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Bible study addresses church identity in pandemic

Bible study addresses church identity in pandemic

Parishioner sprays disinfectant between the services at Franklin (TN, United States) First United Methodist Church, which has adopted the safety protocols to help prevent the possible spread of COVID-19. Photo: Mike DuBose/UM News

17 September 2020

Among the massive social dislocations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps none is as plaintive as those to churches.  Around the world, church gatherings, liturgies, fellowship, and service projects have been canceled or postponed or migrated online, precisely when Christian communities and those who rely on them need them most.

In this context, Rev. Dr David Marshall employs the story of Abraham’s call to explore and reaffirm the fundamental shape of church, even during and after this “season of testing.”

“What does it look like for a church community to be blessed by God and to be a blessing to others through this challenging season that is upon us?” he asks.

As the WCC’s programme executive for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, Marshall turns to the figure of Abraham, patriarch of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, to sketch the shape of his covenantal exchange with God.

“God made us to live together in the enjoyment of God’s blessing and in the totally connected blessing of loving inter-dependence with each other,” he says. He argues that blessing not only affirms community; it challenges it to a broader inclusion and responsibility, including across religious and social boundaries.

Marshall’s reflection is the latest in a series of WCC-commissioned resources, entitled Healing the World, to explore the spiritual gifts and challenges of the pandemic.

Read the full Rev. Dr David Marshall’s Bible study

Other Bible studies in this series

Read the recent WCC-Vatican statement on interreligious solidarity and “Serving the Wounded World”