs or who have increased the lack of economic income, to Venezuelan migrant families and we have continued to support peace signatories in Colombia.”

Aug. 31, 2021

Faith-based forum condemns attacks on religious leaders, calls for immediate ceasefire in Cameroon

The members of the Ecumenical Forum for Peace and Justice in Cameroon, representing churches, church-based organizations, and networks committed to accompanying the churches and people of Cameroon, expressed in a statement how appalled they are by the continuing violence and targeted sectarian attacks against people and communities, including religious leaders and places of worship in Cameroon.
Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC
31 August 2021

The statement names the recent attack on the Presbyterian Church Ntanfoang-Bali on 22 August as one of the latest atrocities in a long and painful history of extremist violence in the region, despite repeated appeals for a ceasefire both to the government of Cameroon and to the `Ambazonian` non-State forces.

“We join the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon and all the churches of the country in our grief at the news of the death of Grace Titalabo killed in the Sunday attack at the Presbyterian Church Ntanfoang-Bali and the many others who have lost their lives because of the ongoing conflict,” reads the statement. “We also pray for the speedy recovery of the pastor of the church who is the Presbytery secretary for Bali Presbytery Rev. Simon Montoh, who sustained injuries and is receiving medical care.”

The statement also notes that the ongoing violence and insecurity have created great hardship for the whole civilian population especially women, children, the physically-challenged and the vulnerable, compounding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Indeed, the intensity of such attacks has increased markedly in recent weeks,” reads the statement, appealing to all parties of the conflict to embrace an unconditional ceasefire.

“We call on the government of Cameroon to conduct an impartial and transparent investigation into the attack on the Presbyterian Church Ntanfoang-Bali, and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” reads the statement. “We join the churches and all peace-loving people within and outside Cameroon in condemning in the strongest terms all such senseless killings and attacks on people, communities and places of worship by both sides involved in the conflict.”

Aug. 20, 2021
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
—Psalm 34:18, ESV


Providing Hope to a Decimated Nation

The ripple effects of Haiti’s massive earthquake to an already devastated country are finally coming into focus.

More than 1.2 million people have felt the impact. Nearly 2,000 are confirmed dead. And about 30,000 families are now homeless.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is sending a team of chaplains to provide emotional and spiritual support for this nation that in many ways has not fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake and 2016 hurricane.

In both previous disasters, the Rapid Response Team deployed chaplains to minister to the brokenhearted and share the hope of Jesus. After the 2010 earthquake, more than 120 chaplains served for a total of 22 months, praying with more than 35,000 Haitians.

The chaplains headed to Haiti this week are specifically trained to respond to disaster situations. The team will serve alongside Samaritan’s Purse, which is providing shelter, water filtration and a field hospital to meet countless physical needs.

Will you pray for this nation and consider a gift today to comfort hurting families as well as spread the Good News of Jesus Christ around the world?
 

Aug. 20, 2021

Afghanistan Veteran Edward Graham: How You Can Pray

After studying the Taliban for years, Edward Graham is intimately aware of what their restored power means for Afghanistan—and why people are desperate to flee.

The 16-year Army veteran is calling Christians to cry out to God on behalf of those currently in fear and hiding.

“Jesus loves them, died for them,” Graham said. “That’s true in this country, that’s true in Afghanistan, that’s true around the world.”

 READ MORE 
Aug. 19, 2021
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
—Psalm 34:18, ESV


Providing Hope to a Decimated Nation

The ripple effects of Haiti’s massive earthquake to an already devastated country are finally coming into focus.

More than 1.2 million people have felt the impact. Nearly 2,000 are confirmed dead. And about 30,000 families are now homeless.

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is sending a team of chaplains to provide emotional and spiritual support for this nation that in many ways has not fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake and 2016 hurricane.

In both previous disasters, the Rapid Response Team deployed chaplains to minister to the brokenhearted and share the hope of Jesus. After the 2010 earthquake, more than 120 chaplains served for a total of 22 months, praying with more than 35,000 Haitians.

The chaplains headed to Haiti this week are specifically trained to respond to disaster situations. The team will serve alongside Samaritan’s Purse, which is providing shelter, water filtration and a field hospital to meet countless physical needs.

Will you pray for this nation and consider a gift today to comfort hurting families as well as spread the Good News of Jesus Christ around the world?