Churches take wise approach to re-opening

Published 1:43 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2020

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Each day the Tennessee Department of Health gives a report on the number of new COVID-19 cases in the state, the number of deaths, and recoveries. Although the number is yet to go down like we had hoped, little by little the state is re-opening. During the last couple of weeks we have seen restaurants and other businesses partially open, even to beauty salons, barber shops, nail salons, and gyms. All were welcomed moves.
This weekend some churches opened in the area, many at half capacity. Some are still streaming their services live over the Internet. Others are having church in the parking lot, and one church, Grace Baptist, has been having a worship service at the Stateline Drive-In.
It is all right for pastors to take a cautious approach to the prospect of reopening their churches for worship services.
The time will come, and hopefully, soon when we can gather together to worship again, to fellowship, to shake hands and give each other a friendly hug.
It would be wonderful for the congregations in Elizabethton and Carter County to be able to gather and worship together. But, we aren’t there just yet. The same goes for family gatherings and team sports.
There have been 18 cases of coronavirus reported in Carter County. More testing is being made available and as things re-open, we can expect more community spread of the coronavirus in our area. We are still being told to wear a face mask whenever we go to the store, to the doctor’s office, or in public. Stay at least 6 feet away from other people. Don’t go out anymore than you have to.
These are things that go against worshipping and fellowshipping with each other. At some point in time, we must make the decision as when our faith will overrule our fear. When we will not be afraid to sit down in church by another worshipper, when we will not be able to greet a friend with a handshake, or offer a hug to a hurting friend.
Life was not designed to be lived like we have been living it for the past few weeks. We were created to have fellowship with one another, to love and laugh — and even cry — together.
There are some that have demonstrated for re-opening of our country. They’re saying, “If you’re scared, just don’t go out.”
Followers of Jesus should never, ever say such things. Or share such things. Or “like” such things on Facebook.
Nor should we refer to those who advocate reopening as “idiotic” or “reckless.” The economic toll of this pandemic is real, and it will affect millions of lives for months and maybe even years to come. We all need to practice compassion.
Churches, like businesses, are taking a financial hit with the decision to stay closed. But, expenses are down with the church buildings being closed. Some churches have savings they can lean on as well as donations that are still coming in.
We must remember that the church is not the building, but it is the individual members. Our faith can still be at work even through we cannot meet together in person, and our work is outside the walls of the church — doing and caring for one another, praying for one another.
Even when we can’t be together, we must believe and know that God still cares, and He is watching over His people. Hopefully, soon we can once again say: See you in church Sunday!

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