Several churches and synagogues have decided to close their doors for services, in the sake of protecting congregants from the novel coronavirus.
Alabama’s Episcopal bishop has instructed the denomination’s 90 parishes, boasting 32,000 congregants, to cancel all gatherings, including funerals, for the remainder of the month. In an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus, other large churches in the state have also taken to holding services virtually, For example, this Sunday, Church of the Highlands is also only holding online services.
At Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, they held their first Friday night Shabbat services online only. Temple President Dr. Al Cohn said they have a congregant who is an infectious disease specialist and were highly advised to not hold services.
“We just want to be on the right side of history with it. I think the last thing we’re looking to do is feel like we had done something sooner to protect someone so it feels if you were going to lean one way or the other, the leaning in direction of abundance of caution just feels like the right way to lean and we’ll just take it day by day. ” said Dr. Cohn.
In a video released online, Senior Pastor Chris Hodges said, “we waited until the last moment because things were changing so fast, but we know we made the right decision, so on Sunday, March 15, we’ll have a fabulous online experience with worship, and then I’ll lead in a powerful time of prayer,” said Hodges.
Trinity United Methodist Church is also shutting its doors and holding services online only.
“As important it is to go to church, I want to think about what it means to be the church in the season and that’s two things. One, don’t be afraid and two, don’t be selfish. We don’t want to give into the fear so we don’t want to be become overwhelmed by panic and anxiety around the novel coronavirus but also what does it mean to consider how our actions are going to impact others,” said Senior Pastor Brian Erickson at Trinity UMC.
The state health department is discouraging gatherings of 500 people or more.