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April 4, 2024: Book Talk - Stories That Live On

Updated: Mar 3

Date: April 4, 2024

Time: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Location: Boston Public Library, Jamaica Plain Branch – 30 South St.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

In 1666 there was a village north of London that was hard hit by the Black Plague. No one understood the disease or how to stop it but in a small village in Derbyshire the clergyman led the people in an act of heroism. They quarantined the entire village for one year to prevent the spread of disease. Geraldine Brooks has written a powerful historical novel, about this village, told through the voice of a kitchen maid in the parsonage. It’s entitled Year of Wonders. (2001).  As I read and re-read this amazing depiction of village life 400 years ago, I recognize the powerful potential of religious leaders to make a difference in a community, especially in a crisis.


When the COVID 19 pandemic began in March 2020 I reached for Year of Wonders again for modern clues about how to survive spiritually. I was hoping to learn the kinds of lessons you only learn from history. Of course our COVID pandemic was not the same as the black plague. We have learned a lot about germ theory, and medicine. But human nature has not changed that much as one century tumbles into the next. And modern clergy were often the heroes in their communities in this latest international health crisis. They were the ones who felt responsible not only for religion but also for the health and well-being of everyone in the community.


Then and now, the clergy kept track of public health guidelines even as they offered words of comfort and hope. They set up internet in churches so kids could continue their schooling. They organized food drives to distribute groceries to families who had relied on school lunches.  Just as they were in the 1600’s the clergy in 2020 were our frontline workers that most people did not recognize as such. On April 4, 2024 we will be telling the story of 53 clergy from 8 denominations and 17 states, and share some stories from our book, The Perpetual Pivot: Ministry in the Pandemic and Beyond.


With slides and plenty and readings from the book, we will explain why we believe that clergy are the unsung heroes of this pandemic.

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