Point of View: The Church and COVID-19
Governor Pritzker announced his plans to reopen the state of Illinois at a press conference last week. This plan was developed with the help of Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. Two milestones in the plan are that 50 percent of the state’s adult residents are vaccinated and a steady drop in hospitalizations, mortality and infection rates during a 28-day surveillance period. After almost 18 months, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.
In a few years, it will be interesting to see how historians document this unique period in American history. Why was wearing a mask politicized? Why has the United States been so slow to respond to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic? As a Christian pastor who teaches Church history, I am curious about how historians will portray the American Christian Church. At the start of the pandemic, when precautions were taken, several sued the governor for violating their First Amendment right to meet. Many churches did not close, reduce capacity, or require masks to be worn during worship.
I have had a hard time deciding whether to suspend in-person worship for the congregation I serve. Suspending in-person worship was not a lack of faith, but an abundance of wisdom and love. The fearful scripture says, “The reverence of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Christianity is not about religion, it is about relationship. One of the greatest commandments given was to love our neighbor as you love yourself.
I fear that when history is written, too many churches will be on the wrong side of history. Wisdom and faith are not opposed; they work in partnership.
I’m Joe Mitchell and that’s my point of view.