Blog Post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery Leader

Last weekend I had a difficult conversation with my soon-to-be 90-year-old father about attending worship on Sunday in Chicago. He was determined to do it, and he did. I was disappointed that his pastor held service in a church that seats 3500. I was more disappointed that Dad went anyway, in spite of warnings, calls from his children, and public messages from the government. Just imagining him at the church stressed me out. Afterward, when I had to then try and talk him out of getting on an airplane to go to Florida to play golf, I was exasperated. (Thankfully, he decided not to go.)     

In addition to sickness and illness, I now realize that the coronavirus is bringing stress to our world and our lives. Kids are home from school. Offices and restaurants are closing. Hourly workers are being hit hard. There is tension in family life. Churches are trying to figure out what does it mean to be faithful and how to maintain community.

In this time of stress, one of my first concerns in the well-being of the pastors, teachers, chaplains, and leaders in the presbytery. Leadership matters. If the leadership of the church or institution is cloudy in their thinking and incapacitated in their actions because of stress, then the entire church or organization suffers.

I asked Rev. Renita Mercado-Heinzl, director of the chaplaincy program at St. Luke’s hospital, to share a list of online sights, articles, and books she could recommend to our leaders. Renita provided a treasure trove of information! I found that just taking the time to look at some of these resources reduced my stress levels! I’m going to list them after the article, but you may want to be sure to see the this one on “10 Ideas for Church Financial Leaders Amid the COVID-19 Crises”. One of the suggestions is to “send messages of hope, encouragement, and impact.” You can find it here:

Another one I found helpful is a commentary from the Baltimore Sun called, “Coronavirus Stressing You Out? Here’s How to Cope”. Her first recommendation is to limit the intake of media. She also suggests we do things that bring happiness or pleasure. You can find it here:

Be sure to look at the Headington Institute page with titles such as Resilience, Stress and Burnout, Trauma, and Lifestyle Balance.

When you feel the pressures building, stop, breathe, move around, read an article or a book, gather your thoughts. Pray at any point! Know that we are in this together, and we will come out of this together. Pray for me, as you are all in my prayers as well.

Rev. Craig M. Howard





  • Posted March 17, 2020 5:37 pm
    Charles Pfeifer

    Thanks Craig, Good piece.

  • Posted March 17, 2020 5:49 pm
    James Willock

    Good and helpful advice, Craig.
    I found a Muslim perspective in a recent CNN article insightful: “For many Muslim men, group prayers on Friday are a religious obligation. But as congregations across the country and the world weighed whether to stay open, experts in Islamic law stepped in.
    One of the more influential statements came via the Islamic Society of North America. Together with Muslim medical experts, the society strongly recommended that congregations take precautions against the pandemic, including immediately suspending congregational prayers, Sunday school, and other community gatherings.
    “It is our moral duty as Muslims that we take all steps necessary to safeguard ourselves and others around us from this terrible disease,” the Fiqh Council of America wrote in the society’s statement.
    “One’s personal desire to do obligatory prayers at the masjid (mosque) or fulfill other religious duties comes secondary to ensuring the common health of the larger community.”

  • Posted March 17, 2020 7:09 pm
    Alex Lysdahl

    Thank you, Craig. Your leadership is so appreciated.

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