26 March 2020 | St Albans, UK [Victor Hulbert]
Adventist Churches and institutions across the Trans-European Division are working hard to support members, students, and community during the coronavirus pandemic.
Online support includes church, Sabbath School and prayer meetings; specially developed video clips; and opportunities for a listening ear or prayer. Additional resources for family worship, homeschooling, and college classes are also being provided.
On the ground, members are volunteering to help those in crisis in their neighbourhoods and towns, working carefully in line with government regulations.
Connecting in a double crisis
Even before the Zagreb earthquake on Sunday, 22 March, Adventist leadership in Croatia formed an emergency board in order to coordinate work and relief initiatives. Activities include co-ordinating with local churches including providing support for those shut in by illness or in quarantine.
Media has taken on a major role with live programming not just for Sabbath worship but also providing practical spiritual and social support each evening. The programme ‘There is hope’ is led by pastor Dario Kovačević supported by a large team of volunteers. It airs on the internet every evening via www.glasnade.org and its YouTube channel. The programme has continued even during the many aftershocks that continue to affect the city.
With most schools and colleges shut, education is now a real challenge. Newbold College of Higher Education extended its spring break by one week. It will now teach its theology degree fully online and it has cancelled the English Language Centre courses for the rest of this semester. Most students have now returned home. International visits and groups have been cancelled. Updates are on the college website.
The ADRA Kindergarten in Albania had to close along with all other schools and colleges. Activities, crafts, and homework are provided to the parents via WhatsApp groups, so the children can continue to follow their school curriculum from distance. Their AVS kindergarten teacher returned to the USA before the travel ban was imposed and so an alternative teacher will need to be found.
AVS supports a number of schools across the TED including Vejlefjord Junior College, Denmark. In an online time of prayer and sharing on Monday evening, volunteers expressed their hope and joy even in a time when the school is temporarily shut. Staff are hopeful that it will reopen shortly and they send regular fun messages to students to share how much they are being missed. This is a school that changes people’s lives – as ably demonstrated by Emma, a teenager who went there as an atheist and discovered faith.
Even Pathfinders, a fun activity and Bible-based service of the Adventist Church, has been forced to go online. The British Union Pathfinder Bible Experience national finals were rapidly transformed from a physical to a highly successful online experience when then intended venue for some 1,000 Pathfinders was forced to close.
Reports on social media note many Adventist teachers, who are now restricted at home, are using their skills to help parents and students.
The online response has been impressive. From Estonia and Norway all the way down to Cyprus both local churches and church headquarters are putting on programmes trying to assist worship. Facebook and Youtube are alive with a positive Adventist vibe as Adventists share a message of hope. Conferencing platforms such as zoom are making a real difference for interactive worship. Most platforms have now extended their free versions during the crisis, so they no longer have time restrictions.
The Polish Media Centre in Warsaw has stepped up production with a video message each day, some of which are shared with government officials in the Health department as well as a wider audience across Poland. One of their videos, featuring Union President Ryszard Jankowski was later republished on the popular Polish religious news service Ekumenizm.pl. The site shared extensive information about the Adventist Church in Poland and its reaction to the pandemic.
With a choice of live worship from both a centralised location and at local level, the British Union Conference compiled a guide to help any church set up live worship. They also give a list of some of the live-streams that they are aware of in their territory.
The TED office is closed, but life continues at an increasingly hectic pace during the pandemic. Morning worship brings staff together from their homes in a zoom conference, then various committees and consultations follow. All board meetings and committees now happen via zoom with departmental consultations and support happening on a regular basis.
The TED media department, together with GAiN Europe and other entities, are preparing and sharing messages of hope such as the viral #dearcoronavirus. The first edition is now on multiple platforms in a myriad of languages worldwide. The plan is to release another clip each Friday in time to share in church and on social media throughout Sabbath.
TED Public Campus ministries, via PowerUp, is also planning to increase its output, supporting students, who suddenly find themselves in a very different environment.
Newbold Church, together with the media skills of ARtv have developed a creative online worship service that will grow to include an online choir this coming Sabbath, 28 March. (Watch the 21 March service here.)
There is no need to reinvent the wheel – Karen Holford points, TED Family Ministries director, people towards her live:kind resources where there are many ideas that can be used, even in a time of lockdown.
In Hungary, Gabor Mihalec, a pastor and couples’ therapist, is now running facebook live nightly in a very successful attempt to address the tendency for domestic violence and divorce statistics to increase in lockdown. [See full report here]
Sharon Platt-MacDonald, British Union Health Ministries director, is also re-purposing material and currently highlights her enhancing health programme on boosting immunity as highly relevant.
In addition, many members are volunteering with local neighbourhood groups, hospitals and care centres to ensure that, even in this pandemic, we can, indeed, live kind.
This is not an exhaustive list of activities and initiatives. We could not fit that into one article. But a big thank you to all of our church members, pastors, leaders, and friends for what you are doing to make a difference during this pandemic. Thank you especially for the prayers and the hope that you bring.
For all our reports and resources related to the pandemic, visit our coronavirus page.
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
119 St Peter’s Street, St Albans, Herts, AL1 3EY, England
E-mail: [email protected]
tedNEWS is an information bulletin issued by the communication department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Trans-European Division. Readers are free to republish or share this article with appropriate credit including an active hyperlink to the original article.