Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

Love! in the time of coronavirus

Wherever they strike, disasters have a way of revealing our preexisting weaknesses. But they also open up opportunities. There is a golden hour after disaster strikes, a chance to come together and build resilience.

Amanda Ripley, “Four ways to help prevent loneliness while you’re social distancing

Like most people around the country, we at the Center for Interfaith Cooperation find ourselves in unfamiliar waters. For the first in living memory, most places of worship across Central Indiana have suspended or greatly reduced religious services. CIC’s goal is to help religious communities emerge from this time of trauma even stronger and more loving.

Fortunately, most congregations are following the advice of public health experts. Most recognize there is no necessary conflict between science and religion.

Places of worship are suspending services because of the advice to practicing “social distancing,” avoiding close public contact as much as possible. The risk for many is that social distancing will lead to “social isolation,” nearly complete isolation between an individual and society. Social isolation worsens the health of those experiencing it.

Religious groups are essential for helping their most vulnerable congregants to avoid social isolation. Volunteers can keep in contact with those who are particularly suffering because of the absence of community worship services. People who can, if possible, visit those who might be isolated could check on their status as well as praying or meditating with them. These volunteers can be as crucial as public health and medical workers.

Information about the crisis is emerging quickly. The Center for Interfaith Cooperation is postponing its events at least through the end of March. We fear that the dangers of social isolation will worsen in April. Hindus celebrate the spring festival of Rama Navami (April 2); Jews celebrate Passover (April 9-15); Christians gather together for Good Friday (April 10) and Easter (April 12); Muslims welcome the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan (April 24). These are essential parts of the spiritual lives of many people, and not being able to celebrate and worship in a sacred space will be difficult.

We can learn from each other how to cope with the risks of social isolation. We would welcome any ideas and practices that your congregation is trying. As we feel our way through this time of coronavirus together, let’s remember that loving one another is more important now than ever.

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