Photo Daniel Berehulak for the NYTimes
Churches in Liberia were as unprepared for Ebola as other institutions, and even after most gathering places closed, congregants kept meeting in churches, sometimes bringing people stricken with Ebola to show hospitality. NPR and other outlets reported on the spread of Ebola through churches last year. With a focus on hospitality and trust, churches are hit especially hard by a tragedy like Ebola.
Congregants struggle in many ways as they return to church; feelings of grief when seeing the empty pews of the deceased, or guilt over the spread of Ebola, or even a traumatic association of the church with the illness. The New York Times illustrates these challenges with an article on the United God is Our Light Pentecostal church, which is slowly bouncing back from the epidemic.
The pastor had an unexplained illness of several weeks duration, but the congregants focused their blame on one woman who had brought a sick friend to services. The church is now seeking to heal through finding the woman and forgiving her.
From the NY Times:
“We as a church have to go to her and find her,” said Mr. Vayombo, the church secretary. “We, as a church, need to go and tell her, ‘Come, everything is over. Everything is over.’”
Pentecostal church leadership struggled to understand Ebola more than most clergy, offering inaccurate and moralistic interpretations of the disease. Do you think the leaders of these churches failed their congregants? How can they restore trust and regain authority in a post-Ebola Liberia?
Posted by David Streever