The European region of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC Europe) is pleased to cooperate with the Communion of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) and the Protestant Church of Switzerland (PCS) to jointly host an online conference reflecting on the theological and ethical challenges for churches living with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What can be learned from corona?” is the leading question of the online consultation, which will be held 17-19 March. A follow-up consultation to deepen the discussion is planned as a face-to-face event 8-10 October at the Casa Valdese and Facoltà Valdese di Teologia in Rome.
The international and multi-dimensional character of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge churches, bringing out strengths and weaknesses. Professing the grace of God in Christ, churches are responding to those challenges, praying for God’s guidance in following the mission of the church.
The recently published paper Being church together in a pandemic – Reflections from a Protestant Perspective will be the basis of the conference. The paper was drafted by the Advisory Board on Ethical Issues of the CPCE and is intended to be an interim reflection providing guidance for churches in their service to communities and society amidst the ongoing pandemic, thus strengthening the spirit of community and service towards all.
The online conference will reflect and discuss churches’ tasks and challenges in four categories:
The approaches to these categories are manyfold: How can we celebrate worship in times of distance? What does pastoral care for the sick and bereaved mean? We are called to be re-called to “prayer and action for justice” (Bonhoeffer) but what does that mean for our engagement, namely for the poor, the elderly, and those impaired on an individual or a collective level? How should we raise our voice if democratic structures are limited?
Diaconal service is one of the most important aspects of giving practical witness to God’s grace. The pandemic confronts the church with new questions – care for the sick and their families, but also for those who have to decide about life and death – e.g. if triage is discussed. Koinonia – to be common in the one world – challenged churches to look at what happens not only in their neighbourhood but also in other parts of the world – equitable distribution of the vaccine is just one of the issues raised.
The joint digital conference “What can be learned from Corona” connects as well to the WCRC process “What does God require of us? Discerning, Confessing, and Witnessing in the Time of COVID-19 and Beyond” and can be a helpful contribution to it.
The presentations and materials from the conference will be made available after the event.
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Image courtesy of Adobe Stock/CPCE.