COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Impact on Communities of Faith

The COVID-19 Pandemic continuous to have a tremendous impact worldwide.  It may forever change how we interact with one another. While federal and state officials announce the reopening of various businesses, spiritual leaders are formalizing plans to ensure the safety of their parishioners. For most Believers, fellowshipping and worshipping in a church sanctuary is vital. While some spiritual leaders have long embraced spread the Gospel through social media and live platforms, others did not.  Regardless of their apprehensions, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused spiritual leadership to re-evaluate their positions regarding online ministry.

On May 22, 2020, President Trump declared “places of worship” essential then order each governor of every state to reopen them immediately.  This announcement caused the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to release interim guidelines for communities of faith.  While it is clear that CDC is not attempting to infringe upon our First Amendment rights, their recommendations will dramatically impact how we engage in worship.  The recommendations include the following:

  • Upholding social distancing
  • Promoting healthy hygiene practices
  • Cloth face coverings
  • An increased routine of intensified cleaning and disinfecting of places of worship and their ventilation systems
  • Minimize the use of shared Worship Materials
  • Additional guidelines for Nurseries in places of worship

All of these recommendations (with the exception of promoting healthy hygiene habits) are contrary to how parishioners interact with one another in church settings.  Spiritual leaders now have the task of identifying how to navigate worship services while adhering to CDC recommendations to ensure everyone’s safety. Let us consider some of the worship practices that may need to be modified.

  • Holy Communion: For those churches who do not purchase prepackaged communion wafers and juice, this may become a requirement. Instead of using cloth gloves, the disposable glove may be considered more hygienic.
  • Discontinued Use of Community Bibles and Hymnals: CDC discourages the use of shared Worship Materials.  Churches may be going to a BYOB/BYOH (Bring Your Own Bible/ Bring Your Hymnal).  Not every church is equipped to provide a projected displays of Scriptures or Hymnals to be viewed by congregants.
  • The ritual of “Laying on of Hands” which is both a symbolic and formal way of invoking the Holy Spirit during deliverance, baptisms, healings, and ordination services.  This is rite is considered vital in some denominations and is a Biblical practice.
  • “Love Time” encourages greeting one another usually hugging and/or kissing one another along with other gestures with your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Post-pandemic, we force to express love from afar and differently.
  • Baptism, a Christian rite symbolizing the regeneration and admission to the Christian Church, will need to be reviewed.  Most baptisms consist of immersion of the body in water whether that is a baptismal pool or a natural body of water.  Anti-bacterial agents may be required to be used in water for baptismal pools especially if there are multiple candidates for baptism.
  • Parishioners with underlining health issues, especially respiratory-related, may want to continue to “stay at home” for now.  The fumes from intensified cleaning and disinfecting along with maintaining face covering can prove to be challenging.
  • Sanctuary door ushers may be replaced with nurses using “no-touch” thermometers to greet parishioners and check for elevated temperatures along with identifying parishioners exhibiting symptoms. There are many who are asymptomatic and may not know that they are infected.
  • Upholding the 6” social distancing requirement will prove to be problematic in smaller places of worship.
  • For more charismatic denominations, sheets use to cover parishioners when “slain in the Spirit” will not be able to be reused on other parishioners.
  • The CDC has issued additional guidelines for places of worship with nurseries.

It may be wise for smaller local assemblies to maintain having services online due to the additional expenses.  If places of worship do not perform the tasks outlined by CDC they may be liable if their location became ground zero for an outbreak.  Our celebratory worship practices and how we engage with one another will need to change. Parishioners are now   challenged to express our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ differently and hopefully in more meaningful ways. While the CDC guidelines appear to go against every segment of our worship, there are some positives for us to consider. 

  • Worship services are no longer limited to a building.  The Universal Church is called to stand out. We are ordered via The Great Commission to spread the Gospel through all nations. Now that more local assemblies have started using online services there are more options available.
  • To me, the best part is that COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have not been able to suppress or stop people from accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
  • Refreshing transparency in ministry is unfolding.  Spiritual Leaders take to online platforms and have very open and transparent conversations about ministry and how to proceed forward post-pandemic.
  • Based upon the spiritual leaders that I have spoken with Tithes and Offering are up as a result of taking to an online platform.
  • Spiritual Leaders are forced to think of innovative ways to engage their congregation and explore alternative worship experiences. 
  • More people have been able to attend alternative services such as Bible Study from the comfort of their homes.
  • Due to the social distancing restrictions, it has given Christians to seek God through spiritual discipline for a refreshing and identify the next steps in ministry.
  • The pandemic has been for many a test of faith causing us to rely on the promises of God.

While I do not believe God caused the COVID-19 pandemic, I do believe that he has allowed it to become a wake-up call to the nations.   It is a test of our faith and an opportunity to draw closer to him.  As each state begins to relax stay at home orders, it is no surprise that there is increase in diagnosis and hospitalization due to COVID-19. 

Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence

First, I want to apologize to anyone who followed my blog.  I know that it has been a while since I posted anything.  While I enjoyed reviewing Christian content and doing Greenleaf Reviews, I was failing at doing the things that God assigned me to do.  I needed to re-evaluate the initial purpose of this site. My initial purpose was and still is to reach those who are marginalized in the Universal Church, encourage and inspire along with addressing taboo issues of the church.

Suddenly, I was in a whirlwind spiraling out of control.  I lost family, friends, property, and finances. I was living a real-life Job experience. I was exhausted and frustrated.  How can I be an encourager when I needed encouragement? I looked around to find that my support system was lacking. I didn’t have it with family, friends, or even my church. It is hard to articulate the loneliness I felt and at times I still feel. I sought the Lord through spiritual disciplines and encouraged myself in him.  There were times where I felt it difficult to breathe.

As we entered the year 2020, many spiritual leaders preached on the subject of 2020 Foresight or 2020 Vision.  This year as we are halfway through it has unearthed and revealed things that “prophets” did not foretell.  The negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued genocide against people of color through police brutality and other acts of violence have divided our nation. Like 2 Corinthians 4:8 (KJV), We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.” I went to the throne beseeching the Lord asking for help, clarity, healing, and deliverance.  It is all so overwhelming and there are no clear answers.  My solace was found in Psalm 23.

Penned by David, Psalm 23 reassures us of God’s love, provision, and comfort. David, being a shepherd himself, acknowledges the great lengths that it takes to care for a flock of sheep. He uses the analogy of a shepherd caring for his sheep to reveal El Shaddai (the All-Sufficient God). By the end of the chapter, David is assured that God’s grace and mercy will be upon him all the days of his life and even in death.

Psalm 23 is not new to me. I have read and recited this chapter countless times. I recently celebrated the 29th anniversary of my 21st birthday. Seeking solace from the current events and personal trials, I revisited that scripture and created the following summation.

Verse 1:     GDP (Global Distribution System): God will always provide. We will experience no lack of our needs.

Verse 2:     RSI (Restoration Services Insurance): God offers comfort and support by the way of green pastures available to all Believers. Green pastures contain the Word of Life, which is nourishment for the new man, milk for the babies, and pastures for sheep. In these pastures, there is peace of mind regardless of whatever trials we face. Our souls are at rest in Him. These green pastures are never barren, never parched, and never eaten bare. The still waters are streams that flow from the Living Waters fountain. They provide too many refreshing drinks when they are thirsty and weary.

Verse 3:     GPS (Global Positioning System): Feeding upon the goodness of God means that we will follow his direction. God provides predetermined right paths for us to follow so that we may reach our destiny. God leads us by his foresight, his Word, and by his Spirit. This means that we must follow the instructions provided to us through his Word, fasting, and prayer.  Even when we go astray, God can and will track us. We can always get back on track by humbling ourselves, repenting, and reforming.

Verse 4:     CPS (Child/Christian Protective Services): In times of imminent danger, God protects and comforts us.  The imminent danger can be a deep as the valley, as dark as the shadow, and under the perils of death. The comfort is that we are walking. We are not running in distress. There is no substantial evil in it because God is there to comfort us through his Spirit and his Word. We will have holy security and serenity of mind.

Verses 5-6: FOS (Fellowship of Services): Amid our calamities and attacks from our enemies, God will converse with us. During our communion with God, he will provide three things:

  • Spiritual nourishment (recommended daily dose of intake)
  • Two Types of Anointing
    • Anointing of Healing: recovery from illness, revive from faintness, restoration of our souls when we want to depart. 
    • Anointing of Designation: an appointment of rank with acknowledging and the recognition of a new level of operation in the Holy Spirit
  • An Overflowing Cup (an unlimited abundant supply of goodness and mercy. All the streams of mercy flowing from the fountain, pardoning mercy, protecting mercy, sustaining mercy, supplying mercy that will chase us down all the days of our lives.)
  • We are always welcomed by God all the days of our lives.

While we are still contending with the fallout from COVID-19, injustice in our nation and personal situations be encourage. God did not promise that we would be free from trials and tribulations, but he does promise to be with us providing comfort, security, and provision. As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”