“Church leaders constitute a critical mass of strategically placed individuals who can play a major role in enhancing the effectiveness of the overall response to COVID-19,” said Prof. Ezra Chitando, Southern Africa regional coordinator for the World Council of Churches Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy programme, which collaborated with the United Methodist Church to organize the training.
Through contextual Bible study, church leaders looked at guidelines set by the government, preparing for emergencies, and addressing challenges that have emerged during the pandemic, including sexual and gender-based violence, adolescent sexuality, mental health and livelihoods.
“This training is a most welcome refresher course for me and will enable me to interpret the Bible more effectively in the wake of COVID-19,” said Rev. Dzikamai Mundenda of the Anglican Church.
Rev. Henerieta Mgovo of the Baptist Churches in Zimbabwe, said: “Interpreting the Bible responsibly and in community will promote better health outcomes. Religious leaders are not opposed to public health messages.”
“These contextual Bible study sessions have given me new perspectives on how to prepare for emergencies more generally. The Bible is full of messages calling for Christians to always be vigilant and prepared,” said Rev. Lawrence Muvunzi of the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe.
Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, Zimbabwe Council of Churches general secretary, expressed gratitude for the training of church leaders. “Having church leaders who are equipped with effective strategies is critical to the COVID-19 response,” he said.