Religious organizations and Christian health workers call for return to exclusively virtual services


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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A nationwide group of Christian healthcare workers and other faith groups is urging churches to return to online-only services as coronavirus numbers rise across the country.

Christian medical and dental associations published “A Plea for Our Churches” last week, stating in part: “CMDA is saddened to learn not only that many churches have ignored our guidelines, but that the faithful have been infected with it. SARS-CoV-2 as a result. “

The Oklahoma Conference of Churches, the Oklahoma Christian Church and the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference of the United Church of Christ are among the groups lobbying churches and pastors to stop services in nobody at the moment.

“I fully agree that if it is possible for congregations to meet online, they should do so and do so exclusively, particularly at this time and in Oklahoma in particular,” said Rev. Dr. Lori. Walke, senior pastor at Mayflower Congregational United Church. of Christ.

These appeals came at the same time as Tulsa’s Victor Church was gaining national attention after welcoming an auditorium crowded with worshipers singing with very few masks.

“We are a church,” said Victory Church pastor Paul Daugherty. “We are not going to reject people and push people out of the room just because they take off their masks.”

But CMDA’s letter makes it clear that they feel now is not the time to risk infecting others, writing: “As Christian health professionals, we will be voluntarily restricting our ‘freedoms’ for a while. time to help protect my neighbor.

“It has been very disheartening and disappointing, truly disappointing to see some of these major events,” said Walke, “but it is equally disappointing to hear of small congregations not following the advice of our medical and scientific communities. . “

Walke has been running exclusively virtual services since March. She said she expects more churches to revert to the attitude many had when the pandemic started when they moved meetings online.

The CMDA said the move was aimed at protecting the entire community, not just church members, writing: “Restricting the meeting for a season is not a fear of contracting the virus ourselves. Rather, it’s about loving each other and minimizing the risks to the vulnerable people around us. “

“We know what the scientists and our medical experts are saying and that’s to avoid large gatherings, and so that’s what our churches need to do,” Walke said. “But it’s even more than that. It’s about loving your neighbor, treating your neighbor as you would like to be treated, loving your neighbor as yourself, and therefore to that end, we wouldn’t want to put anyone at greater risk of COVID. than what we ourselves want. “

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Perry A. Thomasson