Greetings in the name of the Risen Christ!
Here in the great state of Iowa, we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation. COVID-19 and a challenging farm economy have combined to form an unparalleled convergence of grief, injury, and anxiety in our state, particularly in agriculture and agriculture-related communities.
The purpose of this letter is to help our pastors and lay leadership better identify, name, and support those affected in and near our churches.
We continue to hear of the pain endured by those working in Iowa’s dairy, pork, beef, and poultry processing plants. Many of their employees have contacted COVID-19 and are afraid to take proper care of themselves and have put themselves and their families at great risk. These plants have become “hot-spots” and have had to temporarily close, causing financial difficulties to ripple through their immediate communities outward to impact the producers of the goods they process.
Iowa’s supply chains have broken down and farmers have had to euthanize healthy, fully developed livestock and dump raw milk because it cannot be processed. Iowa’s farmers take pride in raising food for their state and country. They have been trained to be producers and caretakers of livestock, and these challenges have caused never-before-seen trauma, distress, and suffering in Iowa’s farmers and agricultural communities.
The leaders of Iowa’s local churches are in a unique place to accompany these farming friends and families on these painful journeys. Every context is unique, and the details of these traumas are different. Bishop Laurie and the Cabinet would like to encourage you to reach out to those individuals that may be experiencing these situations. One of the most vital ministries that can be provided at this time is the ministry of presence.
You can also offer critical support to those affected by pointing them in the direction of specialized help and healing. Some of these resources include:
These resources are not a finite list; clergy and lay leaders and the people in your congregation will know of other resources and organizations that are on the frontlines of caring for all of God’s people. Please reach out, offer care, and direct people to where they can find help during this crisis.
Iowa’s clergy and lay leaders continue to bless and amaze us as they show the love of Christ in their specific communities. Do not be afraid to contact us and let us know how we can help you to better be in ministry in your context. Please know that you continue to be in our prayers.
Bishop Laurie Haller and Cabinet