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By Nehemiah D. Frank, founder and editor-in-chief
TULSA, Okla. — There are still too many Black people physically going to church on Sunday mornings during this pandemic. There are already disproportionate health disparities between Black and White Americans. So why are pastors across the nation still holding church services or having their entire praise and worship teams, choirs, and bands at the physical church building? Why are they putting their congregants as well as their own health in jeopardy?
I awoke Sunday morning, checked emails and scanned social media like I do every day. Being that it was the Lord’s Day, I came across a few church services, and to my surprise, saw too many people in the live streams clustered tightly together. By tightly together, I mean, more than ten people gathered in a single space while there is a killer virus that lurks around all communities, regards of ethnicity, seeking to wipe us out.
In times such as what we are experiencing now, we have to practice vigilance. If God has indeed given us spiritual discernment, we should use that better judgment and stop hosting services and live streams with ten or more people because it is not smart nor safe. It sends the wrong message to our already vulnerable Black community, vulnerable because of our disparities.
Churches that continue to hold services and live streams with more than ten or more gathered could potentially wipe out their churches’ elderly population. Their actions could indirectly lead to the death of a member with an underlying health condition.
If they believe that Jesus Christ is still on the throne, I highly doubt that Jesus told any pastor to disregard the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines about the vital need for Americans to practice social distancing.
“Pastors who are encouraging or allowing members to gather are irresponsible and putting their members in danger,” Reverend Marlin Lavanhar of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla. said.
Furthermore, I highly doubt that churchgoers are disinfecting doorknobs, microphones, water fountains, pews, every time they are used. I can’t see members spraying the air with Lysol every time a congregant sneezes or coughs. And church members should not have to take a risk while their fellow member tries convincing them that they have allergies and not the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Ultimately, the people are the church, so to expose them needlessly to danger and difficulty just doesn’t seem to be responsible,” Pastor Dr. Lance Watson of St. Pauls Baptist Church in Richmon, Va. said.
The safety and health of flocks across the nation fall squarely on each pastor that presides over them.