NASHVILLE, Tn. (WKRN) – The World Health Organization named the COVID-19 a pandemic Wednesday, many conventions and concerts have been canceled, schools and businesses are also taking extra precautions, now add churches to the list.
“2 Timothy: God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind,” said Pastor Dale Robble of the Highland Park Church in Nashville.
When asked about the novel coronavirus, Pastor Robble points to scripture from the Christian bible.
“A spirit of fear does not come from God, what I see is people taking it to the extreme,” Robble said, “And I believe that ultimately, at the end of the day, what are we afraid of?”
Robble says his church will not be afraid and will continue to meet every Sunday.
“It seems like it’s a very serious thing, I think we all have to heed what we’re being told which is we certainly need to sanitize, wash our hands, if you’re sick- stay at home,” he said, “But you know one of my concerns is there’s this spirit of fear and panic that’s running through not only the world but certainly our Nashville community.”
The Diocese of Nashville is making changes, encouraging all ministers to stop traditional communion sharing and shaking hands in an “exchange of peace.”
That means no longer passing around a cup of wine, but instead only giving “bread” by hand, and not placing it on the tongue.
“In listening to what the public health officials are saying about this illness, it really does seem to affect people who are older who have weakened immune systems,” said Rick Musacchio, the director of communications, for the Diocese of Nashville, “Those folks should take extra precautions, they should feel confident in taking those precautions and know they are supported in doing that.”
Precautions these churches agree are necessary, but they say they’ll be holding service in-person until they’re told they can’t.
“Am I washing my hands and sanitizing, absolutely? Am I still going to the gym and public places? Absolutely, will we still have church here? Absolutely, until they say we can’t,” Robble said, “A lot of people say I don’t know what to do now other than pray, and I say the very first thing we should be doing is praying.
There are some churches that are suspending in-person meetings. Franklin First United Methodist Church announced their closures Wednesday.
If you attend a church, you may want to check announcement bulletins.