[Lambeth Palace] The Ebola virus “strikes straight into the heart” of what it is to be human, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said.
In a video recorded for a World Council of Churches (WCC) consultation on the Ebola response held last week in Geneva, the archbishop also stressed the “absolutely crucial” contribution of churches and other faith communities in responding to the crisis.
The WCC meeting brings together representatives of Christian health, development and aid organizations and U.N. agencies to learn from each other and seek ways of collaboration to escalate their efforts.
In the video, Welby spoke of the “deep sorrow” he encountered on a visit to West Africa last month, where he met with the chief of staff of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) in Accra, Ghana.
“You’re infected by the people you love most, and grieve for most – they are most dangerous to you when they’ve died.”
“This is a challenge to the very heart of what it is to be human.”
In the video, produced in collaboration with the Anglican Alliance – which is supporting the coordination of the Anglican response to Ebola in West Africa – the archbishop said the way that churches grapple with caring for communities affected by Ebola “takes us right back to who Jesus is”.
The love of Jesus “goes well beyond anything reasonable and reaches to those who are struggling, who are dying, who are lost, who are in darkness.
“The person of Jesus Christ… goes into the worst of all possible places, in the worst of all possible conditions, and does so through our hands and feet and eyes and ears. But also does so by his Spirit,” he added.
Highlighting the need to scale up the international response, the Archbishop reflected on the need to overcome fears. “We must go by the science, not by the fear.”
He also emphasized the contribution of faith in partnership with government and other institutions, saying: “The role of the churches and other faith communities is absolutely crucial.”
Anglican dioceses, alongside other faith communities, have been active in the Ebola response in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, working closely with government agencies. Church health teams are working to strengthen health systems, while church leaders and volunteers are providing community education, support and pastoral care. Read more below about the work Anglican churches are doing in response to the Ebola outbreak.
1. Watch the video here: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5451/video-ebola-attacks-what-makes-us-human
2. Read a transcript of the video here: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5452/archbishop-justin-welbys-ebola-video-transcript
3. The World Council of Churches (WCC) is today holding its second consultation in 60 days on the Ebola crisis. The meeting, held at the WCC’s Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, brings together representatives of Christian health, development and aid organizations and UN agencies to learn from each other and seek ways of collaboration to escalate their efforts. Find out more: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/churches-and-agencies-formulate-responses-to-ebola-outbreak
4. In the video, produced in collaboration with the Anglican Alliance, the Archbishop of Canterbury was speaking to the Revd Rachel Carnegie, Co-Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance, which works to promote capacity and coordination in development and relief around the worldwide Anglican Communion. www.anglicanalliance.org
5. Anglicans in West Africa are responding with their own resources and with support from Anglican and Episcopal agencies, such as Episcopal Relief & Development, Us (former USPG) and Trinity Wall Street.
The Diocese of Guinea is working nationally alongside other institutions to educate people, to distribute protection kits, and to equip church clinics with essential materials.
Dioceses in Sierra Leone and Liberia have similar activities. The Diocese of Liberia has also supported a feeding program with technical advice from WHO at a newly opened Ebola Treatment Unit in Monrovia. The provision of a hot-nutritional meal for four weeks led to the full recovery of at least 150 patients.
Meanwhile in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the Anglican Bishop has also provided land for the construction of a 21-bed Ebola isolation center.
The Anglican Alliance is supporting the coordination of the response in West Africa and sharing this learning across the Anglican Communion.
For further information, visit www.anglicanalliance.org and read: http://www.anglicanalliance.org/news/19844/churches-continue-in-fight-against-ebola-whilst-prayers-are-offered-by-christians-worldwide