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What the Church can do during a pandemic

By David Hale - posted Wednesday, 1 April 2020

The church can help people impacted by the pandemic, not with prayers, but jobs. The Catholic Church for example is one of the biggest private employers in the country. Church services may have stopped but their hospitals and schools and most of their charities continue to be staffed.

Keeping people employed in these places an important goal for households and society. It should also be a more important goal for churches as well.   

Religion’s contribution to society should not just be viewed as what is offered at worship services. Religion’s contribution also includes the much more practical and secular things. It is these things that places of worship need to be encouraged to do more of.


How many more people could churches employ at a time like this, or any time really? Are churches doing enough for the poor, the ones usually impacted the most by any crisis? How many beds could the hundreds of churches in Brisbane provide to the homeless at short notice? How well stocked are the food pantries, if all places of worship even have them?

How quickly can places of worship utilize the skills, talents and resources of their parishioners. They may not even know how many talented people they have, or what they do or how to contact them. 

Do they have ambitious enough targets when it comes to raising money? Not to cover church expenses but secular expenses. Medical research, poverty eradication and natural disaster responses for that matter.

Religious institutions frequently lobby governments, in the hopes of getting them to do more to help those in need. It is the government that has the resources to do the most good at times like this. Yet, how many parishioners are even aware of the church work in this area? How many people are involved in the campaigns to raise the rate or ensure a liveable wage for people with work. Two things that can help make life easier for people especially now.

We may need to ask not just about how the parish is going. We may have to ask how the church hospitals are going, how the homeless services are going and not just during pandemics.

The theology is already there, we are called to help the poor and the sick. The action, however, may not be there, as much as it should be.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints emphasis volunteering. This is the main reason Utah, in America often has the highest volunteering rate of any US state. How many other places of worship can mobilize high numbers of volunteers?

Religion has always offered more and should offer more than just faith services. Religious people do and should offer more than just prayers. There are many doctors and nurses on the frontline who happen to also be people of faith. There are charities started and run by people of faith. There are volunteers, who at times because of that faith, serve their community.  There are those who donate to charity or donate more, because of that faith. We need to ensure more of this especially when it comes to employment.

The church’s most important role now may not have anything to do with theology. The jobs they provide might be the most important role, and hopefully they continue to provide them {or the wages at least} amid shutdowns.

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About the Author

David Hale is an Anglican University Lay Chaplain, staff worker for the Australian Student Christian Movement and a member of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship.

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All articles by David Hale

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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