PANDEMIC FATIGUE Recently, Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Lake Charles, Louisiana. In its earlier life as a tropical storm, Laura impacted Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is doing what it can, given the travel ban that exists through the end of the year for all General Assembly entities. PDA is working through international partners to help out in the Caribbean. Check this page for what PDA is doing in Louisiana, Texas, and beyond.
September 10 is generally acknowledged to be the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts until the end of November. There are only a few more names on the list for the rest of the 2020 season (Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred).
Florida Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Network (FLAPDAN) has developed a volunteer commuter plan to address post-storm needs should this arise in Florida while the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing. Please refer to the Council report in the September 1 stated meeting reports packet for more information about this plan. If you or your congregation is interested in helping out with this effort, please contact us at the Presbytery Office.
September marks the beginning of the fourth season in which we have been dealing with COVID-19. The pandemic started in late winter, ramped up through the spring and summer, and hopefully is on the decline as we move into fall on Tuesday, September 22 (9:30 am EDT). The news has had stories recently on concerns that the coronavirus, if it spikes in the fall, could be complicated by the presence of the seasonal flu. Perhaps this year is the one to make sure you get a flu shot to minimize that risk.
I have recently been thinking about the emotional stresses of this pandemic. We are in the sixth month since most of our congregations moved worship to virtual platforms. Some congregations are doing limited in-person services once again, while others have not yet made that step. It is my sense that we are all dealing with emotions on a deeper level than are usually less present, if at all: sadness, frustration, restlessness, and anger, to name a few. Some of these are made more intense because of the combination of the coronavirus, incidents of racial injustice, and despite many trying to raise their voices in peaceful ways, the violent actions of others that serve no constructive purpose.
We need to recognize this as faith communities, and provide “solid ground” upon which people can seek refuge during these troubled and troubling times. Despite the circumstances of our times, the message of the gospel is still one of hope and peace, and joy that may not be felt as full-blown happiness, but is joy nevertheless.
PDA offers several resources for emotional and spiritual care during and after times of crisis and stress. These are available on the Emotional/Spiritual Resources page of PDA’s web site. These resources include:
The Trauma Pastoral Care series, 15 videos “intended for pastors caring for those experiencing trauma, or experiencing trauma themselves.” Video topics include self-care for clergy, theology of disaster, and compassion fatigue.
Faith in the Midst of Community Disaster, a Bible Study series on disaster preparedness.
God With Us, worship and Christian Education resources for congregational use after a disaster, with a focus on children, youth, and families.
Light Our Way, a resource prepared by National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) that focuses on emotional and spiritual care giving.
If you have some favorite resources in this area, please let us know what you are using to help bring comfort to your people.