‘This too shall pass’: Praying for peace, calm: Faith leaders urging calm amid worldwide virus

Nic Cable is shown inside Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus building. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

When it comes to worship services amid the coronavirus, since people are unable to literally attend, faith leaders are working even more to tend to the frightened and the worried amid a drastically different time.

Nic Cable, minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, understands.

“I think that many people are anxious,” Cable said. “And I think some are pretty nervous about how bad it’s going to get. But I think we believe in the power of community, and we just look forward to seeing one another online.”

Church members recently have been using an app called Zoom to stay linked as a congregation.

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“It allows us to stay connected with one another,” the clergyman said.

Cable, who previously worked a job remotely, already was familiar with virtual connections. But, like everyone else, the crisis amid the COVID-19 threat is an entirely new realm. And the unprecedented situation is affecting the faith community’s entire area — and those far beyond Bartholomew County.

The Rev. Adam R. Knapp is a Hope native serving as senior pastor at Floresville United Methodist Church 30 minutes south of San Antonio, Texas. At press time, a number of south Texas churches, including Knapp’s, had still been meeting on Sundays with gloved communion servers and individual grape juice communion cups instead of the normal, shared communion chalice.

All until the governor’s executive order late last week severely limited the size of all public gatherings and left worshippers with lived-streamed services instead.

Through it all, he and his regular 145 attendees have focused considerably on one idea: “We must remember that we are children of the light,” Knapp said. “And therefore, we must behave as children of the light.”

He said that especially includes behavior at the grocery stores, where he said one elderly shopper recently had her toilet tissue swiped from her store cart.

Locally, at The Ridge church, which is live-streaming services on the Facebook page Ridge24.7 at 11 a.m. Sundays from its empty sanctuary, the Rev. Jerry Day Jr. recently wrote a blog, “Four Ways to Find Peace in Times of Trouble,” meant to deliver a sense of stability to members he calls Ridgers. His words focused on Psalm 46. That chapter opens with the words, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we do not fear … .”

Day explained his Scripture selection simply.

“Much of the Bible was written to an unsettled world,” Day said. “Jesus was born into perilous times. Paul shared the gospel in unpredictable times. Many of the prophets ministered in troubling times.”

Across town, Tyler Tolbert, youth minister at Columbus’ First Christian Church in Columbus, linked up via Facebook Live to pray for others with Luke Maggard, senior pastor at Columbus Free Methodist Church. They opened their time together from their respective offices with a biblical passage from Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything.”

At the Islamic Center of Columbus Indiana, members last week were being told to pray at home, for the most part, since Friday and Sunday services have been canceled until further notice. Those insisting on visiting the center for prayer were reminded in a newsletter of practical points in an age of illness.

“Please disinfect all door handles/ knobs/water taps etc. that you touch,” the newsletter read. “Our mosque does not have sufficient resources to daily disinfect the mosque.”

At the Columbus-based Hindu Society of Southern Indiana, T P Sasikumar, a former visiting guru for the local Hindu Society, shared worlds of comfort recently with worshippers there.

“Many people, especially during this time, might feel a sense of isolation that compounds their fear,” Sasikumar said. “Remember — panic and fear are not from God. Calm and hope are. Instead of panicking, spend this time with family and read/talk to your kids about various stories from our scriptures.”

Sasikumar also reminded fellow Hindus of something very practical — planning to get enough rest so they can stay focused on the good and on hope.

Every day while going to bed re-affirm yourself that it is just a phase — and this too will pass,” he said.