COVID-19: Strengthened in faith, standing against injustice
LWF leaders urge churches to confront and reject xenophobia and domestic violence exposed by Coronavirus
(LWI) - Lutheran World Federation (LWF) leaders are highlighting the vital role that churches can play in confronting and rejecting xenophobia, violence, injustice and the inequalities that have been exposed by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In their latest letter to member churches, LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa and General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge urge congregations across the world to continue following government directives to contain the spread of infections and they give thanks for the many inspiring examples of “steadfastness in the gospel.”
At this time when many live with fear and anxiety, the Lutheran leaders say: “We are strengthened in faith after celebrating Christ’s resurrection from the dead.” They express gratitude to all member churches that have mobilized and found ways of continuing to pray and worship, serve their neighbors in need and advocate for justice and peace, while maintaining physical distancing.
Stand with those suffering
Noting that many people are unable to earn a living and face hunger because of the lockdowns, Musa and Junge stress that “churches have a pivotal role as first responders” to the pain and suffering of others. They ask for donations to LWF’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, as well as calling for prayers and support for over 9.000 World Service staff who continue “working under extreme conditions” to serve refugees, internally displaced people and other vulnerable communities.
The Lutheran leaders express shock and sadness at reports of xenophobia and violence against foreigners, students, migrants, refugees and other groups, including nurses and doctors who have faced hostilities out of fear that they may be infected. They call on churches to “boldly confront xenophobia,” stressing that “where negative profiling and even hate speech is tolerated, violence follows.”
Reject violence against women
Pointing to an alarming increase of femicide and violence against women living in abusive relationships, the LWF leaders urge all member churches to reject and confront this crime. Beginning to name violence against women is the first step to overcoming it, they insist. Musa and Junge invite churches and congregations to make available contact numbers for helplines, while continuing to educate, provide resources and raise awareness about ways of overcoming such violence and abuse.
“We don’t fully know what the future holds in these challenging times,” the two leaders conclude, “yet, we know who holds it.” They urge churches to remain steadfast in their witness and continue serving God’s mission through proclamation, service and advocacy for justice and peace in the world.
Read the letter