The Massachusetts Council of Churches is not real happy with Gov. Baker's decision to let churches re-open immediately, even with some limitations, despite evidence they have sometimes turned into breeding grounds for coronavirus.
In a statement today, the group, which represents a variety of Protestant and Orthodox churches in the state, says:
Churches are designed to be places of healing, not sources of sickness. We receive these new minimum safety standards from the state with much concern for those people most at-risk in our churches and our communities.
Many Christians will remain in prayer and praise from home at this time. To those Christians that do decide to return now to their buildings, we advise all to act with extreme caution during this pandemic. ...
Just because congregations may return to their buildings does not mean they should. " 'All things are lawful for me', but not all things are beneficial." St. Paul wrote to the divided Church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 6:12).
Noting that some denominations have already said their church buildings will remain closed until July - or even next year - the council said it will soon issue its own guidance for participating churches.
The state’s new minimum safety standards for reentry to houses of worship raise many questions and concerns for the clergy and lay leadership across the network of the Massachusetts Council of Churches. ...
As we said previously to the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board, any just response to the pandemic must prioritize care and resourcing of the communities hardest hit during the pandemic, especially churches in Black, immigrant and unhoused communities that often serve as multi-service centers in addition to spiritual homes. We remain deeply distressed by the lack of comprehensive testing in communities of color, unequal access to care and resources, the financial and logistical burden on churches to provide masks and cleaning supplies, and the decision fatigue of so many church leaders already overwhelmed.
While much of the response to “reopening” has focused on the economy, we want to remind people of goodwill that the word “economy” comes from the Greek "οικονομία" oikonomía - the whole household of God. To care for the whole household of God means prioritizing not just the care of the fit and healthy, but of the sick and the lonely, the very old and very young. To care for the whole household of God means prioritizing the care of those most impacted. We have yet to see this prioritizing from our national and state leadership. We expect the Church to behave differently.