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Ministry in Masks: Territorial leaders reflect on COVID–19

“The face mask will forever be a symbol of this time in history. Although it is typically used to hide one’s identity, our people have used it to reveal who we are,” said Commissioner G. Lorraine Bamford, territorial president of Women’s Ministries.”

“It’s a call for us to get back to our basics,” said Commissioner William A. Bamford III, territorial commander. “How do we get people to worship? How do we get people together? How do we come back together as a body of believers? People must be creative in answering these questions.”


WAB: During the past 4 ½ months, we have served millions of meals to thousands of people. Our officers, soldiers, and volunteers are giving their all. Yet, the amount of sickness among them due to COVID–19 has been minimal. God has allowed this to be an opportunity for us to connect with people.

In some of our corps (churches), officers are cooking up big pots of soup to deliver at lunchtime or at dinner hour. We are still serving. Because of faithful people, we’ve been able to do what we are doing.

The economic impact will be with us for a long time. Thirty million people are out of work. Many of those people will come to us. We have to strategize. How are we going to help them on their journey? Now is the time for us to think about this.

Innovative programs such as “Camp in a Box,” “Virtual Pizza parties,” online Bible studies, and music lessons have been amazing. Who would have thought that we could conduct a band or Songsters Brigade on Zoom or Facebook live? It’s happening and it’s great stuff!

Out of this comes the realization that relationships and friendships are important. On a number of occasions, I’ve heard people say, “It’s just good to be together.”

 

GLB: Technology has changed the way we look at things. We must keep what’s good about it as a permanent tool and an avenue of ministry. However, we must maintain face–to–face contact with people. That’s critical. We want people to know who their pastor is. So, these tools can be dangerous if we rely on them to replace our spiritual family.

Our social ministries departments are already looking at what social service ministry client interviews will look like in the future. We must remember that most people have internet access, but others lack access. So, we must expect that most people will be able to go virtual while others will need alternative methods. We’ve got to find that good balance.

As The Salvation Army, we are positioned to help people in the aftermath of disasters. When they happen, we’ve already got boots on the ground. We have the ability to serve in every zip code in the United States. 

We’re still in the middle of this disaster. That’s the difficulty for all of us. We’re seeing the pandemic ease in some areas but rise in other areas. When will it be over? Everyone is wondering. So, we trust God through the fear as we roll up our sleeves in His name.

 

WAB: The HOPEline calls are another opportunity to connect with people about the challenges they’re going through. It’s an opportunity to meet the need for spiritual and emotional care and to express the love of Jesus.

 

GLB: The murder of George Floyd brought to light the inequities and systemic racism that continues. Social media has allowed people to converse more. This has been positive and negative because conversations from a keyboard sometimes fail to represent what someone’s heart is actually saying.

We need to keep those virtual conversations going and eventually bring them to an actual setting if we are to grow through all of this.

 

WAB: Think about your personal calling. How are you to serve? What is your personal mission? What is God saying to you, right now? Then, ask yourself, How do I accomplish that? How does doing it help the community to change? Finally, you must implement it, which takes us back to the basics: sharing the gospel and being in relationship with people and with God.

by Warren L. Maye

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