Many congregants received pastoral letters outlining worship etiquette in light of the increase in coronavirus or COVID-19 cases across the nation.
The messages reiterate the guidelines that medical professionals have recommended to protect public health. The recommendations include frequent hand washing, using hand sanitizers, remaining home if sick and consulting your doctor if experiencing flu-like symptoms.
“We are prayerfully providing the guidelines for consideration as a church family. We believe these guidelines will allow us to collectively and individually prepare appropriately,” wrote Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. in an email to the West Angeles Church of God in Christ membership.
“The doors to the church are always open – even in light of the coronavirus disease. Therefore, the doors of our church will remain open. We will practice every recommended precaution offered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Pastor Mary S. Minor in a letter to the members of Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church.
Considering that many worship services contain greeting periods where parishioners hug and shake hands, faith leaders have asked members to employ alternative ways to welcome others.
Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, pastor of Faith Central Bible Church, advised, “We will refrain from asking congregants to shake hands, high-five, or hug your neighbor. Instead, we will simply say hello or do an elbow bump!”
Pastor John E. Cager III, pastor of Ward AME Church, encouraged the congregation to avoid bringing items to the altar during Communion, such as phones or papers. He requested to members, “Leave newsletters, etc., in your seat. Put your phone in your pocket or purse. If you have no one to watch your purse, please hand it to the usher at the head of the aisle when you come to the altar and retrieve it after you take the sacrament.”
All of the clergy asked for prayers of recovery for those affected by the virus as well as healthcare workers and other professionals that Blake described as being “on the front lines of this unexpected battle.”
According to Ulmer, the workers “are tasked with a serious responsibility, one that is very close to the heart of Jesus.”
Reminding believers that God is in control, Blake said, “We believe God is our healer and our keeper, and we will continue to put our trust in Him. I am confident in this: we will live and see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living as we fulfill His purpose in the earth realm.”
Minor noted, “Our God is able to protect us, but we must use wisdom! Wisdom teaches knowledge how to behave. I plead the blood of Jesus over all of you. By His stripes, we are healed.”
Ulmer added, “There has never been a storm that did not end—and this too shall pass. I am confident in this, that all of us, members of the body of Christ, will care for one another.”
For a list of preventive coronavirus actions, visit CDC.gov.