Reflections from COVID-19 Outreach Callers

Within several weeks after the coronavirus forced us to close our doors, a team of First Lutheran members were recruited to begin calling on every member of our congregation. These phone calls were intended to see how everyone was coping with the isolation and social distancing guidelines. It was a time to see who needed help, who needed to talk to a pastor, who was feeling alone or who just simply needed a listening ear and someone to talk to. It was also a time to pray with each person. Phone calls were made to all members in March, April and again in late June. We recently asked some of the callers to reflect on their experience and share what it meant to them and to those whom they called. Here are excerpts from some of their stories:

“Because this time caused all of us to take a pause in the routines of our lives, making a phone call seemed like a new way to keep in touch with our church family. We can all quickly send a text or email to a friend or family member, but taking the time to make a phone call and see how someone is doing seems more personal and appreciated by the person you reach out to.”

“I think our members felt the love and concern we have for one another. Some just wanted to talk about how it has been a crazy time and how they were coping with it. Some were anxious and worried about their family and whether all their needs were met. Some in nursing homes loved telling how wonderful the staff has been at trying to keep everyone entertained and yet safe. I heard how they changed bingo so that they could still play and how the staff at one center had a “horse race” of the staff trotting down the halls as the residents sat at their doors to watch. That image still makes me laugh almost as hard as the resident was laughing as she shared how fun and funny it was to watch.”

“The people I reached seemed very appreciative that someone was calling them. When I told friends of mine about it they said they hadn’t heard anything from their church other than they wanted their contributions. I was surprised how moved people were by the prayers we offered during our call. One person actually asked for a copy of one of them.”

“There were 20 people on my call list and everyone I was able to contact expressed appreciation for the call. Three people expressed special needs of which I was able to pass on to the pastors or other church staff.”

“I decided to volunteer to be a caller because I had the time and it was something I could do to help. Making the calls would allow me the opportunity to meet new people or talk to those I haven’t seen for a while.”

“The experience for me is something I can’t put into words. I was surprised that it was more than I ever expected it would be, but in a really positive way. Many just wanted someone to talk to and process what was going on in the world. One of my conversations lasted over an hour.”

“The calls were meaningful to those I called. Even if I didn’t speak to some of the people on my list and had to leave a voicemail message, they knew the church was still thinking of them.”

Kathleen Simley

Author Kathleen Simley

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