The Church of Uruguay Facing the COVID-19: Opportunities in Crisis

By Alianza Evangélica Latina

At present, Uruguay, just like the rest of the countries in South America and the world, is fighting with all its might a battle with the common enemy – an invisible enemy that is taking the lives of thousands of people around the world: the COVID-19. Data on the pandemic in the country, according to the last update on April 5, show that since March 13, the day a health emergency was declared, 5,208 tests have been processed, with 4,802 negative and 406 positive results.

Of the 406 positive cases with COVID-19 through the diagnostic test throughout the country, 14 are in intensive care and 1 in intermediate care. On April 5th, the sixth death due to the virus was confirmed. This 84 year-old patient from Montevideo had a previous history with pandemics. The departments with confirmed cases are still: Canelones, Colonia, Flores, Lavalleja, Maldonado, Montevideo, Paysandú, Río Negro, Rivera, Rocha, Salto and Soriano. The encouraging news is that out of 406 cases, 104 patients have already been fully recovered.

The government has taken very important preventive measures, taking examples from countries such as Japan and Korea among others. The measures of isolation and quarantine are being respected by the majority of the population, producing a low number of infections compared to other countries.

From the Council of Evangelical Representativeness of Uruguay, we have assumed the task of joining the preventive measures from the beginning of the outbreak of the disease in the country, that is why in early March we sent a letter to all partners urging churches and pastors not to meet in their churches, as highlighted by the government authorities. Moreover, a letter has been sent to the secretary of the president where the buildings of the 1,400 churches in the country were offered for use if necessary and as appropriate. All these actions, among others, helped improve the relationship between the CREU and the government.

On the other hand, an important rapprochement was achieved in the relations with the Catholic Church, as a result of this whole pandemic. A meeting with Cardinal Daniel Fernando Sturla of the Catholic Church in Uruguay is planned for the coming weeks.

In terms of the Christian Churches in the country:

The Churches are going through a strong financial crisis, especially the smaller ones. However, each one is being supported and helped by its associations and denominations. On the other hand, the churches with greater solvency have created aid programs for the most vulnerable sectors of the population, making “public pots” by cooking and delivering meals to people with limited resources.

The Church responds in a positive manner, and one can notice the solidarity of the brothers, which highlights that this whole situation of the pandemic has become an opportunity to continue preaching the gospel. Many people have been moved to repentance and others have had the opportunity to continue advancing in the work.

We emphasize that the CREU has had an increase in its social mass by 40% in the last year. At present the Council of Evangelical Representativeness of Uruguay brings together more than 1,400 churches and 80% of the evangelical population of the country. There are approximately 250,000 people involved.

In the midst of the crisis generated by this pandemic, we believe that we have a good opportunity for the Church of Christ to continue gaining ground in the country by positioning itself strongly in society.

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