Last week, I attended the very first service at Pursuit of God’s new facility on North Watkins in Frayser. Nearly 600 people attended, and the place was rocking with spirit.
I have no idea how many people were there yesterday (March 15), because I didn’t go. I can’t directly attribute that to the COVID 19 outbreak; sometimes, I just like to stay home and make breakfast for my family, maybe work in the garden.
Then again, I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that by definition, church is the exact type of “large gathering” that every health official and their momma is saying to stay clear of. Knowing how magnetic POG can be, I was wondering what the turnout was.
“We had a visiting church that first day, so we didn’t anticipate attendance being what it was,” said Pastor Rickey Floyd. “We had 300 today, 12 to join. So we’re still satisfied. That’s good momentum with all things being considered.”
That’s a direct contrast to the text message I got about my home church, Asbury United Methodist Church in Holly Springs. My aunt Nellie texted, saying that services had been canceled because of the outbreak. I thought small-town Mississippi might have a little more time before panic set in, but then again, much of Asbury’s membership also happens to be the most at-risk – seniors.
Many churches with the capabilities went ahead with services, giving people the chance to watch worship live on Facebook.
At Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, members were told to stay home but watch the services online. Pastor Rev. J. Lawrence Turner preached from Philippians 4, telling online viewers not to let fears around the outbreak get the best of them.
“Media coverage and reality of a global health crisis is overwhelming,” he said. “Brothers and sisters, it’s important to remember we cannot allow fear to dominate our thoughts and dictate our actions.”
Rev. Bartholomew Orr of Brown Missionary Baptist Church used the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den to preach about “Making it Through The Night,” – comparing the cloud of coronavirus to Daniel’s night in peril.
“It’s easy, when you’re going through the night in the Lion’s Den, to feel anxious and afraid,” Orr preached. “But here’s the good news. Daniel was not afraid. He was not alone. He was not abandoned. I believe Daniel can teach every one of us how to survive . . . even through the night.
“Well, Daniel how did you do it? How can we get through this night that we find ourselves in right now?” Orr said. “One word. Faithfulness.”
At the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, Bishop David Talley shared his hopes and prayers in a Friday post on the CDOM website:
“We are facing the fears of uncertainty, the stress of our loss of being able to plan ahead,” Talley wrote. “We are not in charge. We are not in control. We are tasting a kind of poverty, and that’s not a bad thing to experience, as we pray during Holy Lent pondering the call to metanoia–to conversion of heart.
“But for us, disciples of the Lord Jesus, members of His Body for West Tennessee, let’s take this uncertainty, this sense of chaos, this loss of control…this poverty…and turn again to the Lord, who has defeated the enemy of our human nature, the powers of sin and death. Let us turn to Him, our hope, who is our Way, our Truth, and Life itself (John 14.6;16.33).”