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Humanitarian Disaster Institute Releases New Resources to Help Churches Prepare for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 11, 2020

This week, the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) at Wheaton College released four new resources to help churches and church leaders prepare and respond to the coronavirus outbreak in their congregations and communities: an online resource hub; a Friday webinar series, “Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus,” kicking off Friday, March 13 at 12pm CT; a new manual, Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus (COVID-19): A Step-by-Step, Research-Informed and Faith-Based Planning Manual; and a planning template. All can be found at wheaton.edu/hdi-covid19.

“Research has shown that houses of worship are often one of the first places people turn when they are in crisis—whether they need physical, emotional, or spiritual support,” says Jamie Aten, Ph.D., disaster psychologist and founder and executive director of HDI. “In a public health crisis, churches also face unique challenges and questions as a public gathering space. We created these resources to help pastors and church leaders navigate this crisis with confidence.”

Aten has been a highly-sought after expert amongst global media outlets covering the coronavirus outbreak as the number of confirmed cases continues to grow in the U.S. His expert comments have been featured in outlets ranging from The Washington Post and The New York Times to BBC Radio, as well as in several religious outlets. HDI’s online hub is a one-stop place to see all of HDI’s resources regarding how the U.S., and particularly churches, need to prepare for a potential coronavirus outbreak in their community.

HDI’s mission is to help the church prepare and care in a disaster-filled world, including by creating evidence-informed resources for disaster, spiritual, and emotional care in light of crises. To that end, Aten and Kent Annan, M.Div., Director of Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership at Wheaton College Graduate School, will host the first installment of an ongoing webinar series, “Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus,” on Friday, March 13 at 12pm CT. The free webinar is open to any church or ministry leader and is scheduled to occur every Friday as the outbreak continues and public health risks stay high.

“As so many people in our congregations and communities are feeling anxious about the unknown this outbreak presents, the church has an opportunity to replace panic with preparedness and live out God’s commandment to bring good news and healing to those who suffer and serve the most vulnerable in our communities,” says Annan.

In addition to the webinar series, Aten and Annan have co-written a practical, 28-page manual available for download, Preparing Your Church for Coronavirus (COVID-19): A Step-by-Step, Research-Informed and Faith-Based Planning Manual, which offers faith communities a 6-step guide for preparing and planning for a public health threat like coronavirus. With biblical wisdom, research insights, and quick, actionable steps, this manual equips all traditions and denominations with practical ways to address the coronavirus threats and potential emergency.

To access all of HDI’s coronavirus resources, visit wheaton.edu/hdi-covid19.

The Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College (IL) is the first faith-based academic disaster research center in the country. Its mission is to help the church prepare and care for a disaster-filled world. HDI uses research to create resources and events geared toward students, survivors, helpers, and researchers. HDI also recently launched the M.A. in Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership & Trauma Certificate to prepare the next generation of humanitarian and disaster professionals to lead with faith and humility, utilize evidence-based practice, and serve the most vulnerable and the Church globally. Learn more at wheaton.edu/HDI.