Friends, I pray this HMA Today reaches you in good health and good spirits as you offer your vital health ministry in the continuing global pandemic that’s touching each of us locally and individually.  Your presence and guidance grounded in faith, helping to ground those you serve in faith and health continues to be needed more than ever.  Thank you for your service!
The continuing pandemic is revealing three aspects for us to address.  The physical/medical thread still calls for our maintaining physical distancing until the disease is brought under control.  For the foreseeable future, public health leaders tell us we need to stay this course.  In the meantime, in our health ministry work, we offer virtual connection with those we serve, helping mitigate isolation and hopelessness—and learning new technological skills along the way, to boot.
At the same time, the economic aspect has been drastically affected by the necessary physical distancing.  Peoples’ livelihoods, businesses, and states’ budgets are threatened, causing an additional stressor to be addressed.  You’re serving folks who are—and maybe you are—struggling to stay afloat monetarily, helping them find potential resources, offering support and faith.  HMA itself will be exploring ways to stay financially stable in this trying time.
Thirdly, the environmental aspect has been more evident lately, as our physical distancing means we’re not driving vehicles as much and businesses aren’t manufacturing as much.  The striking evidence of the positive environmental impact is seen in contrasting photos of big cities such as New Delhi, India, showing clear blue skies most recently in contrast to dark, smoggy air not so long ago.  The World Health Organization indicates that 7 million people around the world die each year from air pollution.  This is a chronic public health crisis, on a larger par than even this tragic COVID-19 pandemic.
Emerging from the pandemic can provide opportunity to address the economic and environmental aspects of our communal living.  Whenever physical distancing is—carefully–eased, we can create new courses of economic development that provide financial opportunity equitably and take care of the earth we call home.  You and I will continue to play a vibrant role in creating these new courses, showing how faith and health (individual and public) are intertwined. 
While helping people navigate this pandemic and in encouraging our communities toward big-picture health courses (including economic and environmental aspects), we bring spirit/Spirit into peoples’ lives and our common life together. 
Do take good care of yourselves as you care for those important to you, your congregations, your colleagues, your communities.  Bless you!

Rev. Karen MacDonald, M.Div.
President, Health Ministries Association