COVID-19 Resources

WCC resources on the COVID-19 pandemic

Prayers in view of the coronavirus pandemic

At this time when we have to keep physically distant from one another, it is more important than ever that we draw close to one another spiritually, praying together.

While prayers cannot be held at the chapel of the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva where the WCC has its offices, the WCC spirituality team shares below a short prayer outline for each week. In addition, we offer prayers shared with us by Christians in different parts of the world as a way of interceding together for our one human family.

Resource book

Voices of Lament, Hope, and Courage

A Week of Prayer in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

To commemorate a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, the World Council of Churches provides this resource for a week of prayer.
This book was designed as a resource for use in prayer groups, congregational services, personal prayer, and in the pastoral accompaniment of those directly affected in different ways by the pandemic. The prayers, messages, reflections, statistics and WCC resources have roots in faith challenged by mourning, fear and uncertainty in different contexts worldwide. 

Prayer texts and orders of prayer

Are you a hymn writer or do you enjoy writing prayer texts? Find out how you can contribute!

1. Our congregation has many unexpected expenses related to supporting victims of COVID-19. What can we do to fundraise?

Many congregations all over the world are facing new financial challenges due to COVID19.  As the faithful have to stay at home, many lose income, struggle to grow crops, and may not receive government support. Many congregations are seeing people asking for small grants, soup kitchens or material support. Around the world, churches have found creative fundraising opportunities to cover these unforeseen expenses.

The Northeastern Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Africa organised a Solidarity Solitary Church Run, where you could sponsor your pastor.

In Gujarat/India young women are distributing food to families of daily wage workers.

Response by Rev. Dr Benjamin Simon, WCC programme executive for Church Relations
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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2. How does a church provide practical support to members and to the wider community during lockdown?

The Bible has many examples of God inviting humanity to overcome crises with whatever tools are available to us. Let us do likewise.

Use available tools/resources – including online services, sermons and Bible studies – to communicate your willingness to help. Include references to hotlines/text reporting networks. Create and promote online/text conversation spaces for supporting family life during COVID-19.  Use those spaces to discern the situation(s) in your context, and establish SOS codes – as needed. Think practically of repurposing church spaces (where possible) as potential safe spaces for persons needing to escape.

Support the WCC #ThursdaysinBlack campaign for a world free from rape and violence.

How to be the church when the church has left the building?

Use the spiritual resources published by the WCC

Response by Rev. Nicole Ashwood, WCC programme executive for Just Community of Women and Men
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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3. There is so much information about COVID-19 in so many places, from so many people! How do I decide what to believe and what not to believe?

The ease with which information is generated and distributed has allowed us to share critical health information with many people. Unfortunately, the same tools are being used to spread misleading information.

You should rely on mainstream media for the facts on COVID-19 because they verify their facts. The WHO and regional bodies are also credible sources of medical data. All treatment claims must undergo standard clinical trials; until then they are premature and best ignored.

We should not be part of the problem. Be prudent and only forward to others information that you have verified to be true and useful.

Visit the WHO website for the most updated information on COVID.

More in-depth advice on fake news

The BBC News has a “reality check” feature through which you can dispel myths:

Response by Dr Mwai Makoka, WCC programme executive for Health and Healing
WCC COVID-19 Support Team


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4. How can churches help protect a vulnerable person from abuse and violence during confinement?

Confinement at home and isolation from other community members, school, workplaces and neighbours increases the risks of violence many children and adults are already facing. The helping role and impact of faith leaders has been widely recognised and documented.

Join the global campaign “Faith in Action for Children,” aimed at strengthening efforts to keep children safe during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In light of the increased risks of child sexual abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, take a look at the Out of the Shadows toolkit developed by the WCC for churches.

Equip Sunday school teachers with information about the tollfree national helpline numbers for their group members and by promoting awareness on tips and resources.

If there is no support service in place in your country: urge your government and municipalities to put such services in place. If there is no progress, consider seizing the UN Human Rights urgent procedures and review the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right’s COVID-19 actions available.

Response by Frederique Seidel, WCC senior advisor on child rights 
WCC COVID-19 Support Team


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5. How can we ensure hand hygiene during COVID-19, when half of the world’s population does not enjoy basic handwashing facilities?

Safe and consistently available water supply, hygiene and cleaning products, and waste management practices are essential to prevent the human-to-human transmission of coronavirus. But this pandemic is occurring in the context of a global water crisis!

Some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safe drinking water, 4.2 billion people do not have safe sanitation, and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the UN recognition of the human right to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for all people. This pandemic further reveals the current injustices and inequities we still have to overcome. Churches and related agencies are working with communities to overcome the lack of water by providing for and advocating for safe, affordable and sufficient availability of water for all.

The WCC and ACT Alliance are advocating for water justice on a global level:

WCC and ACT Alliance statement on World Water Day 2020 amid COVID-19 pandemic

Water, sanitation and hygiene—and the positive difference churches can make (WCC press release of 30 April 2020)

Through its WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) programmes, the Norwegian Church AID is working with local communities and churches to make a difference.

Recording of a webinar, “Where Faith Speaks: WASH in Religious Institutions”

Response by Dr Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC-Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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6. How can churches give people and their families space for healing dialogue, and for accompaniment through mental illness?

COVID-19 made mental health issues worse than ever. Our church response should not be limited to the spiritual well-being of a person but for wholistic wellness, including mental health. Identify a licensed mental health practitioner in your church who can facilitate safe spaces for dialogue and accompaniment on mental wellness. You may also seek professional help by partnering with non-profit organizations. For help creating a space to host a mental health response training or workshop, check Mental Health First Response (MHFR).

Information on the silent stigma of mental illness in the church.

Reflect on the remarks of Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary at a global mental health day event in 2016.

Response by Joy Eva Bohol, WCC programme executive for youth engagement
WCC COVID-19 Support Team


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7. As more churches shift to virtual worship, what can be done to ensure that the ministry of Christian education to children and youth is not overlooked?

As churches have moved online, they have been prioritizing a Sunday morning worship schedule—and rightly so! But we should not overlook the youth in our congregations. Keeping them connected to each other and the broader faith community is important. How so?

Consider having a youth Zoom meeting where you can utilize, as one example among others, the Alpha Youth model.

Or what about using TikTok videos and platform to connect with your young people? For Mother’s Day, one congregation created WhatsApp video messages where the pastor used puppets to connect with the children and youth in the congregation.

For an example of a vacation Bible school format offered for children in lockdown, check out the CSI All Souls’ Coimbatore.

Response by Rev. Dr Mikie Roberts, WCC programme executive for Spiritual Life and Faith and Order
WCC COVID-19 Support Team


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8. How can churches and diaconal agencies respond to the specific needs of small island communities?

Small island communities often have good social networks and community spirit, but high-level hospital care may require evacuation by air or sea to the nearest mainland hospital. This may become difficult or impossible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Churches have a crucial role in maintaining communications, sharing accurate information, improving morale and safeguarding mental health.

On the Isle of Man (a self-governing British territory, but not part of the UK) there is strict prohibition of entry. Local churches are developing online resources (including worship) tailored to local circumstances, such as the “Sthie” project (pronounced sty).

Many Pacific small island developing states have inadequate medical facilities and resources to combat COVID-19. Many people with pre-existing conditions remain at high risk.

Pacific Island churches, guided by the Pacific Conference of Churches, implemented measures such as online worship and home/family worship, raising awareness on precautionary measures. Currently churches are working on foodbank gardens to provide to low income or struggling families.

Response by Rev. Matthew Ross, programme executive for Diakonia and Capacity Building
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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9. How can we stay connected with our ecumenical partners?

The COVID-19 pandemic requires all of us to stay physically distanced. We have to reorganise our daily lives and also our spiritual lives. This is very intensive and time consuming. But, it is not about being socially distanced – it is rather very important that we remain socially connected in one way or the other. This is also the case with our spirituality and church life. Ecumenical relations are also important in view of learning from each other and improving our own situation as well as working on the unity Christ motivated us to pursue.

The WCC has collected a database of materials from its worldwide fellowship and partners where good practices are collected ( The WCC has recently opened this database to all.

Some ecumenical initiatives try to bring together partners from all over the world. Check out the Global Ecumenical Hangout

Some ecumenical gatherings are inviting people to share prayers or common songs. The Christian Conference of Asia, for example.

Response by Rev. Dr Benjamin Simon, WCC programme executive for Church Relations WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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10. How can churches support children during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Churches play an important role in supporting children whose challenges are exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

Sunday school facilitators and teachers of church-run schools are well placed to keep in contact with the children in their communities, provide spiritual support, share educational, protective and entertaining resources adapted to confinement, and let them know where to find help if they are at risk.

Check out the UNCEF COVID-19 information centre

Some churches were able to develop child-focused COVID-19 resources, such as the puppet web series for the youngest ones, developed by the Anglican church in Canada.

Churches can access and share support materials through the Faith for Positive Change for Children initiative, for which WCC is an Advisory Group member.

You can also help children see the opportunity for lasting systems changes in the COVID-19 crisis, and encourage them to participate in building back better.

Response by Frederique Seidel, WCC senior advisor on child rights  WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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11. Are displaced people and refugees more vulnerable to COVID-19?

Worldwide, 71 million people are refugees or are displaced within countries. Living in cramped circumstances, with limited access to resources, hygiene and health facilities, they are particularly at risk during this pandemic. Over 80 percent of the world's refugees are hosted in low- and middle-income countries, many of whom are facing multiple challenges of their own. In these difficult times, there are instances where refugees and migrant populations are blamed by host communities for bringing the pandemic, precipitating further stigma and persecution.

The pandemic is leading to a severe economic downturn, making the mobilisation of resources for the welfare of displaced people and refugees more difficult.

This is the time when churches and faith communities are to be in solidarity with the most vulnerable communities today.

In the middle east, the council of churches is supporting displaced families with personal protection equipment and support for their livelihood.

In Europe, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe is actively advocating at the political level for the rights of migrants, refugees and displaced people to ensure their right to protection, just treatment and human dignity.

Response by Dr Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC-Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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12. Is hunger on the increase due to the COVID 19 pandemic?

The number of people facing acute food insecurity is expected to rise to 265 million in 2020, from 135 million in 2019, as a result of the impact of COVID-19.

More than 60% of the world's workforce, accounting for 2 billion workers, are in informal employment. Most of them do not have access to the social safety-net, adding to their vulnerability in accessing food. The long lines of people waiting for food assistance has become a familiar sight even in the wealthiest nations of the world. A day without work often translates to a day without food.

Churches all over the world are at the forefront of responding and accompanying those who are in need, serving and witnessing the Lord by their actions.

The Anglican Communion of Churches

The National Council of Churches in India

The Presbyterian Church in the USA

Response by Dr Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC-Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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13. What can we learn from the margins about resistance and resilience in the midst of a crisis?

Now is the opportune time for us to learn from those in the margins. The stories of resilience and solidarity around the world expose, more than ever, the disparities of our society. People are now re-awakened and are more eager to address climate justice, gender justice, and economic justice, among other issues.

There are young people from different countries, who continue to #protestfromhome to demand accountability of governments to put human rights at the center of the COVID-19 response.

A group of young people in the Philippines raised funds to provide protective personal equipment for healthcare frontline workers in six district hospitals.

A regional youth organization in Europe calls their members to volunteer to run errands and buy essential items for people in the high-risk and vulnerable category.

Young women ambassadors of Thursdays in Black campaign continue to raise awareness and demand for change towards a world without sexual and gender-based violence.

A youth group in India distributes food and hygiene kits

#ProtestFromHome: Why Christian youth go on ‘digital protest’ amid lockdown

Response by Joy Eva Bohol, WCC programme executive for youth engagement WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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14. How are we creating temporary space like “home” to those on the frontline, who were evicted from their apartments/houses/dorms due to their high exposure to COVID-19?

Now that attending church in-person at the sanctuary is limited, the church should take this as an opportunity to reemphasize our service with our neighbours. In many cases around the world, healthcare workers and other essential workers in the frontline are discriminated due to their direct exposure to the people infected with coronavirus. Many of them were kicked out of their apartments. The church can offer our places of worship to these frontline workers as temporary refuge.

Philippine church leaders say churches can serve as field hospitals

Religious groups, churches offer temporary shelter for COVID-19 frontliners

Response by Joy Eva Bohol, WCC programme executive for youth engagement WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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15. How can the church advance a disability inclusive response to COVID-19?

COVID-19 continues to challenge society, with the hardest hit being the vulnerable members. Governments, experts and religious leaders have put in place emergency measures as well as social and economic safety nets as a response to the pandemic. The church, which has a unique role of offering societal support, comfort and guidance has also set up response measures to complement efforts of other actors.

Emerging evidence shows that persons with disabilities—among other vulnerable persons—are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Persons with disabilities are at the risk of greater socio-economic impact due to attitudinal, environmental and institutional barriers that are reproduced in the COVID-19 response.

In most societies, the church is perceived as a source of credible information and can influence the actions of other actors in the society. The church can use this position to influence a disability inclusive response to COVID-19 through:

Provision of accessible information.

Accessibility of health services and medical equipment.

Inclusion of persons with disabilities in the emergency response initiatives.

Assurance that worship, pastoral and other forms of spiritual support take into the account the unique needs of different types of disabilities.

Links for more information:

Advancing a disability-inclusive response to COVID-19

UNSDG - Policy Brief: A Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19

Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN)

Response by Anjeline Okola, programme coordinator,  WCC Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network

WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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16. What can we do when people are not used to keeping physical distance?

In many cultures worldwide, people are used to living very close to each other by keeping a strong sense of social and physical connectedness and conviviality—especially in times of sorrow and grief. This is something genuinely human and important for the well-being of a human being. In these times of COVID-19, we are asked exactly the contrary – keep distanced! Stay physically distanced. This is not to be misunderstood as staying socially distanced. It is not needed to stay socially distanced in this pandemic. Many ways are given to stay socially connected while keeping a physical distance, even in societies and cultures where this is lived out intensively.  It is important that we accept that a change in our behaviour is essential.

Close ties challenge rural Africa

Behavioural changes difficult
Some guidance amidst COVID19

Door to Door

People drew closer to WCC fellowship

Response by Benjamin Simon, WCC programme executive for Church Relations
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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17. What can we do in the hurricane season in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

The first of June through 30 November is designated as hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin.  Emergency managers have begun preparation for this above-average 2020 hurricane season by amending all predesigned hurricane response and recovery plans to include new guidance to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

As it relates to physical distancing, personal protective equipment, and external support, some key areas of concern were raised:

Maintaining newly adopted telecommunication platforms for emergency operation and recovery centers.

Identifying, staffing and equipping additional emergency, long-term and medical sheltering.

Arranging transportation and alternate mainland medical facilities for patient evacuation.

Managing resource staging and distribution to minimize personal contact.

Obtaining direct federal aide and mission assignments with mainland states.

As the number of positive affected individuals increases, it is evident that normal measures for disaster response and recovery will not be enough to safeguard all those engaged in the relief efforts.  Early Identification of available resources and entering pre-position contracts, memorandums of agreement and pre-scripted mission assignments must be accomplished to reduce the territory’s shortfalls.

Preparing for Hurricanes During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pastoral letter from the general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches

A new vulnerability

Response by Rev. Debra Henneman-Smith, an acolyte of the Memorial Moravian Church in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands

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18. What is the relationship between forests, people and COVID-19?

Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at an alarming rate, contributing significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity and increasing human vulnerability to emerging pandemics. Over the last 30 years, approximately 60-70 percent of new diseases that emerged in humans had an animal origin. Three to four new infectious diseases emerge each year, most of which originate from wildlife.

As the COVID-19 virus spreads around the world, deforestation is also rising at an alarming rate. Indigenous people are being killed, exploited and expelled from their lands. The welfare of the indigenous people who constitute 5 percent of the world’s population is critically linked to the very survival of humanity.

By respecting and conserving forests, we protect both the diversity of creation, and indigenous people, who are guardians of creation. We also protect ourselves from deadly new diseases.

WCC is part of the global faith-based movement, the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, to inspire people, appeal to their core values, and make an ethical case for urgent and concerted action to protect rainforests.

WCC - part of the global faith-based movement, the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative

Learn more about the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative

The Resource Guide on Rainforest Protection for Religious Communities

FORESTS AND PANDEMICS: An issue primer for religious leaders and faith communities

WCC- Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

Response by Dr Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC-Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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19. Now that we are returning to physically gathering together again for worship, what should we pay attention to?

After months of lockdown and engaging in virtual worship, congregations throughout the world are preparing to gather again in their sanctuaries. In keeping with the guidelines that many countries made, churches and other places of worship were all impacted.

Now as these restrictions are eased, congregations are once again seeking to navigate the return of worship in their church buildings. In this process, they are once again being guided by protocols that have been established by governmental health agencies. These protocols cannot be ignored, for that would mean risking the health and wellbeing of members within the same congregations and the wider community.

In returning to physically gathering for worship, congregations have also had to discern how best to follow these protocols while ensuring that the core elements of their liturgical practices are not cast aside. Some ecumenical guidelines have been created which provide some insightful ways that congregations can navigate the delight and challenge that comes with returning to the familiar space of their sanctuaries.

Singing, a source of healing and hope

Singing in midst of several global “pandemics” including Racism

Pandemic challenges music ministers

Response by Rev. Dr Mikie Roberts, WCC programme executive for Spiritual Life and Faith and Order

WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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20. Domestic violence has increased in times of the pandemic. How is this related to patriarchy?

COVID-19 resulted in an unprecedented surge in domestic violence. Many postulate that this results from the mental health implications of being under lockdown and the uncertainty that accompanies the economic fallout; and this is correct. However, it is important to note that COVID-19 has only served to exacerbate the underlying problem of patriarchy (the abuse and misuse of power dynamics especially between men and women). The refusal of some governments to institute programmes for the protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence, the lack of access for young mothers to post-pregnancy education, the increased cases of infection risk, unemployment (especially in the informal sectors) and economic support point to patriarchy’s influence on the domestic violence and gender inequalities. One may presume, in the absence of empirical data, that patriarchy, mental health challenges and opportunity have jointly influenced the surge in violence during the pandemic.

Resources which point to patriarchy as a pre-existing condition for violence during COVID-19:

Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women

The Diplomat: How COVID-19 Worsens Gender Inequality in Nepal

The Shadow Pandemic- GUIU’s Response to Gender-Based Violence During COVID-19

World Bank: Gender Dimensions of the COVID 19 Pandemic

Reflections on sexual and gender based violence from the WCC for resources on addressing sexual and gender-based violence during the pandemic

Response by Rev. Nicole Ashwood, WCC programme executive for Just Community of Women and Men
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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21. How can Christians discern the voice of God, amidst many voices claiming to be God’s voice? How does one know what to believe or not? What to pray for and against?

God speaks to God’s people through many mediums. Some of the ways through which Christians can hear the voice God are by observing nature, reading God’s word or reflecting on personal experiences through the spirit of God.

Reflecting on Jeremiah 29:1-13 provides some insights that may help Christians as they struggle to discern the voice of God amidst the many voices claiming to be God’s voice. 
It is important to use reason in listening to God because God is not irrational. In times of crisis like the current pandemic, our responses can alleviate or aggravate suffering. Working to understand the virus, how it is transmitted, how it can be prevented and how it affects human bodies would be helpful in mitigating the suffering.  It is important therefore to hear the voice of God in those lines in which life will be affirmed and suffering will be alleviated.

Realistic Hope, Not False Hope: Prophecy and COVID-19

Bible studies of WCC


Response by Rev. Pauline W. Njiru, WCC Ecumenical HIV & AIDS Initiatives & Advocacy Eastern Africa regional coordinator

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22. How have indigenous communities been affected by COVID-19?

The pandemic has heightened existing inequalities and vulnerabilities, further exacerbating current inadequacies within systems and infrastructures. Indigenous communities lack adequate access to healthcare systems, financial and social services. The pandemic has made access to these services even more difficult. Language and communication are an additional barrier in a time of critical need as information about the pandemic or access to services is not usually translated into indigenous languages.  For many indigenous communities, COVID-19 not only poses a continuing health threat but also more critically threatens their very survival and existence. The pandemic affects the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. The loss of the elderly or indigenous elders inevitably means a loss of culture. The lockdown has meant a loss of income and livelihood. In some countries, unfortunately, governments are taking advantage of the pandemic to further exploit and oppress indigenous communities.

As difficult and as challenging the pandemic has been for indigenous communities, they continue to rise in hope and resilience, offering encouragement, wisdom and a vision of world where all can continue to live sustainably, equitably, and justly.

Indigenous Elders write to the church on COVID-19

Impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous communities across the globe

UN - COVID-19 and Indigenous peoples

Protect the people of the Amazon during COVID-19, urge Norwegian church leaders

Responses by Rev. Dr Seforosa Carroll, WCC programme executive, Mission from the Margins/Indigenous Peoples

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23. How do we accompany persons with disabilities in COVID-19?

Among the people most affected by the isolation imposed because of the coronavirus are persons with disabilities and it’s therefore important that in the midst of it all, we need to be cognisant of the rights of persons with disabilities in relation to the COVID-19 response and accompany them during this period. One of the key ways in which we can accompany persons with disabilities is to ensure that all preparedness and response plans are inclusive of and accessible to all persons with disabilities, including women and girls with disabilities, and that they receive information about infection mitigating tips, public restriction plans, and the services offered in a diversity of accessible formats, including: easy-read format; high contrast print and, where possible, braille; and use of available technologies such as subtitles in verbal messaging.

Second, in the event of a quarantine, support services as well as physical and communication accessibility must be ensured. Personal assistants and interpreters should be, when possible, proactively tested for COVID-19 to minimize the risk of spreading the virus to persons with disabilities. If a person with disabilities ends up being infected with the virus, this could lead to increased barriers in seeking and receiving healthcare and it is therefore important to ensure that they do not experience discrimination and negligence by healthcare personnel.

Finally, we need to have understanding and show love for one another.

ACT Alliance-Briefing paper

Lutheran Disabilities Services

Coronavirus Resources for Churches

Response by Anjeline Okola, programme coordinator,  WCC Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network

WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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24. How is power manifest in the COVID-19 pandemic?

Power can be defined as the ability or capacity to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events. In the context of the COVID-19, there are key three facets of power that influence the trajectory of the pandemic: The power that comes through the authority to govern; the power that comes from wealth and the access to resources; and the power that comes from being able to influence the thinking and actions of people—such as religious and spiritual leaders wield.

It is the way power is exercised that determines a good or bad outcome.

In exercising power positively, authorities adhere to scientific evidence, looking beyond consolidating political control and by being accountable to all sections of their population.

Wealthy nations, representing only 13 percent of the world's population, have exercised their economic power by reserving 51 percent of the promised doses of leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates. As the scramble for vaccines intensifies, two-thirds of the world's population may not have a vaccine until 2022. Nevertheless, there are positive signs: 30 countries and many international partners have committed to support the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, an initiative aimed at making vaccines, tests, treatments and other health technologies to fight COVID-19 accessible to all.

It is also clear that faith communities are protected from the pandemic when religious and spiritual leaders and institutions exercise their power and influence over people by pointing to trustworthy and scientific information and combatting false information, ignorance and fear.

Only the power of love and mutual accountability will overcome SARS-CoV-2.

Recommendations for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19

'The Covid-19 Global Response Index'

Half the future supply of leading COVID-19 vaccine contenders bought up by a few wealthy nations

COVID-19 Technology Access Pool to ensure the latest and best science to benefit all of humanity

Response by Dr Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC-Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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25. How can we deal with death and dying during the pandemic?

Worldwide, as of 26 September 2020, almost one million people have died from COVID-19.  Every death is a human tragedy, resulting in grief, bereavement and – in some cases – loss of family income. The mental health implications for those who have lost a loved one cannot be underestimated; pastoral care and diaconal support may be necessary for many years. Adequate resourcing of diaconal services will be crucial to meet needs.

Hospitals will often need to restrict access to COVID-19 patients. This has led to many deaths alone, where a family has been unable to say goodbye. There may be restrictions on funerals, such as numbers of mourners who may attend. Such issues can compound grief. In such cases, as well as grief, death can also be accompanied by feelings of guilt amongst survivors. Questions, such as whether more could have been done to prevent the death, are commonplace. In all cases, stigmatisation of victims of COVID-19 is wrong and misguided. Bereaved relatives thus require particular support and understanding.

Whilst the majority of deaths have been amongst the elderly, younger people (including children) are not immune. Any trivialisation or downplaying of the consequences of COVID-19 is highly irresponsible and can lead to increased infection rates; the church can play a key role in addressing superstitions, rumours and falsehoods.

Death is not the end

Our Hope

How coronavirus has transformed the grieving process

“I buried my cousin live on facebook”

“I believed that I would see her again”

Response by Rev. Matthew Ross, programme executive for Diakonia and Capacity Building
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

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26. How can churches address engaging in liturgical rites and practices during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Liturgical practices vary depending on ecclesiastical traditions. However, one common element of living, praying and worshipping is that it is done in community. Christian faith is embodied through presence. When we speak of presence, the discussions tend to emphasize the theological understanding of the spiritual presence of God or the confessional thinking on the presence of Christ in the celebration of sacrament of Holy Communion. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to consider just how important our human presence is to each other in our faith community.

But how can our faith communities maintain a connection with these spiritual tributaries during a pandemic—when for the safety of all in the community one’s absence is more encouraged that one’s presence? The receiving of rites and sacraments involve the physical presence and engagement of laity and clergy together in community. Whether we are referring to acts of Christian initiation which welcome one into the Body of Christ (baptism), or those which affirm one’s continued faith growth (confirmation) or at the moment of death (last rites) physical presence is preferred over the virtual.

Church authorities are now seeking to provide ecclesial and pastoral guidelines. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the value and necessity of these practices to our living and being in faith community.

Church Identity

Guidance for Funeral practices

Communion precautions
Response by Rev. Dr Mikie Roberts, WCC programme executive for Spiritual Life and Faith and Order

WCC COVID-19 Support Team

Do you know about more good practices to share? Please feel free to let us know at

27. Should elections be held during the pandemic?

In functioning democracies, regular elections are the essential means of ensuring that governments remain accountable and responsive to the people they govern. However, given that they are also very large social events, they obviously entail significantly increased public health risks in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, postponing or cancelling elections during this period also carries serious risks for democratic accountability, with some leaders only too happy for an excuse to extend their power beyond normal constitutional limits.

Authorities who are genuinely seeking to balance these countervailing risks must consider a number of factors on a case-by-case basis, including:

—Constitutional restrictions or flexibilities regarding the scheduling of elections;

—The nature and severity of the pandemic in that particular context;

—Whether alternative means of voting can be made available, especially to people with special vulnerabilities, and

—Whether sufficient resources are available to ensure that voters, officials and staff can be adequately protected from transmission and infection.

But despite the challenges involved in holding elections during the pandemic, the decision to postpone an election should never be taken lightly. An emergency situation such as a pandemic serves as a test of the quality of the social contract between citizens and their government. It is exactly in such a context that democratic accountability becomes even more important.

Council of Europe: guidance and best practice on holding elections during the pandemic

USA CDC: Considerations for Election Polling Locations and Voters

Lessons from elections in Liberia in 2014 during the Ebola crisis

Elections in a pandemic: Lessons from Asia

An election fraud

Response by Peter Prove, director, WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs

Do you know about more good practices to share? Please feel free to let us know at

28. What are some of the impacts of COVD-19 on the delivery of education to children?

The enforced closing of educational institutions in most countries because of the pandemic has had a ripple effect in most sectors. Subsequently, for many the call for return to the normal ordering of school life is welcome. However, the transition from the brick and mortar classroom to students learning from home has impacted our lives in so many ways. The presence of COVID-19 has undoubtedly brought about many challenges but it has also brought some opportunities for change and growth. Here in the US Virgin Islands, schools were ordered closed in March for three weeks.  But months later, as schools remained closed, fear started to set in as parents and educators became increasingly concerned about: finding childcare, securing their jobs, learning loss, protecting their families from the virus, and the future of the world.  Now, more than ever, it is so important to find silver linings.  Our schools have jumped ahead 50 years with the new technology, educational platforms and trainings that were offered to our teachers and members of the faculty and staff. As people of faith, we affirm that “this too shall pass!”

Belarus Church responds to schools needs

Tragic consequences of school closures in Kenya

Virgin Islands – Guide to Reopen Public Schools

Response by Stefan Jürgen, PhD, superintendent of Schools, St Thomas/St John School District

Do you know about more good practices to share? Please feel free to let us know at

29. What lessons, insights and wisdom do Indigenous communities teach us about dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Indigenous communities occupy 20-25% of the Earth’s land surface, and 80% of that land mass holds the world’s remaining biodiversity. Indigenous peoples and communities embody the wisdom of many centuries. They have been and still are caretakers of the land and ecosystems, understanding the delicate relational interconnectedness between the Creator, Creation and people. The COVID-19 crisis has revealed what indigenous people have been telling the world for so many centuries. They have forewarned that the failure to protect our ecosystems and nature’s biodiversity will lead to a major crisis. The pandemic is an example of how the excessive and misuse of the earth’s resources affect the well-being and health of all creation, people included. Indigenous communities have a deep affiliation and connection to the earth, understanding the importance of living sustainably with creation and with each other. Indigenous communities have knowledge of traditional healing and medicines to treat sickness and disease, which some communities have been using to treat COVID-19 as many indigenous communities still do not have access to healthcare. Indigenous people give our faith communities the gift and wisdom of their indigenous spiritualities that value the interconnectedness of life between Creator, Creation and interdependent relationships. Indigenous people have a critical role in shaping the way forward toward a hopeful post-COVID, post-growth and post-fossil fuel future. Indigenous voices, perspectives, and wisdom are crucial for influencing change and reimagining a new and sustainable future for the whole of creation.

What indigenous people have been saying thousands years
First Peoples connections too strong to sever

WCC honors worlds indigenous communities

Indigenous peoples voices from the ground at the HLPF2020

Responses by Rev. Dr Seforosa Carroll, WCC programme executive, Mission from the Margins/Indigenous Peoples

Do you know about more good practices to share? Please feel free to let us know at

30. How are faith communities responding to global manifestations of racism?

Racism has been an ongoing topic and concern in churches and the ecumenical fellowship since the establishment of the WCC in 1948. During the South African struggle, churches addressed the issue of apartheid. Although the churches were divided on the theological nature of apartheid, for the ecumenical movement they took a stand and denounced racism as a sin. As we read the signs of our times, racism and actions to overcoming it in the church and society have come to dominate the news.  Racism and xenophobia are experienced, for example, by Dalits, indigenous people, Blacks and people of African descent all over the world. One of the most recent reactions to the global manifestation of racism is the Black Lives Matters movement. We must be vigilant to the changing faces of racism. Christians and people all over the world are still facing this challenge. And even, if it is not a popular topic, especially if it is amongst our own Christian constituencies, we must deal with it. For the ecumenical movement and all its member churches it should be self-evident that “every form of racism, also in their own life is contrary to the Word and will of God.” (Common Understanding and Vision, (CUV-Document).

Webinar on Racism, Xenophobia and discrimination in the Asian context

Regional webinar – Latin America and Caribbean

Webinar on Racism, Xenophobia and discrimination in the Pacific context

Webinar on Racism, Xenophobia and discrimination in the Middle East

Webinar on Racism, Xenophobia and discrimination in Africa

Grappling with how racism coexists with faith:

Response by Benjamin Simon, WCC programme executive for Church Relations
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

Do you know about more good practices to share? Please feel free to let us know at

31. Are the measures being taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic contrary to human rights?

Many governments have taken extraordinary measures to control and reduce the pandemic, many of which impinge heavily on people’s daily lives and livelihoods. These restrictions have in some cases provoked strong opposition and complaints about what some see as human rights violations.

Except in the case of certain core – or ‘non-derogable’ – human rights (such as the right to life, the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the prohibition of slavery – and probably also key subsistence rights inherently related to the non-derogable right to life, such as food, housing, and clean water), international human rights law generally allows for governments to derogate from human rights obligations during public emergencies, so long as the measures taken are necessary, proportionate, for the purpose of promoting the general welfare in a democratic society, time-bound, and applied in a non-discriminatory way.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, such emergency powers must be used for legitimate public health goals, NOT for the purpose of quashing dissent or silencing the work of human rights defenders or journalists.

It is important to note that restrictive public health measures, including quarantines, have increased exposure to gender-based violence, particularly intimate-partner violence and domestic violence. Therefore, support services and safe shelters for victims of gender-based violence need to be maintained in order to mitigate against such consequences.

For more guidance on human rights and the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19: A Human Rights Checklist, by Human Rights Watch

Protecting Children’s rights
Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Philippines

Response by Peter Prove, director, WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs

Do you know about more good practices to share? Please feel free to let us know at

32. How can the church advocate for climate justice during COVID-19 pandemic period?

It is perceived that more people are now available on their gadgets during the COVID-19 pandemic period than at any other time. In a bid to self-distance, working, studies, shopping and even worship happen online.

If the church needs to be active online, this has been the perfect time. Hence, advocacy on climate justice by the church can reach more people now.

In Kenya, the Green Anglicans Movement has been carrying out campaigns on social media and directly involving congregants through personalized media packs to encourage both young and old to take a stand and take action. Most recent campaigns are “Season of Creation online” challenges and the “I am A Green Anglicans champion” campaign.

We have seen a huge turnout to online events with great feedback from people inquiring of how best to take action and get involved. This has challenged communication's teams to create simple and precise content to pass as much information as possible in the simplest language possible.

As we gradually set into the new normal, we are holding the momentum by urging dioceses and church leadership generally to mobilize congregants to carry out simple exercises to care for creation such as sustainable tree growing and community cleanups among others whilst observing Ministry of Health regulations.

Prophetic voices of young people
Webinar series: Churches on the Road to an economy of life and ecological justice

Biodiversity an urgent existential issue - Churches in Actions

Green Anglicans movement

Response by Irene Sebastian Waweru, volunteer, Green Anglicans Movement Kenya. Do you know about more good practices to share? Please feel free to let us know at

33. When shall we have a vaccine against COVID-19? Will it be safe? Will it be available to everyone?

The World Health Organization indicates that there are over 200 vaccines in development, some of which are already in advanced stages, with the hope that one or more of them will succeed and receive the approval from medical regulators soon. Once a vaccine is available, they say priority will be given to frontline workers and people at high risk, such as the elderly.

Once a vaccine is available, we can expect some dynamics on the ground. Not everyone who receives a vaccine will develop the immunity, especially those who already have suppressed immune systems. As Christians, we need to continue praying for a speedy discovery of a safe and effective vaccine, and that vaccine availability shall be guided by values of equity and the Sustainable Development Goals ethos of leaving no one behind.

For a biblical reflection on immunisations, see pages 20-23 of Health-Promoting Churches

More information on progress on covid vaccines

When can we expect a vaccine for COVID19? (WHO response)
Response by Dr Mwai Makoka, WCC programme executive for Health and Healing
WCC COVID-19 Support Team

Do you know about more good practices to share? Please feel free to let us know at

WCC answers your questions about vaccines

On World Immunization Week, the World Council of Churches is joining UNICEF and other organizations across the world in encouraging vaccinations for global health. Below, Dr Mwai Makoka, WCC programme executive for Health and Healing, answers often-asked questions about vaccines. He provides some history of vaccines, reflections on the role of faith-based groups, and why children and others are so vulnerable if they don’t receive vaccines.

WCC resources in view of the Coronavirus

Vaccine Champions

Since the World Immunization Week, nine church leaders from different continents are assuming their roles as Vaccine Champions. They joined a team of 300 specially assigned Vaccine Champions, mobilized by UNICEF, to raise awareness on the benefits of immunization. World Immunization Week is a yearly event organized by UNICEF, bringing together key health organizations and others, such as the WCC, to raise awareness on the benefits of immunization. Although the COVID-19 pandemic remains a major challenge, there are several other immunization issues to address.

The WCC team include the following church leaders, who also share their thoughts and reflections on their task and the current situation:  


Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, Switzerland, WCC acting general secretary

“As COVID-19 vaccination programmes are being rolled out, religious leaders of all faiths play a critical role in sustaining public trust in health authorities and services, as well as in the approved vaccines themselves.  As a Christian fellowship, it is our duty and moral obligation to publicly challenge rumours and myths and confront them with facts. While moral and ethical concerns also loom over vaccine access and distribution practices, we must take up responsibility and advocate for what is right from a medical, ethical and human rights perspective.” 

Rev. Gloria Ulloa Alvarado, World Council of Churches President for Latin America and the Caribbean

Rev. Gloria Ulloa Alvarado, WCC president for Latin America and the Caribbean

“Vaccination is important,
Because people who receive the vaccine can approach their loved ones with more confidence, without fear of infecting them or being infected.
Because those who work in healthcare and education can do their work with their patients and students in a less stressful environment.
Because I understand that the COVID-19 vaccine helps protect the human body by creating an antibody-generating response.
Because human history has shown us the effectiveness of vaccination.
Because my mother Noemi, who is 94 years old, has already received two doses of the vaccine and has had no negative effects on her body, she has not had any type of discomfort and this has brought great peace of mind to our whole family.“


Archbishop emeritus Dr Anders Wejryd, Sweden, WCC president for Europe

“Do to others what you want them to do to you! And don’t do what you don’t want them to do to you! I don’t want to be infected by COVID-19 and I absolutely don’t want to be the one that brought the infection on to someone else. Therefore vaccination is simply about solidarity!
I am grateful for the first shot, which I got three weeks ago.
God has given us science and reason. Science and reason can be used for different ends. When vaccines have been developed and are shared, the resources God gives have been used for what God wants.”

Rev. Dr. Fidon Mwombeki, General Secretary   All Africa Conference Of Churches

Rev. Dr Fidon Mwombeki, general secretary, All Africa Conference of Churches

“COVID-19 is far from over and it continues to cause disruptions in the way communities and congregations conduct their activities and actions. The strict adherence to the guidelines in prevention and management has made life difficult and sometimes impossible to cope with.
As church leaders, as we continue to provide hope by promoting acts of solidarity, care and compassion that help mitigate the humanitarian impact of COVID-19 in our communities, we must use the opportunity and our influence to communicate factually, effectively and consistently using credible sources which provide accurate and life-saving information on COVID-19 prevention, management and control.
We have a long history of vaccinations saving millions of lives, and as such we should reject the conspiracy theories against scientific evidence and advocate for everyone to get vaccinated against the deadly COVID-19 virus, avoiding nationalistic tendencies which may isolate countries without many resources. This should be done through a coordinated approach to reach all who need it, as a matter of justice.”

Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen, general secretary, Conference of European Churches

Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen, general secretary, Conference of European Churches

“The past year has been a year like no other. The COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on our lives in ways few had envisaged. While we kept a distance, the world still came closer.
The concerted efforts from scientists have brought the world efficient vaccines, which together with other measures can ensure healthy and safe societies in the world.
Immunization has begun in most countries. We see light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to receiving my jab and cannot wait to hug my first grandchild, who was born at the height of the pandemic. I also look forward to worshipping in a crowded church again.
And I look forward to seeing a world working together towards secure vaccines for all, so it is possible for everyone to hug their family members and gather in their holy places. Until everyone is safe, no one is safe. Together we can reach that day.”

Jim Winkler, president and general secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

Jim Winkler, president and general secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

“The National Council of Churches USA (NCCUSA) joins the World Council of Churches and UNICEF annual World Immunization Week, 24-30 April 2021. We support this effort to save lives and relieve the burden on healthcare facilities.
“I believe it is our faithful responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ to take the vaccine against COVID-19 so that we can be part of the global effort to overcome the pandemic.
As part of this effort, the NCCUSA has joined Faith4Vaccines, a multi-faith effort led by the NCCUSA, Union for Reform Judaism, National African American Clergy Network, Islamic Medical Association, Sojourners, and Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.
Our shared goals are to demonstrate religious communities’ trust in the vaccine, support houses of worship and faith communities to innovatively distribute vaccines, create space for multi-faith collaboration, and pave the way for global, equitable vaccine distribution.”

Pastor Peter Noteboom, general secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

Pastor Peter Noteboom, general secretary, Canadian Council of Churches

“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?
The most important one is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:28-31 NIV)
In this pandemic, what better way to love the Creator God and to love your neighbour than to get vaccinated, advocate for vaccination for all, and contribute time and money to ensure everyone around the world has access to vaccines? The COVID-19 virus does not discriminate. Our response must also not discriminate. We must make vaccines available for everyone everywhere.”

Rev. James Bhagwan, general secretary, Pacific Conference of Churches

Rev. James Bhagwan, general secretary, Pacific Conference of Churches

“If, as Christians, we are committed to loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and our neighbour as ourselves; if we proclaim life in abundance for all, our response to the COVID-19 pandemic must demonstrate this.
Our care as God's people for God's people means we must take every precaution to protect ourselves and others. We pray for the patients, their families and our frontline workers and for their health and safety. At the same time, we put our trust in the knowledge and skills with which God has gifted our health workers—doctors, nurses and health staff. And we follow their directions.
My wife and I received our first dose of the #astrazeneca vaccine to not only protect ourselves, but as our responsibility towards our family, coworkers and community. Whatever you think about or who you blame for COVID-19, or the motives and conspiracies etc, vaccination is important.
But willingness to be vaccinated is only part of the equation, it is important that there is vaccine equity and those communities and groups who urgently need vaccines have access to a full vaccination programme.”

Dr Mathews George Chunakara, general secretary, Christian Conference of Asia

Dr Mathews George Chunakara, general secretary, Christian Conference of Asia

"Although vaccines are one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions and their proven effectiveness has been widely recognized, millions of children in the world lack immunization coverage. One out of three under-immunized children in the world lives in South Asia. The dearth of adequate vaccines and lack of awareness and trust in vaccination are often hindering successful vaccination drives in the region. As COVID-19 vaccines begin to be rolled out gradually, there exist alarming disparities in access to them across the world. Access to vaccines as well as misinformation and mistrust remain a challenge even in the midst of the horrifying catastrophic impact of the pandemic. Considering the need for intensifying vaccinations to combat the pandemic, the Asian churches are now engaged in advocacy for an effective vaccination drive and also in urging members across Asia to promote health-seeking behaviour at the grassroots in order to make this world healthier."

Join the cause

Let’s heal the world and protect our neighbours!

You can join the WCC Vaccine Champions in raising awareness:

  • Find out which vaccinations are recommended for you and your family and how you can get them.
  • Help others find reliable information about vaccination, for example at
  • Take a photo of yourself getting vaccinated (or registering to be vaccinated) and share it in social media with the hashtags #VaccinesWork #WCC

Thank you for being a loving neighbour!

Resources available

Health-Promoting Churches Volume II:

A handbook to accompany churches in establishing and running sustainable health promotion ministries

Based on the premise that the local congregation is the primary agent for healing, and each individual member has a unique gift to contribute to this healing ministry, this book provides guidelines, resources and tools to equip and support local Christian congregations in starting a sustainable health ministry.

It provides a theological and public health basis of the Health Promoting Churches (HPC) model and a guide on organizing the HPC programme sustainably.

Health-Promoting Churches Vol 1

Reflections on Health and Healing for Churches on Commemorative World Health Days
Mwai Makoka

This booklet includes 15 reflections on international commemorative health days from Dr Mwai Makoka WCC Programme Executive for Health and Healing, who emphasises that he is not a theologian, but “ a lay Christian who is a medical professional and keen to promote health and healing from a Christian perspective.

Ecumenical Global Health COVID-19 Response Framework

An A4 pamphlet, the framework identifies core challenges and response strategies for a global ecumenical response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also recommends specific actions. This tool provides practical, simple guidelines for action through which faith communities can have an impact for their members and beyond in these challenging times.