Two new World Council of Churches podcasts highlight the intersection of racism and COVID-19. Guests are Rev. Dr Karen Georgia Thompson, associate general minister for Wider Church Ministries and Operations and co-executive for Global Ministries, United Church of Christ in the USA, and Rev. Canon Emmanuel Chikoya, general secretary, Council of Churches in Zambia.
Thompson reflects on the way in which COVID-19 has unevenly affected some groups in the US. “I think that’s been a big challenge here in the United States, particularly because there has been such a disparity in the ways in which COVID-19 has affected historically underrepresented groups in the United States,” she said, including persons of color and racially marginalized people.
Chikoya speaks of the challenges facing pastors as they try to accompany people who are losing loved ones to COVID-19. “It was a nightmare to deal with these issues,” he said, reflecting on how rituals and pastoral care have changed due to virus restrictions.
“When people had loved ones who died, they expected their priest there, he said. “Then you were told not to go. You want to cross into another area, it becomes a challenge. In the meantime, you have an obligation. You are told only 50 people can come. Among the 200, among the 300—who are you going to pick?”
Both Thompson and Chikoya offer insights on the role of churches. Churches, said Thompson, have be “a living voice,” she said, “and that really is about the global family.”