Thursday, April 2, 2020
Banning worship. . .
I remain convinced that the Church is better situated to provide safe gatherings with the requisite number limitations, sanitizer availability, and social distancing that most retail spaces. If we feel safe in the supermarket or home centers of our communities, we should at least feel safe within the boundaries of churches. Attendance will undoubtedly be lower than before this pandemic began and yet the spaces allow for more than the recommended social distancing in pews and at the rail. Is it really more dangerous to attend worship than it is to stand in line or meet strangers down the aisles of our retail spaces -- still allowed and deemed a necessity?
The media and some overzealous politicians have made it appear that it is reckless and unreasonable to assemble for worship even within the guidelines of the CDC. It is a stretch of the imagination to give this credibility in light of the fact that we are told it is safe to shop for necessities in our local retail outlets. We are not putting people at greater risk in the church.
Sure, there are goofballs and crackpots on both sides. Those with their doomsday scenarios in which life as we know it is over and those who insist there is no danger at all. But in the reasonable center also are heard the voices of calm who urge us to do what we can and must to be safe for ourselves and our neighbors. Wash hands (20 seconds with good soap), use sanitizer as a back up (but there is no need to slather it all over), keep a distance of at least 3 and better 6 feet between you and those outside your household, and seek medical care if you have symptoms of a COVID 19 infection. Even within these parameters, it is safer to add more services than to suggest home or lay communions or to presume that live streaming an empty church is the same as being there.
I am with Bishop Schneider in this. We can keep the churches open and we can be safe. It will require more effort on our part but if that is what we must do, then we must do it.