Join in McKillop United Church’s social media campaign
At McKillop United Church in Lethbridge, we have been wrestling how to connect our Christian spirituality to Covid-19 and to our culture. We are very concerned that only 40% of Albertans are wearing masks. Studies (Lau et al., 2004; Tang et al., 2009; Lai et al., 2020) and computer simulations (Kai et al., 2020; Yan et al, 2019) found that an 80% masking rate in populations is more effective than either a strict lockdown or social distancing to prevent viral spread. A new study suggests that if 95% of the population wears a mask when outside their bubble (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/07/23/894425483/can-masks-save-us-from-more-lockdowns-heres-what-the-science-says), we would get exponential decay of Covid-19 – that is, infections would eventually stop.
It seems so easy – if we would all wear a mask when we leave home and are with other people, we could make a significant difference. Suddenly, a verse of Scripture came to us: “Love Your Neighbour as Yourself” (Mark 12:31). We are being asked to love each other by the simple act of wearing a mask. We know that masks are uncomfortable at times. Masks are sometimes hot and can fog up eye-glasses. It requires a change in behaviour – and the attitude behind this behaviour is love. We also thought of a Scripture verse for those who are resisting it from John 15:13, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” At McKillop, we believe we are being asked to lay down our usual way of doing our lives for one another. This is love. This is the message of the gospel. We sacrifice our usual (preferred) way of being in order to love others.
So, we have started a social media campaign on our Facebook and Instagram sites, which we are boosting, to ask others in our community to love others by wearing a mask. The ads are a bit edgy for some, but we are trying to get the attention of those under 50 who are now becoming the new carriers of Covid-19.
We didn’t make the decision to be edgy (with the implied swear word) lightly. We had focus groups and many rounds of revisions and the ads as they stand are less edgy than when we began. We did this believing that the lives of the people who are most vulnerable are worth protecting. Polite reminders haven’t been working in Alberta. Rude words weren’t prohibited in the Bible.
We are a congregation that takes risks as we seek to follow the way of Jesus. Jesus took risks: he was willing to make a scene to make his point, whether overturning tables in the temple, bringing a slur to the forefront to let it be dealt with, and insulting others with broad terms.
As a church, we are here to help everybody thrive and live life in all its abundance.
If you want to join this Social Media Campaign, we are more than willing to share the images that we are using or you can be creative and spread this practical love in a way that fits the ethos of your community. You’ll find the images on McKillop’s Facebook page. Either way, let’s all wear a mask for love’s sake.