Published Mar 31, 2020
FRESNO—More than 50 trained California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief chaplains have volunteered to staff a prayer line to meeting emotional spiritual care needs because of the COVID-19 crisis.
The prayer line 1 (888) C19-PRAY, or 1 (888) 219-7729, is staffed 12 hours daily from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at least through May 3, according to Mike Bivins, director for California Southern Baptist Convention’s Disaster Relief Ministries.
He said the trained chaplains aim at meeting emotional spiritual care needs by helping people feel safe, reducing their stress, helping them to cope, reminding them to stay connected, and providing spiritual presence and prayer.
Bivins reported the idea for the prayer line was borne out of a desire by chaplains to minister during the crisis. At a training session in March chaplains discussed the impending reality and possibility of reaching out through phone conversations to “the most vulnerable victims of the coronavirus disaster who are increasingly being isolated for extended periods of time, which is also the case for many DR volunteers.”
Naomi Paget, CSBC’s lead chaplain, believes the prayer line is a perfect fit for DR chaplains whose goal is to “help people feel safe, reduce their stress, help them cope, remind them to stay connected, and to provide spiritual presence and prayer.”
She added the line is not meant to be informational or used an “emergency or help line.”
Two six-hour shifts of three chaplains each will staff the line. During an online training conference, all volunteer chaplains were trained in guiding a conversation and were given instruction and guidelines to help chaplains navigate calls.
Bivins said the prayer line is being promoted first to California Southern Baptists through its DR network and then “possibly to other organizations active in disaster relief.”