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Sanctuaries Close, But the Church Carries On

By Family policy alliance

This Sunday, many churches remained closed and a good number closed their doors for the first time.

Many have adapted through online services, email updates, and other blessings of technology. But for Christians across the country, Sunday simply wasn’t the same. Believers are asking, how should we think about mandated closures? And, if the church can’t meet, how can we serve?

Our team has gathered information and stories to give you the answers to just those questions—and to start the week with some good news.

How should we think about mandated closures?

First, it’s important we all do our part during this week to stop the spread of COVID-19 so that America can get back to work and life as soon as possible. For best practices to do your part, check out the federal “15 Days to Slow the Spread” guidance.

Second, we must respect the government’s legitimate authority, while also understanding its limitations. These extraordinary mandates are a response to extraordinary circumstances, and are designed to protect life and preserve medical resources to avert the sort of crisis facing places like Italy. As long as these restrictions are temporary and evenly-applied (e.g., they do not single out religious bodies), they may be reasonable. Our friends at First Liberty offered a few practical guidelines for churches here.

Finally, church leaders should check out COVID Church Aid. The website, just launched today, provides churches with resources to navigate COVID-19, from how to talk about the crisis with congregants to practical tips on livestreaming worship services. It also provides a variety of resources and opinions for those interested in funds available through the new CARES Act.

If the church can’t meet, how can we serve?

Ever since the early days of the Church, the Body of Christ has ministered to the world around it in dire circumstances – including many plagues. COVID-19 has been no different. Here are a few examples:

  • Providing food for the needy. Many individuals are finding themselves out of work, and children who depended on schools for meals are no longer in class. Churches are filling the gap. McLean Bible Church has enlisted its congregation to create care packages for the needy. Legacy Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico helped distribute 5,000 meals to homeless shelters. Colorado-based ministry YWAM Emerge donated 2,700 heads of lettuce to the community when they learned they would not be able to sell the produce which normally helps sustain their ministry.
  • Offering space and supplies to medical personnel. Due to hospital capacity issues and social distancing concerns, drive-through testing centers are an important way to test for COVID-19. But that kind of operation requires space – and once again, Christians have stepped in. Alabama Church of the Highlands used their parking lots as a center and tested almost 1,000 people in just two days. Another church in North Carolina found over 7,000 N95 masks in its emergency response supplies, and donated them to a local hospital.
  • Giving financial aid to those hurt by closures and support to local businesses. Economic downturn has created responses at all levels of government. In some cases, churches are readily equipped to be financial first-responders. Some have set up benevolence funds specifically to help those affected, while others are drawing on existing Deacons’ funds. Others have asked congregants to support one another’s small businesses as they are able. As Christians, we are called to bear one another’s burdens and this is an excellent chance to do that.
  • Running errands for neighbors. For those who are elderly or immunocompromised, leaving the house can be a scary and dangerous step during COVID-19. Churches around the nation – including many of our own churches – have asked healthy congregants to help by picking up groceries and running other essential errands for those most compromised.
  • Helping moms in need at Pregnancy Resource Centers. As the Left is pushing COVID-19 as a time and reason to have an abortion, Pregnancy Resource Centers are all the more important. They’re finding creative ways to continue offering services to moms in need. Some Louisiana centers are offering curbside delivery of supplies like diapers and wipes. They’re also offering counseling services over the phone due to COVID-19 concerns.
  • Offering spiritual and emotional support. Many churches are asking congregants to share any requests for prayer or encouragement during this challenging time. Churches including New Life Church in Colorado, and Calvary Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico are calling every congregant to check in. This is especially important for the elderly, who are particularly isolated. Calvary Church is doing this as part of a broader “Kindness Campaign” which includes meeting physical needs of the community. One Army couple in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas has taken it upon themselves to text individuals diagnosed with COVID-19. RightNow Media has made more resources available for Christians who are self-isolating.

Christians, be encouraged. The Church may face new circumstances, but Christ remains the same. This is a special time to bless our fellow congregants and those hurting in our communities. We are blessed to live in a country where we have the religious freedom to openly practice our faith and bless others in the name of Jesus. Times like this remind of us of why we at Family Policy Alliance work to defend this precious freedom.

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