In these days of pandemic our world has oddly became “virtual,” from graduations and birthday parties all the way to our weekly church services. That is what led us to this special issue of Covalence devoted exclusively to COVID-19.
We felt like we were asking simple questions such as what churches are doing about communion –- but what we quickly discovered was everyone had a different take. While many ELCA congregations in their online services skip it, not all do. In this issue, our theology editor, George Murphy, looks at this issue from the lens of what has been discussed previously regarding ‘telecommunion’ in his timely commentary.
Others wonder whether the virus is a form of God’s punishment and are simply looking for God in what seems to be such a bleak time around the world. In this month’s feature, theologian Thomas Jay Oord gives us a round-up of his response to those wondering how to view this relentless health crisis in light of our faith.
Probably what has surprised us all is the church’s reliance on technology has risen exponentially, with everything from posted services on social media to using special apps to create a “virtual choir.” And we of course are seeing more Zoom committee meetings, bible studies and conferences than we ever thought possible.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, summed it up best in her statement on COVID 19: “I am proud to say that even during challenging times, we continue our service in living out the mission of this church: Together in Jesus Christ we are freed by grace to live faithfully, witness boldly and serve joyfully.”
Susan is an author with a long-time interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology’s online magazine. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member for the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and the Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our Bodies Are Selves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.