The Right Reverend Dr Daniel Sylvanus Mensah Torto, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Accra has said the COVID-19 pandemic has immensely affected church mission and pastoral care globally.
He, therefore, called for strategic thinking to deal with the new normal and effectively utilize the opportunities therein.
Bishop Mensah Torto made the remarks in a homily on the theme, “Doing Pastoral Care in the Era of the New Normal; New Thinking” at Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday held at the Cathedral Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Accra, as part of services preceding Easter.
On Maundy Thursday morning during the Holy Week, the Bishop, joined by the Priests of the Diocese, gather at the Cathedral to celebrate the Chrism Mass which amongst other objectives, manifests the unity of the Priests with their Bishop.
During the mass, the Bishop blesses three oils – the Oil of Catechumens, the oil of the Infirm, and Holy Chrism – which will be used in the administration of sacraments throughout the Diocese for the year.
Rt. Rev. Mensah Torto said, “the current pandemic has made pastoring an even greater challenge, but with challenges come opportunities since old ways of pastoring are being gradually eliminated or restricted”.
He said the church needed to embrace the new ways of doing pastoral ministry to meet the changing times.
“This pandemic will end” he assured, and said, while it still tarried and dramatically changed the ways pastoral work was carried out, it was significant for churches to be strategically placed and adopt practicable means of going about their ministries.
He reminded the Priests of their pastoral mandates during their ordination to care for each other holistically and noted that, since they served a large population that had been disproportionately affected by the pandemic or at the risk of infection, they owed it a duty of care to shepherd them.
“Amid the COVID-19 attack, we are called to shepherd the flock although the prevailing circumstances render it difficult, let us find alternative ways of doing mission and ministry” the Bishop admonished.
As a measure to stem the tide, he called on parishes in the Diocese to begin to think digitally and leverage on technology in their respective ministry to evangelize, make disciples, and explore opportunities for revenue generation to grow the church.
“We may not have the opportunity of fully having in-person services, but still ministry must not cease,” he said, and explained that it was an even bigger opportunity for churches to stream online using digital communication strategies to keep parishioners connected and encouraged at all times.
The Anglican Bishop said as churches had been characterised by low attendance, it was important for those churches to renew their commitment to their members who are still unsure about their safety in churches amid COVID-19, and ignite a digital transformation to connect and engage them.
He called on Christians to devote themselves to unceasing prayer and be good stewards as that would shape and make them more effective and fruitful.