© 2024 WKNO FM
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Churches Must Find "Creative Ways" to Lift Spirits

Easter Stock Photos (Creative Commons)


Just ahead of Passover and Easter, Shelby County Health officials are trying to alleviate confusion over recent orders that allow places of worship to remain open while prohibiting gatherings of people.

Under the health department’s COVID-19 safety mandate, worship services are considered essential. But restrictions apply to congregations themselves: No more than 10 people can attend any gathering, and must remain at least six feet apart at all times, preferably wearing a mask. Many services have now been moved online. 

For Rev. Earle Fisher, head of Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church in Whitehaven, it's understandable that some faith leaders have struggled to embrace Internet services.

Nevertheless, he adds, it’s a necessary inconvenience.

“It’s still our primary order of business to ensure the safety of our congregants and parishioners,” he says.

The health department is still receiving public complaints about religious establishments not practicing social distancing. On Sunday, the department spoke with 16 churches that had been flagged to clarify what compliance looks like.

Health officer Bruce Randolph said non-confrontational outreach is preferable and effective.

“Oftentimes, it simply involves just some education and letting them know what we’re trying to achieve,” he said this week.

He approved of churches finding “creative ways” of holding services with fewer than ten people all separated. The city’s health directive also applies to funeral services and outdoor activities.

Given new data showing that the coronavirus is disproportionately affecting African Americans, Rev. Fisher says protecting communities of color begins with the church.

“I would hope that every congregation and every ministerial leader would understand that our responsibilities for ministry extend far beyond whatever worship service we could provide,” he says.

In that spirit, Fisher recognizes some congregants don’t have access to the Internet to stream services. Acts of ministry must include meeting needs in other ways, he says, such as through private phone calls and advocating for medical and economic resources.

“We not only need to flatten the curve of infection, but also need to flatten the curve of racial and economic injustice,” he says.