“Don’t Tap Your Neighbor:” Black Faith Leaders Respond to Coronavirus Crisis

Mar 18, 2020 | Community, Covid-19

Aldon Thomas StilesCalifornia Black Media  

Many faith-based organizations are encouraging their members to follow public health guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

As COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus disease, sweeps the nation, many institutions that rely on groups meeting in large numbers have been forced to consider alternatives.

In his executive order issued last week, Gov. Newsom issued guidance that prohibits more than 250 people from gathering in a common space.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also issued an executive order on March 16 that closed establishments such as bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in the “City of Angels.” However, the order did not specify worship centers.

Leaders of some faith-based communities remain confident that they will continue servicing the needs of their parishioners during this current crisis.

“The doors to the church are always open — even in light of the coronavirus disease. Therefore, the doors of our church will remain open,” Pastor Mary S. Minor stated in a letter to the members of Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church. “We will practice every recommended precaution offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,”

Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. of the Church of God in Christ, Inc. stated that along with prayer, the Church of God in Christ will comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines as well, but will not suspend services.

“Additionally, when assembled for church services or group gatherings, please refrain from asking congregants to shake hands with or hug their neighbor,” Blake said. “We are asking each of our more than 10,000 congregations to aggressively monitor the epidemic as it develops and take all necessary and recommended measures provided by the CDC.”

Rev. Shane Harris, founder of the People’s Alliance for Justice, announced that his organization launched a “task force” consisting of “a network of a hundred clergy of mid-range congregations from across the United States to address the virus and its spread and to provide a faith-based network to address the concerns among public health agencies.”

With 3,000 positive Coronavirus cases nationwide and 335 positive cases in California, these precautions have steadily become more commonplace.

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