Coronavirus, the Hartford Civic Center Roof, and the Will of God

[The following was a March 20th, 2020 email alert from executive director Peter Wolfgang to the members of the Family Institute of Connecticut.]

It was 1978. I was eight years old. A second grader at Buckley School in Manchester, CT.

And my grandmother took me into downtown Hartford because she wanted me to see this:

The roof of the Hartford Civic Center had collapsed. To my grandmother, it was a sign of human frailty. “Man thinks he is in charge but he is not,” she told me. “Remember the Tower of Babel. Whenever we start to think like that, God will humble us.”

The smallness of man was not the only lesson she sought to impart that day. I remember her dwelling in particular on the mercy of God.

Just six hours prior to the roof’s collapse, over 4,000 people had been present to watch a UConn men’s basketball game. My best friend was there. So was my uncle. Had the roof collapsed during the game, all those people might have died.

Both the will of God, and his great mercy, were evident that day.

As with the Hartford Civic Center roof, so with the Coronavirus Pandemic. God does not will that bad things not happen. But he does will that through them good should be done.

Family Institute of Connecticut’s members are, I believe, better prepared–psychologically, emotionally, spiritually–to weather the present crisis than are many of our fellow Nutmeggers. For a few reasons.

First, because we worship “the Great I AM,” not “the Great Whatever.” That was, almost literally, how The Hartford Courant closed a front page Coronavirus story last Sunday, on what it thought was a reassuring note:

We are, almost overnight, a more serious country than that.

Those churches that you see on the main thoroughfare of almost any town in Connecticut? The ones that replaced the cross with a giant rainbow flag? Their congregants may be emptying out of those buildings very soon, on a search for The Real Thing. We need to be there for them when they do.

Second, because FIC members have been here before. An upheaval in our financial and political systems will be disorienting for all of us. But for the pro-family citizens of Connecticut, this is not our first rodeo.

In just the past few years, we have seen marriage redefined. Nuns told to provide abortion drugs. The White House bathed in rainbow colors. Biological boys competing against girls in girls high school sports. Drag Queen Story Hour for toddlers at public libraries. Celebrities publicly crediting their abortions for their material wealth. The Governor of Virginia openly defending the practice of babies, who survive an abortion, being left to die.

People who believe in traditional faith and morals already know what it is like to have society suddenly upended all around us. Our fellow Nutmeggers who erroneously thought themselves to be “on the right side of history” are likely to experience the current upheaval more acutely than us. We need to be there for them.

Through all this, FIC’s members have fought the good fight. We have kept the faith.

We will do so again. This time, in a crisis that binds us all together, even as the social distancing requires us to be separate.

Toward that end, I encourage you to dig deep into the spiritual resources available to us here in Connecticut during this time of trouble. Many of you from within our diverse coalition–Protestant, Catholic and Jewish–have been sending me these treasures, for which I am grateful.

See, for instance, Pastor Kevin of Wellspring Church in Kensington, CT on “adaptability.” His brief message warns that social distancing should not lead to spiritual disconnecting.

Or watch Fr. John Paul at St. Mary’s in New Haven ask “Is Coronavirus a result of our sins?” His answer is “Yes, but not perhaps in the way some people think.”

Or see this beautiful prayer that was sent to us by a congregant of a local synagogue.

We have been through a lot over the years, dear FIC family. We know that God has a purpose in all of it. And that is why we will get through this too. And we will be there for others.

Thank you for continuing to support FIC in these difficult times.