To the editor,
COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of life, including our faith. This season has caused us to be more creative and rethink how we do everything in order to protect ourselves and our community. These are unprecedented times for all of us.
I encourage area pastors and leaders to be extremely cautious about rushing to have traditional church. You must continue to be faithful, without fear, while using Godly wisdom. Your actions should be motivated by love and faith, and not by fear.
As a physician that has dedicated my career to this community for the last 22 years and a believer in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I implore the faith-based community to be considerate of the health and safety of others as well as yourselves. Scientific research is a tool of wisdom, not the enemy of faith.
People in our community are still dying from COVID-19. I have personally lost at least three patients. I grieve with the families of all those who have lost loved ones due to this dreaded virus. We all need to do our part to keep our community as safe as possible and do so without compromising our call to ministry. The safety of our community should be a part of that ministry.
The following are suggestions to consider:
— Consult local health officials for guidance on safety and information on the degree of community spread in your area;
— Consider the elderly and the vulnerable, who may feel torn between attending out of obligation and their own personal health if the church doors open;
— Consider whether your facility can accommodate a worship gathering, while still practicing social distancing;
— Consider multiple options for worship, including two or three worship services, to cut down on how many people are in the building at one time;
— Provide multiple stations for hand sanitizer;
— Consider temperature checks;
— Require face coverings be worn during church gatherings and provide them for those who may not have one.
True leadership is tested in times of crisis. My prayer during this season is that we all do as the Lord requires of us in Micah 6:8 to do justly, love mercifully and walk humbly before God.
Robin Peace, MD
Southeastern Health medical staff president