Spitirual Leaders Making Tough Choices About Gatherings

As the coronavirus was spreading in Washington state in early March, leaders of the Skagit Valley Choir debated whether to go ahead with weekly rehearsal. Skagit County hadn’t reported any cases, schools and businesses remained open, and prohibitions on large gatherings had yet to be announced.

On March 6, the choir director informed the 121 members in an email that choir practice would proceed as scheduled at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church. Sixty singers showed up. The church provided hand sanitizers, and choir members refrained from handshakes.

Nearly three weeks later, 45 were diagnosed with the coronavirus or with the symptoms, at least three have been hospitalized, and two are dead. WGRT spoke with Dr. Thomas Seppo from Operation Transformation, our local coordinating organization for area churches. Dr. Seppo told WGRT, “Local pastors should be wise spiritual leaders and carefully follow the instructions of our government officials.”

The majority of churches in our area are refraining from holding public gatherings at this time. Leaders feel that their faith traditions have set precedents for obeying authority in matters concerning public safety. Many have seen the positive side of this decision already as congregants are being more proactive about reaching out to one another and are taking advantage of online options for teaching and prayer.

Reporting for WGRT – Marty Doorn