KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The most sacred week on the Christian calendar is nearly here.
Churches across the world are left with tough Easter season decisions, as the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide. Christians probably never imagined in-person Palm Sunday and Easter services would be canceled as a precaution.
When public officials in Missouri and Kansas banned public gatherings, that included church services, even the Holy Week meetings that begin this weekend with Palm Sunday.
“It’s all about community spread,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said.
Lucas explained churches aren’t exempt from the ban on gatherings of 10 or more.
He said he’s held conference calls with pastors from several metro Baptist churches, reminding them in-person church services aren’t smart right now.
“I appreciate that almost every pastor we talked to said, ‘We understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. We want to make sure all our parishioners are safe,’” Lucas said.
This week, churches in Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Northern California saw worshipers become ill after holding in-person services, defying public health warnings about doing so.
“It’s better to stay in. You stay home. You stay safe and sheltered, and that’s what we have to do to get through this crisis and get through this moment,” Lucas added.
As part of those teleconferences, pastors traded ideas about holding church services on social media, teaching each other about technology.
That included Lucas’ own preacher, Pastor Ron Lindsay from Concord Fortress of Hope Church, who said the threat of COVID-19 makes in-person Holy Week services impossible.
“We did know the world was changing,” Lindsay said.
Linsday, whose church already has a strong social media presence, said his Facebook service will offer online communion, instructing worshipers that whatever elements they have on hand will be blessed.
“In this moment, it’s not advantageous. It’s not the wise thing to do,” Lindsay said. “Sacredness is always connected to intimacy. To create new streams of intimacy becomes really valuable.”
Lucas’ citywide stay-at-home order remains in effect. Violators can be issued a citation or, if it applies, they can be told to stop operating their non-essential business until the ban is lifted.