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Faith Leaders Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak
March 13, 2020
This week we learn how faith leaders and government officials learned to work together during an Ebola outbreak. Then we see what houses of worship are doing to protect their congregations.
Rev. David Robinson. Courtesy David Robinson
Lessons from Fighting Ebola: Engaging Faith Leaders Creates Safer Communities March 13, 2020
David Robinson spent three decades coordinating disaster responses for World Vision International, an evangelical Christian non-profit. He was on the ground in Sierra Leone during its worst Ebola outbreaks.  He saw first-hand that cooperation between government health officers and local faith leaders can help contain infectious diseases. But the key ingredient is trust -- in both the faith leaders and in vetted official sources of information. Robinson offers lessons and some cautionary tales for those on frontlines working to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Rev. David Robinson, Independent Consultant for Inter-religious action in humanitarian emergencies & development, and former Senior Advisor for Operations at World Vision International

Participants in a faith leader training in Bo, Siera Leone

Faith leaders' training in Bo, Sierra Leone on the eve of the 2014 ebola outbreak.
Courtesy David Robinson
Rev. Mansfield Kaseman Courtesy Mansfield Kaseman
Not an Afterthought: How One County Works with Interfaith Leaders March 13, 2020
Montgomery County, Maryland has made representatives from two dozen local faith groups an integral part of its crisis response program. Rev. Mansfield Kaseman, the county’s Interfaith Community Liaison describes how faith groups and county officials cooperate to support social cohesion.  Their model has caught the attention of countries around the world, interested in replicating their success.

Rev. Mansfield Kaseman, Interfaith Community Liaison at Montgomery County Government
Rev. Mandy Sloan McDow. Courtesy First United Methodist Church of Los Angeles.
A Big Tent and No Walls: What “Caring for the Least of These” Means to Rev. Sloan McDow March 13, 2020

Los Angeles’ First United Methodist Church’s founding mission was to minister to the “rowdy and incorrigible” in the City of Angels. Today, the small congregation is a church without walls that meets in a tent not far from the city’s notorious Skid Row. As the coronavirus spreads into the community, Rev. Mandy Sloan McDow describes how she and the church’s members protect the most vulnerable in their community. They are packaging hygiene kits for the homeless and making sure their seniors stay home. In the crisis, McDow says she returns to the New Testament stories of Jesus caring “for the least of these,” a reminder to see the person and not the disease.

Rev. Mandy Sloan McDow, senior minister at Los Angles First Methodist Episcopal Church

The congrigation of First United Methodist Church of Los Angeles during a worship service. Courtesy First United Methodist Church of Los Angeles-300x300
The congregation of First United Methodist Church worships at their "church without walls."
Courtesy, First United Methodist Church of Los Angeles