All across the nation, stores, restaurants, offices and more are closing down to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. The national recommendation is to reduce gatherings to 10 or less people including churches. Plus, even some local governments are restricting that. But one Baton Rouge Pastor, Tony Spell, doesn’t think that churches should be restricted to gathering together–no matter what the number.
“We feel we are being persecuted for the faith by being told to close our doors,” said Spell, who told The Washington Post. He still had his Life Tabernacle Church going with more than 300 people worshiping.
His congregation was visited by officers who said the National Guard would be coming to their next service if the church didn’t comply with the governor’s ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, Spell said he was told.
“There is a real virus, but we’re not closing Planned Parenthood, where babies are being murdered,” he said. “If they close those doors today, we’d save more lives than will be taken by the coronavirus.”
Spell quoted scripture that calls for gathering — Hebrews 10:25, Matthew 18:20.
But Matthew 18:20 reads as so – “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” There is no mention that says you have to have a large congregation in order to “feel the spirit” or have “the presence of Jesus.”
And Hebrews 10:25 reads, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
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Once again, it doesn’t depict having to have a large congregation or meeting hall in order to spread the gospel. As a matter of fact, wasn’t it Jesus who only had 12 disciples? But I digress.
“We’re a Pentecostal denomination, and when we gather and pray the Holy Ghost comes in the midst. There are healings, signs, wonders, some things done together in the church that can’t be done in a live stream,” he said.
So, are we to think that God, the one who is all powerful, omnipresent and omniscient cannot change lives through the internet? Does he truly believe that the internet can stop the love, spirit and power of Jesus Christ? Sorry, once again, I digress.
Meanwhile, around the globe, a major evangelical church in Brazil has won a court battle to remain open despite warnings that large gatherings will help spread the coronavirus.
The ruling came days after a prominent bishop from another evangelical church told followers not to worry about the pandemic because the devil was trying to create fear.
Religious leaders around the world have closed places of worship to help slow the spread of the virus, but many evangelical and Catholic churches remain open in Brazil, where seven people have died from COVID-19 and there are 654 confirmed cases.
Even before the court ruling, Pastor Silas Malafia,… head of the Assembly of God Victory in Christ church said his church would stay open.
“If everything closes, there will be a little door open in my church and I will be there,” Malafia said in a video on Thursday.
Bolsonaro, who recently dismissed coronavirus as a media “fantasy”, has provoked widespread condemnation by defying medical advice and making public appearances with crowds of supporters.
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“We have to reduce the circulation of people – and even more so in closed environments – to reduce the spread of the virus,” said Ralycon Teixeira, an infectious diseases specialist at São Paulo’s Emílio Ribas hospital.
So what do you think? Should churches stay open or close during this pandemic?