Tags: Ebola Outbreak | Texas | Ebola | Church | faith leaders | Dallas | support

Texas Churches, Faith Leaders Play Support Role in Ebola Crisis

By    |   Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 01:58 PM

In Dallas, ground zero for the U.S. Ebola scare, two churches chart both stereotype fears and stewardship efforts as worries over the stigma of possible contact of the deadly virus mount, the Daily Beast notes of faith's role amid outbreak fears at home.

At the massive Wilshire Baptist Church, Senior Pastor George Mason had dual duty Sunday, briefing reporters and asking congregants to pray for member Louise Troh, a 54-year-old Liberian-American who remained in quarantine along with other relatives.

The church found itself deeply connected to the nation's only active Ebola case because Troh was planning to wed patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who came to the U.S. to be with her, reconnecting their relationship after she spent years raising their 19-year-old son. The couple had consulted with Mason on their wedding.

Now Duncan remains in critical condition at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital undergoing reported experimental Ebola treatment, according to NBC News, as health fears of the contagion's spread nationwide mount.

Across town, another Dallas church deals with similar concerns, the Beast noted of the parallel. Bishop Nathan S. Kortu was extending hope and comfort to his own congregation at the New Life Fellowship in Euless on Sunday where most members, like himself, are Liberian.

"It's stressful news for all of America," Kortu told the Daily Beast. But especially for himself and his church family.

"We don't want it to become a stigma for us," he said. "We don't want people to find out that we're from Liberia and [then decide] that we must have Ebola. That's a very big deal for us. That's a concern."

His congregants are standing by with grave concern as many of their family members still living abroad have contracted the virus or are trying mightily not to contract it, he told the Daily Beast. They are sending up not only prayers for care packages to Liberia, the only way they can help, as Kortu assured them that a growing number of patients in Africa were being treated successfully.

"It's an emotional thing," Kortu told the Daily Beast in a phone interview. "Our relatives are there. Our brothers, our sisters. We pray for them and help however we can."

Meanwhile, Pastor Mason offered updates on Troh, who is asymptomatic, as well as Duncan, whom he noted had never attended a service at his church — a comforting bit of news to members who might have previously feared contact.

"Anyone would be surprised at how close this has been to home," Mason said of finding himself amid a national scare.

In the Dallas neighborhood of Victory Heights, volunteers and residents have stopped coming out to support child enrichment programs and even food banks as Ebola anxiety mounts in the largely immigrant community, Dallas TV station WFAA reported.

Ministers in that South Dallas area have stepped up to squelch rumors and reframe the issue for locals who need facts to deal with their stress, the station noted.

Also arriving to add to the national conversation and stem the divide there was civil rights activist, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, CBS station DFW reported.

"What he is going to do is meet with the southern Dallas pastors and community leaders so they can go back to their churches and community organizations with information on the Ebola virus," local community leader Winsor Barbee told DFW TV of Jackson's outreach efforts.

"A lot of times, the information is the last to get there. A lot of times, they are the most unaware of what's going on."

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In Dallas, ground zero for the U.S. Ebola scare, two churches chart both stereotype fears and stewardship efforts as worries over the stigma of possible contact of the deadly virus mount, the Daily Beast notes of faith's role amid outbreak fears at home.
Texas, Ebola, Church, faith leaders, Dallas, support
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2014-58-07
Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 01:58 PM
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