Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri

Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, deputy general secretary of the World Council of Churches.


The general theme of the synod is Living, Healing Sharing: Together for our World.”

Phiri reflected on how the pandemic has changed the world as we knew it many ways. It has demonstrated the fragility of our world and has laid bare risks ignored for decades, including inadequate health systems, gaps in social protection, structural inequalities, environmental degradation, the climate crisis and armed conflicts,” she said. Entire regions that were making progress towards eradicating poverty and narrowing inequality have been set back years in a matter of months.”

The paper also outlined how churches have responded to the changes. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immense impact on every sphere of life,” said Phiri. The death of so many people brought with it fear and grief.”

Whilst the majority of patients with COVID-19 have recovered, the human cost of the pandemic has been – and continues to be – severe and tragic, Phiri noted. The pandemic has also shown the frailty and inadequacy of the global economic system,” she said. Countries already struggling with limited resources are now even more acutely affected.”

Phiri also noted that racism, discrimination and xenophobia take different forms in different parts of the world. Police brutality is everywhere even as lockdown laws are being enforced without consideration that inequality means that some people cannot self-isolate because of there is not enough space in the homes,” she said. The emergence of COVID-19 as a global life-threatening pandemic resulted in exploration of palliative and preventative measures to contain the virus and reduce loss of life.”

Her paper concluded with a summary of global faith responses to the COVID-19 changes. In the two years since the pandemic started, the World Council of Churches has, while working remotely, reoriented its work to equip the worlds churches to address the healthcare and pastoral challenges posed by the pandemic and to minister in the presence of illness, death, and enormous disruption everywhere,” she said. In short, despite the formidable challenges that the pandemic has posed to the WCC, its effectiveness as a convenor of the worldwide fellowship of churches, as a catalyst for public witness, and as a community working in solidarity for justice and peace has, in many respects, actually been enhanced during these straitened circumstances.”

Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri: "How the Pandemic Changed The World: Global Perspective"

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