By Carol Elizabeth Owens
COVID-19 has churches figuring out how to remain healthy and connected with their congregations in light of the social distancing guidelines and enhanced public hygiene guidelines issued by health officials.
One local organization finds itself particularly positioned to share a combination of religious guidance and healthcare information addressed to believers’ souls.
The Interdenominational Health Ministry Coalition (IHMC) says that health is a spiritual matter. IHMC met on March 14 to discuss the COVID-19 health crisis in the Greater Rochester community. IHMC’s mission and vision are to “partner, support, engage and educate the Body of Christ concerning how to live a healthy lifestyle that glorifies God,” according to its website.
“We are encouraging our folks to practice the precautions, mandates and orders issued by the government officials, but our official declaration concerning this virus is Psalm 91. We always rely on the word of God first,” said the Rev. Phyllis Jackson a registered nurse and founder of IHMC. “We embrace the word of God that admonishes us to think not only of ourselves but of others.”
She said that social distancing in this situation is one way of demonstrating that we care about other people’s health at this time.
“Health is a spiritual matter,” said Jackson. IHMC works with individuals, groups, and organizations to disseminate reliable, transformative information and to encourage thought-provoking dialogue that will unite people in help create a healthier community.
More than 25 local churches are IHMC members. According to Jackson, IHMC has been “circulating reliable information and updates” to its membership, which embraces denominational diversity. Some of IHMC’s churches represent Baptist, Pentecostal, African Methodist Episcopal, Christian Methodist Episcopal, non-denominational and other faiths, as well as several local nonprofit healthcare service providers.
“We had a full house,” Jackson said about the March 14 meeting. “We are confident in the wisdom that God gives the shepherds of his flock to care for his sheep in a wise and compassionate and holistic way.”
Jackson said prayer also is important in balancing faith with medical facts.
“We continue in prayer for all those impacted by this virus,” she said. Until the crisis resolves, “We urge all of God’s people to let their lights shine in this dark situation and reflect God’s heart to everyone we encounter. … Ultimately, we encourage people of God to acknowledge God in all our ways and let him direct our dealings throughout this challenging time.”