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Have We Been Here Before? The Impact of the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic on Church Life

April 20, 2022 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Reformed Church Center Examines How The Church Has Addressed A Pandemic Before

The years 2020 and 2021 have been marked by the global struggle against the COVID pandemic—which now looks like it may have a major impact on the beginning of 2022, as well. We know that worship and meetings and ministries have been disrupted, that we are coping with various spiritual and psychological traumas, and that there have been a staggering number of deaths. We often believe nothing like this has ever happened before, but it has. The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 to 1920 infected over 500 million people, thirty-three percent of the world’s population at the time. Yet very little is said or taught about that pandemic or its effects on society or the church.

On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm EDT, the Reformed Church Center will look at that phenomenon of over a century ago to see what we might learn about today and about future pandemics. The program “Have We Been Here Before? The Impact of the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic on Church Life” will be presented by Benjamin Doolittle, MD, MDiv, FAAP, FACP, the 2021-2022 Albert A Smith Fellow in RCA History at NBTS. An RCA minister who is active in a local UCC parish in New Haven Connecticut, Doolittle is Professor of Internal Medicine & Pediatrics at Yale University School of Medicine, Program Director of the Combined Internal Medicine & Pediatrics Residency Program at Yale, and Medical Director of the Yale Medicine-Pediatrics Practice. He was also one of two infectious disease specialists who advised the 2021 RCA General Synod on safe meeting practices.

Responding to Dr. Doolittle’s presentation will be Janice McLean-Farrell, Dirck Romeyn Assistant Professor of Metro-Urban Ministry and Assistant Dean of Doctoral Studies at NBTS. McLean-Farrell holds theology degrees from the University of Edinburgh, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, as well as a degree in chemistry from the University of Delaware. Part of her area of specialization includes Religion and Public Life, Migration, and Urban Immigrant Youth and Religion.

After the presentation and the response, all participants will be invited to join in a time of discussion and questions with the two scholars.


April 20, 2022
11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Event Category:


James Hart Brumm, Director, The Reformed Church Center