BOISE, Idaho — Central District Health on Tuesday night issued a public health advisory that recommends, among other things, that all religious gatherings in Ada, Elmore, Valley and Boise counties go fully online.
The board made the recommendation after Gov. Brad Little announced on Friday that Idaho was reverting back to Stage 2 of the Idaho Rebounds plan, but that new group size restrictions would not apply to places of worship.
“Place of worship should implement virtual services, and once again, I understand that not everyone would have access to the technology but generally they are in a large gathering, in close contact for a prolonged period of time,” CDH Director Russ Duke said during his presentation to the board Tuesday night.
Some religious leaders told KTVB that they miss in-person services but said that going virtual is the right thing to do right now as COVID-19 cases soar.
“We kind of had to turn and flip a switch and say how can we still be the church in new ways?” said Pastor Duane Anders of Cathedral of the Rockies. “The right thing right now is to be online only."
Pastor Duane encouraged all Christians to work on curbing in-person services and urged everyone to wear a mask and work together. The Cathedral of the Rockies is fully remote, with the exception of drive-in services on Sunday. Their last drive-in service with be Sunday, Nov. 22.
Unfortunately for many churches, going fully remote can present certain challenges.
“One of the things that is a big concern of ours is everyone is in a vulnerable population; we are concerned about them and about them feeling isolated and feeling all alone,” said Pastor Douglas Peake of Foothills Christian Church.
Pastor Douglas takes time to reach out to his church members directly by phone. He has asked all members to call or connect with at least five people every week during the pandemic.
Both Pastor Douglas and Pastor Duane said that church participation has increased during the pandemic, with people joining online church services from all over the country, and even some outside of the United States. They both noted that the church will never fully shut down because the people are the church.
“The word church means people who are called out we are the people called out by God, so the church can't ever be shut down or closed,” Pastor Douglas said.
Facts not fear: More on coronavirus
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