On March 26 2020, several MVA faith leaders held a virtual meeting, initially scheduled to plan a full Faith Caucus for April 8.
We used a “House Meeting” format to check in with each other on the impacts of the COVID-19 health emergency. We asked typical house meeting questions:
1. How have you and your loved ones been impacted by COVID-19?
2. What pressures has it brought to your congregation? What steps has your leadership taken to respond so far?
3. What is one or two things an MVA organized response could focus on that would be of most benefit to you and your organization? What kinds of assets and limitations are we working with? What are you willing to contribute?
We saw clear themes emerging in just 20 minutes of listening to one another.
Some of the early concerns include:
- maintainIng social connection among members and taking care of people in quarantine;
- how to offset physical isolation measures imposed upon the already socially isolated, whose mental, emotional, and spiritual health is further jeopardized (at least one congregation is keeping its doors flexibly open in response);
- diminished revenues for our congregations, which if unaddressed could lead to unfortunate staff layoffs;
- challenges in conducting worship services virtually;
- and, perhaps most importantly, concern for members, their families and loved ones who are at high risk, such as seniors living in care homes, health care workers, or other workers in essential services.
Particular concern was expressed for the wellbeing and adequate wages of care home workers. Leaders recalled the MVA North Shore faith caucus’s successful campaign with fellow MVA member, the Hospital Employees Union (HEU), for their workers at the Inglewood Care Home a few years back. We agreed to explore possibilities for a research action around these current issues.
We then heard a proposal to bring together MVA's Institutional Leaders for another house-meeting-style conversation. After some discussion, we agreed to lend our support to this effort. We will be calling these leaders individually, preliminary to the larger conversation, with the goal of developing a relational response to COVID-19’s impact on our members and communities.
The Faith Caucus met virtually for a progress report on March 30, which will inform an agenda for the Institutional Leaders discussion on Thursday, April 2, (11:30am-12:30pm).
Please contact Flossie Baker or Audrey Guay directly or at [email protected] if you have capacity to support this initial Institutional Leaders Listening Campaign.