This Q&A is the seventh in a 19-part series, "19 COVID-19 Stories," updated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, diving into the unique perspectives of the Corvallis community as they face COVID-19 and all its social and economic effects.
Mike King is the senior pastor at Suburban Christian Church, located in Corvallis, Ore. His job is to lead the church and keep it running. He oversees staff, works with the church's board and represents the church when working with nonprofits and other organizations. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Mike has been helping to lead pre-recorded sermons so they are ready by Sundays to be posted to YouTube, and his congregation is working to help out in the community by supporting foster families, bringing groceries to those who must stay inside and checking up on those who may be isolated.
What has your day-to-day life been like since COVID-19?
Just like everyone else, spending a lot more time from home. Working more from home now, I still do come into the office once a week because we still are recording Sunday’s service on Thursdays. We have a large sanctuary and there's only six or seven of us, allowing for the social distance the governor ordered. Working from home is interesting since we have four kids, trying to help with school.
What perspectives have you learned from this situation?
People, I think both inside the church and outside the church, often think about going to church. The main thing the church does is gather on Sundays for a large meeting, but the goal of the church is not to gather, the mission is to have the people be the church. You can be the church wherever you are, it just involves trying the best you can to live out the teachings of Jesus, which is that we love God and those around us and I think people are finding opportunities to do that.
What has been the hardest part of this all since the virus?
In our congregation, there has been a little hardship this week with hearing more people being laid off as there is more economic impact. We have a number of people who are older or because their health are at a higher risk so some have started to self-isolate. There are people now who are more isolated, so people from our congregation are going out to purchase groceries and leave them out on the porch for people keeping that social distance. We also are having people call those who may be isolated just to help them stay connected.
What has been the most uplifting part of all this?
As a local congregation, I feel that faith communities need to be good neighbors. You need to help the community all that you can, not just taking care of yourself but helping out beyond your walls. While I have been working here we have been continuing to develop partnerships with the Benton County Department of Human Services to provide support to foster families and those kids within the system. One of the things that have been encouraging throughout this is that we have been able to continue with that partnership. As everything has been so upside down with COVID-19, there's a greater strain on the foster care system right now. We are working with a statewide non-profit and they are using our facility as a place where people can drop off supplies for foster parents that foster parents can come and pick it up. It’s been encouraging for me to see that the relationships we have formed are continuing to be helpful.
Is there anything you would like to share now?
This is a very unsettled and anxious time but by my understanding, when Jesus was here on Earth he was very clear about what he was here to do. Jesus came to help everyone live a full and free life that they were created to have. Right now there is so much uncertainty and anxiety for people, that I think for people who wouldn’t consider themselves Christians there's great wisdom in the teachings of Jesus and how they help us navigate through hard times. If nothing else, times like this help remind us that we aren’t in control of our lives like we think we are.