As Depression, Anxiety, Grief Spike during Pandemic, Churches Offer Hope

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As Depression, Anxiety, Grief Spike during Pandemic, Churches Offer Hope


CHICAGO (RNS) — Not long into the coronavirus pandemic, the Rev. Sandra Maria Van Opstal, a pastor at Grace and Peace Church on the West Side of Chicago, began to hear from congregants who lost their jobs and were struggling financially as the city closed nonessential businesses to slow the spread of the virus.

Some congregants were essential workers who were anxious about their exposure to the coronavirus and staying apart from family members so they didn’t risk bringing the virus to them.

Some had lost loved ones to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Others were unable to celebrate births or graduations.

And all that was before the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, a reminder of the systemic racism that exists in the United States and the trauma that it has caused communities of color.

“I don’t think we can ever underestimate the level of trauma we’re all experiencing,” Van Opstal said.

As Americans deal with the impacts of the pandemic and the country’s reckoning over racism, many Christian leaders, organizations and churches are providing resources not only to care for their spiritual and physical health, but also their mental health. 

The Chicago pastor said churches have a key role in helping people deal with the fears and anxiety raised by the current crises. 

“It’s giving people a sign of hope, not just through our words, but the…

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