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Alumni Respond to Pandemic with Patience, Innovation, and Dedication

Eric Williams (MDiv, ’17), chaplain. Photo by Chris Bergin, IU Health.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic reach far into nearly every corner of life. Social distancing has altered the way we work and the way we share our lives with others, even the way we worship and shop for groceries. For some, the pandemic has turned homes into ad hoc workspaces, digital conference rooms, and pulpits. For others, it has meant going to work with a heightened concern for personal health and safety. For many CTS alumni, ministry in the time of COVID-19 is requiring patience, innovation, and dedication.

Rev. Lee Ivey III (MDiv/MACMHC ’18), a counselor at the Martin Luther King Community Center on Indianapolis’s near north side, has been using digital tools to provide services to young people at a time of heightened stress and conflict.

“Working around the clock, what does that really mean in a time like this?” Ivey said. “In this moment, in our time, perhaps [young people] need it more than they did before, finding ways to connect…is ultra-important.”

He is working tirelessly during this time to connect with youth and give them “permission to not have the answers.”

In the end, he says that his message is all about peace. Learn more about Ivey and his work in this Fox 59 story.

For Dr. Preston T. Adams, III (MDiv ’96, DMin ’05), the Founding and Senior Pastor at Amazing Grace Christian Church in Indianapolis, the pandemic has made some aspects of ministry more difficult, while also calling on him to be more creative. He said that his focus of study on practical ministry at CTS has proven especially helpful during this time.

Adams explained that the hardest part has been not being able to be physically present with his congregants. “I am a very relational pastor so being in the presence of our members is quite fulfilling,” he explained. Although he laments the disruption, he is grateful for the opportunity to connect with people through livestream, over the telephone, and even with occasional “drive-by visits” to members.

“The biggest insight I’ve gained,” Adams said, “is that the church will prevail.”

Eric Williams (MDiv ’17) is a staff chaplain at IUH Methodist primarily assigned to the Emergency Department and Cardiovascular Critical Care. Normally, he said about half of his day is spent meeting with families. Now those interactions are more brief and take place over the phone. “I have to do a lot more guesswork without seeing their faces. I have to listen for the silences and the words that are indicators of sadness and fear,” he said. “Families give us the story of the patient’s life. That’s pretty easy to do, face to face. But with only ten minutes on the phone, I know less about my patients.”

While the pandemic has made some aspects of the work more difficult, it has also allowed for some longer and deeper conversations with patients, which, he said, is why he fell in love with the work. Williams said that now almost half of his day involves providing spiritual care for hospital staff and that an increasing number of his conversations address the wellbeing of both the patient and the doctor as well.

Williams is an accomplished poet, and he has begun using poetry with hospital staff as part of his care. “When was the greatest poetry and philosophy written? In times of crisis. Poetry and philosophy are responses to moments just like this,” he said. He has also recently written several poems of his own. Especially during the recent months, he said, chaplaincy has been “the single most important thing I’ve ever done and probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Methodist ED in Late March 2020
By Eric Williams

Noses and mouths
Cheeks and chins
Covered in yellow and white and blue

Hair under caps
Heads under cover
Curls tucked behind ears

Faces behind shields
Eyes behind goggles
The windows of the soul partly obscured

But we know each other’s voices
And recognize each other’s frames

Even in these awkward outfits
We know who we are
And to whom we belong

© 2020. Eric A. Williams. All rights reserved.



Also included in the May 2020 Christian Theological Seminary Connection

 

  • Faith & Action Project April 2020 Newsletter - Read the newest edition of the Faith & Action Project’s monthly newsletter!
  • Alumni Respond to Pandemic with Patience, Innovation, and Dedication - The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic reach far into nearly every corner of life. Social distancing has altered the way we work and the way we share our lives with others, even the way we worship and shop for groceries. For some, the pandemic has turned homes into ad hoc workspaces, digital conference rooms, and […]
  • CTS Counseling Center Meets Community Needs Amid Pandemic - From personnel reconfiguration to facility enhancement to service delivery, the Counseling Center at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) has undergone significant changes over the past few months. These efforts are to ensure that the Counseling Center continues to be a powerful resource in the community. “For over fifty years, the Counseling Center at CTS has been […]
  • Amy Lindeman Allen CTS Offers Innovative Course on the Bible in Contemporary Moral Debate - Prof. Amy Lindeman Allen, Assistant Professor of New Testament, is offering an innovative course about the Bible in contemporary moral debate. “Biblical values” has become a catch phrase in today’s political and social world, and Prof. Lindeman Allen’s new course will study its 21st century application, its meaning(s), and its connection to diverse interpretations and […]
  • Prof. Bill Kincaid Receives Faculty Promotion, Announces New Initiative and Book - Shortly after completing two years as Interim President, CTS is excited to announce that Prof. Bill Kincaid has been promoted from Associate to Full Professor and is now the Herald B. Monroe Professor of Leadership and Ministry Studies. Prof. Kincaid has been a significant part of the teaching and administrative life of CTS for many […]
  • Emergency-Relief Grants Awarded to 7 Poverty-Fighting Projects - In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Christian Theological Seminary’s Faith & Action Project is providing $75,000 in emergency relief grants to seven organizations whose poverty mitigation work includes mental health services and family stability measures. Working with community networks, past Faith & Action grant recipients and others, CTS identified seven organizations who received these emergency […]