A founding principal of the Security Leaders Coalition is to be a light shining the way for houses of worship to protect their flock from danger. When most of us contemplate danger, we think of someone trying to harm those we are called to protect. However, today we face a new danger, a danger that harms with a touch, a handshake, a hug. A microscopic threat that can and has killed many. This may be the first time in our lives that we’ve faced a threat so small we can’t even see it and we face it during Holy Week.
In the Christian faith Holy Week is filled with powerful symbolism of the sacrifice God made for us and the victory that sacrifice won. We normally remember that sacrifice and celebrate the victory together as a family, God’s family. Instead we face a question, what are we willing to sacrifice? Do we sacrifice our Easter Sunday Service and follow the directives of our government and stay home?
The SLC believes the direction in Romans 13:1-3 should inform that decision:
Rom 13:1. Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3. For governors are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same.
With that foundation the SLC believes the appropriate position is to encourage people to stay home and worship in whatever capacity is available, even if this means worshiping with your immediate family or just praying by yourself.
We have a constitutionally protected right to assemble even though our government has asked us to refrain. We should sacrifice it and put the health and well-being of our congregants first. Gathering in close proximity greatly increases the potential to spread COVID-19.
No house of worship should be known as the place where COVID-19 was allowed to spread freely.
During times of crisis, God’s Family should be reaching out to serve and help those who are hurting in our communities. We are ineffective if we’re sick with the virus.
The world is watching. Those who are not affiliated with a house of worship understand the reasoning for “social distancing” and most are practicing it. In times like this, houses of worship need to be leading the way, setting the example, not trying to make a statement.
If houses of worship choose to meet, they will likely be perceived as defiant and reckless as well as part of the problem and not a people with a solution.
Lastly, we don’t know what the ultimate outcome of this event will be, none of us have ever seen anything like it. We can however, take comfort in what God said in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We would like to encourage any HOW leader who is considering bringing your congregation together for Holy Week, make a sacrifice. God looks favorably upon those who consider others first.