All summer I’ve been walking and praying for the church, and Presbyterians across the country have been sharing this pilgrimage of prayer with me. Our focus has been on congregations, their members and their leaders, and we have prayed for every Presbyterian church from the West coast to the East.

Foremost in our prayers has been the concern for congregations coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, finding new ways to worship, provide pastoral care and continue their mission work in this new context. We’ve also been praying for one another as we make decisions about re-opening our churches, asking God for wise answers to the questions of if, when and how to gather in person again in our churches.

Over the last few weeks, however, my prayers have shifted a little to focus on the students and families in our churches and communities. After what has been described as “the longest March break ever,” schools across the country are preparing to re-open. Many students, parents, teachers and administrators are feeling worried and anxious about how this is going to work.

What will it be like to teach and to learn wearing masks all day? How will physical distancing be maintained with so many students in small spaces? How will health screening happen so that students who are sick do not share their illness with others? What will happen if there is an outbreak in one or more of our schools?

In the midst of all this uncertainty, I see Presbyterians across the country asking questions and raising concerns to governments and school boards. Many of you are not only worrying but also advocating for clear and practical plans so that schools can keep students, teachers, families and communities safe while providing education for all. You are in my prayers, friends, especially those of you who are parents, and especially those of you who are teachers.

Perhaps in these days leading up to the new school year, you might keep Philippians 4:4–9 nearby and read it again whenever you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed or negative about this continuing pandemic situation and its impact on our children and families:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

As schools across Canada prepare to re-open soon, let us pray for all students, teachers, parents and administrators, that they may have peace in their hearts, wisdom in their minds, and all the resources required for a safe and fruitful school year for all.

—The Rev. Amanda Currie
Moderator of the General Assembly