Worship in the Face of the Coronavirus

Dean Phelps, Interim Regional Minister

During a press conference this morning, Governor Beshear offered several recommendations to Kentuckians in an effort to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus. Among the recommendations was a suggestion that churches cancel worship services this weekend. He left open the possibility of repeating that suggestion next weekend.

We are aware that both Disciples congregations in Harrison County, Republican Christian Church and Cynthiana Christian Church, cancelled services this past Sunday. In the governor’s words, cancelling worship services is a big step, and I recommend that pastors and church leaders approach the decision prayerfully and compassionately.

Each congregation has to make this decision on their own, but here are a few things to consider.

  • If you decide to continue with worship services, encourage the most at-risk people in your congregation to stay at home. That includes people over 60, people with heart, kidney, or lung disease, and those with chronic respiratory conditions. This alone may be enough to tip the scale toward cancelling your service.
  • Consider those in your congregation who, regardless of health conditions, feel like they have to be present if the church doors are open. Cancelling service this weekend may be the best way to offer them protection.
  • If you decide to continue with worship services, give extra care to how you prepare and serve communion. Sanitize all surfaces thoroughly, especially the surface of the communion table and the communion preparation area. Persons preparing communion should use nitrile or other gloves. Dispose of the gloves immediately after use.
  • Make sure you have hand sanitizer and wipes available.

Whether you cancel services or not, be creative in imagining ways to stay connected with those who will not be present. Although we are making our best effort to approach the situation in a well-informed manner, the appearance and spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky has created anxiety. In addition to the anxiety, some people may be temporarily isolated in their homes. Whatever ways we can find to be present with one another will help calm our fears and encourage us to rest securely in our faith.

If you cancel services, let us know. We would like to share that information on our web site. If you will be worshipping and have worship available as a live stream, let us know that as well.

As the governor said, this is a big step. I trust the pastors and church leaders in the Region to take whatever action is best for the health and safety both of those who share in the life of our congregations and of the communities we are called to serve. This could include making the difficult decision to cancel services this weekend.

I trust our governor and know him to be a man of faith. I feel certain that he did not come to his recommendation lightly and that he believes the move to cancel gatherings such as worship services at this time to be in the best interest of the health and safety of all Kentuckians.

At kycovid19.ky.gov, you can stay informed about the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky and about recommended precautions. Resources are also available through the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

As the church, we are called to be communities of faith, of welcome, and of healing. By responding to the Coronavirus and COVID-19 in an informed and compassionate manner, we fulfill our calling.

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