By J. Lewis Saylor
The faith community, like the rest of the world, is being confronted by the potential of a public health crisis — the H1N1 (swine) flu. How will we respond? What is the faith community’s role in this situation? I would suggest that houses of worship, religious schools, faith-based nonprofit organizations and related groups have a great potential for involvement, not only for our own constituencies but for the greater community.
In fact, the faith community is in a unique position because we are servant leaders. We interact with a wide range of people – the haves and have-nots of society; the young and the not-so-young; those who are single and those who have families. Our spheres of relationships encompass members, visitors, and many people who use our facilities. Then there are our friends, neighbors, coworkers and civic group colleagues. It is through these relationships that even the smallest of congregations have an amplified reach of thousands. Our larger faith communities often reach multiple thousands of people in a given locality.
Because of this unique position and our tradition of being stewards of both body and soul, many of us participate in preparedness. Preparedness is an intentional approach of thinking forward and then becoming ready on a personal level, leadership level, and community level.
As we confront the current H1N1 flu outbreak (and consider future crises), we can enhance our care for and ministry to people by focusing our energy, our resources, and our faith.
Some of the tools that we have at our disposal include:
We are people of faith, not fear. Hope, not despair. We lean on the Eternal to help us with the immediate needs of the now. Join us.
J. Lewis Saylor serves on the executive committee of the Northern Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active In Disasters (VOAD) and is active with the Faith Communities In Action Interfaith Emergency Planning Steering Committee in Fairfax County, Virginia. Mr. Saylor is a former Director of Staff & Planning for a large church in northern Virginia.