Resources and Reflections for Religious Leaders

As we weather the coronavirus crisis together, the ICJS is committed to collecting interreligious resources to help religious communities and leaders think creatively and to have space to reflect on the choices they are making to adapt to these singular times. Please check back here for regular updates and new posts.

July 7, 2020
Heather Taylor

Addressing Food Insecurity and Hunger

ICJS Emerging Religious Leaders alumna and Bread for the World Director of Strategic Communications and Campaigns Heather Taylor joined ICJS’ final weekly Congregational Leaders’ call to discuss how COVID-19 has affected and expanded hunger and food insecurity, as well as ways in which our advocacy can lead to change during these trying times.
June 22, 2020
Rev Dr Carletta Allen and Rabbi Andrew Busch

Reflections from Religious Leaders’ Advisory Group on Reopening

The Rev. Dr. Carletta Allen and Rabbi Andrew Busch, both members of an advisory group of religious leaders advising Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on reopening, discussed their experiences during ICJS’ weekly Congregational Leaders’ call on June 18.
June 5, 2020
Pastor Toni Draper

Congregational Leadership Amidst Current Events

The Reverend Dr. Frances (“Toni”) Murphy Draper, founding pastor of the Freedom Temple AME Zion Church in South Baltimore, joined ICJS’ weekly Congregational Leaders’ call on June 4 to discuss the role of religious leaders during this time of upheaval.
May 29, 2020
Rabbi Rory Katz

Reopening: Freedom, Obligation, and Choice

Amidst pushes to reopen, a need to keep congregants safe, and a patchwork of different guidelines and regulations, Rabbi Rory Katz of Chevrei Tzedek joined ICJS’ weekly Congregational Leaders’ call on May 28 to discuss the role of religious freedoms and values in determining if and when religious spaces should begin to reopen.
May 28, 2020
Symbols of jewish holiday Shavuot Torah and wheat field

Thoughts on Torah

By Melissa Zieve *This speech was presented at the Bolton Street Synagogue celebration for Shavuot in 2019. When Andy asked me to be one of the ten people to share […]
May 22, 2020
Rev Dr Al Hathaway

Serving in a Valley

“We’re all in this together” is a phrase thrown around a lot lately. While COVID-19 has affected us all, it has not affected us all equally. This pandemic has revealed and increased disparities that have long been present in Baltimore. The Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr.—a native Baltimorean and Pastor of Union Baptist Church (UBC)—joined ICJS’ weekly Congregational Leaders’ call on May 21 to discuss how to advocate for and serve those communities hit hardest amidst this pandemic. 
May 19, 2020
Reverend Vinny Marchionni, SJ

Mourning Lost Opportunities

Over the last two months, religious leaders have worked tirelessly to convert their congregational life to online platforms. Social distancing mandates and digital services have fundamentally transformed the religious practices that many hold dear. As this new normal becomes more familiar, we also need time to reflect on how we are processing this new congregational life. It is vital that we take time to acknowledge the toll these changes have taken on leaders and mourn what we’ve lost amidst this pandemic. To that end, the Reverend Vinny Marchionni, SJ, of the Maryland Province Jesuits, joined ICJS Congregational Leaders’ call on May 14 to reflect on his own experience of ministerial loss. 
May 12, 2020
Cantor Ben Ellerin

Adapting Sacred Music from Home

Yassine Daoud, ophthalmologist and lay leader / preacher in various Baltimore area- Muslim communities, discusses with other congregational leaders how his preaching and thinking about theology differs from "normal" times, the particular difference in this season of Ramadan, and how his medical and theological identities intersect.
May 6, 2020
Yassine Daoud zoom capture

Thinking about theology and preaching in the midst of a pandemic

Yassine Daoud, ophthalmologist and lay leader / preacher in various Baltimore area- Muslim communities, discusses with other congregational leaders how his preaching and thinking about theology differs from "normal" times, the particular difference in this season of Ramadan, and how his medical and theological identities intersect.
April 27, 2020
The Rev Jim Hamilton and Rabbi Ariana Katz

Building Better Support Networks In and Around Congregations

All congregations and religious communities are made of relational networks of care and concern, but the present pandemic has caused many of those fibers of connection to fray. The April […]
April 20, 2020
Rabbi Charles Arian

Social Distancing and Officiating Funerals: Pitfalls and Promising Practices

April 17, 2020 Speaking to fellow religious leaders from various traditions on ICJS’ weekly “Congregational Creativity in a Time of Crisis” zoom meeting, Rabbi Charles Arian of Kehilat Shalom in […]
April 5, 2020

Practicing Rituals in the Time of Covid-19

Beeswax pillar candles set on a kitchen counter. A handmade ceramic pitcher made by her father when he was in high school. These simple items from Rev. Michele Ward’s kitchen serve to locate her weekly ritual when she pours water into a “baptismal font” (aka a small mixing bowl) to offer the “assurance of grace” to her congregants at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church who are watching on Zoom.