Churches urged to get the facts on Ebola
Written by Connie N. Larkman
October 17, 2014
Knowledge is power. As the Ebola outbreak touches more people in our country, UCC leaders and health advocates are urging people of faith to arm themselves with the facts regarding this epidemic and respond as individuals and church communities are they are able.
"Understandably, we are very concerned about the emerging global Ebola crisis," said Barbara Baylor, UCC policy advocate for health and wholeness issues. "Our hearts cry out for the individuals and families affected by this terrible disease. While the news is devastating, now is the time for people of faith to take action by becoming familiar with the facts of the disease to reduce and reject misinformation, being a bridge for peace and calm and leading the banner to show grace and mercy for those with the disease and those who are trying to find the best solutions for this crisis."
On Saturday, Oct. 18, faith leaders across the country are being invited to gather the facts by joining a conference call with the Centers for Disease Control and prevention to discuss the ongoing efforts to respond to Ebola.
In this hour-long call, the CDC will provide information about the Ebola outbreak, and updates on what is being done to help stop it. The Rev. Miriam J. Burnett of the Resource and Promotion of Health Alliance, Inc. will discuss the potential role of places of worship, community, and family in addressing Ebola concerns of those living in the United States. The CDC may discuss some new protocols for faith communities in the Saturday call.
Here is the information for those who want to participate:
Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, 11 a.m. to 12 noon EDT
USA Toll Free: 1-800-857-5755
Verbal Passcode: Community
Details can also be found on the UCC health care justice webpage.
"Get the facts straight," said Lisa Thomas, UCC parish nurse in Cleveland. "That’s very important, so you don’t worry needlessly. This is a really horrible epidemic, though not so much for us in the United States. But you need to aware of what is going on."
While learning more about the epidemic is vital, church members can also be inspired and involved in the response of African partners in the region.
"It is truly a difficult and scary time for those living in the affected areas, but our partners throughout the region are ministering and caring for the most vulnerable," says Sandra Gourdet, Global Ministries area executive for Africa. "They are involved in both the medical response as well as education to prevent the further spread of the virus. We stand with our partners in solidarity and seek to support them in every way possible."
The Global Ministries website has current information about the work of partners in Africa who are ministering to those living in the areas hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak, and how to best assist them.
"We have painfully learned from the past not to rush to judgment and create more suffering by isolating and stigmatizing individuals," said Baylor. "We cannot afford to separate ourselves and alienate each other at a time when we must all embrace Jesus’ hope for humanity – resting in God’s strength."
For further information, The New York Times has developed a very comprehensive fact sheet on Ebola, and the CDC is consistently updating this Ebola website.
"Offer lots of prayers for our brothers and sisters in Africa, and for the medical people on the front lines, so they can get this contained," said Thomas. "This is hard."