By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
ALTHOUGH church services have been suspended amid the COVID-19 crisis, Bahamians can still turn to the religious community for assistance during these hard times.
Rev C B Moss, pastor at Mt Olive Baptist Church, said not only will his church offer spiritual counselling in this national lockdown, but also food to those whose lives have been affected by mass layoffs.
“We are a relatively small congregation and we are in a very intimate way keeping in touch with all of our people,” Rev Moss said. “And, not only are we providing spiritual help, but also material help. It is frightening the need that exists, particularly in certain sectors of our society. People are going to need a lot of help and that concerns me, because in addition to the negative impact of the virus itself from a health perspective, but it’s the social and economic fallout that’s going to be very devastating.
“So we have always had a safety net approach, not only for our members, but for our community and we are putting that into effect now. For example we have a hotline that people can contact us with questions and for information on the virus and of course even just stress relief. We also are coordinating with other churches in the community to provide a source of sustenance for people.
“A lot of our people lived hand to mouth before this, but this (pandemic) has exacerbated the situation and it has added a new element which is the element of uncertainty and it breeds fear. “People are fearful and it will have an impact on our social fabric. So we are working on that and we are also trying to help them economically.”
The Meadow St church is part of the Bain’s and Grant’s Town Association - an association dedicated to meeting the needs of people in the area. Rev Moss urged people and businesses to donate where possible to the association, to help the church provide hot meals to those in need.
Amid public health fears, Rev Moss is worried about the long-term social impact from layoffs and an economic slowdown.
“We have got to look at the long-term problem. See the public health issue; there’s little we can do about that except try to contain it and follow the (social) distance philosophy so that we can have a handle on it. It’s the social impact that I am somewhat concerned about, because people who are already under stress and it is made worse by layoffs and things like that. So we have got to be prepared to deal with any social unrest because that is a reality. This is not any fear mongering, it is a reality,” he said.