(GRAND RAPIDS) – In response to catastrophic capacity shortages in hospitals and health systems across the state, local churches across Grand Rapids and Kent County will further limit in person gatherings beginning Wednesday, Nov. 18, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Participating churches will discontinue large gatherings such as worship services, weddings, and meetings of more than five individuals until Dec. 8.
“Pastors have been moved by the pleas of front-line healthcare workers, as well as the ongoing suffering and loss of life of Kent County residents as a result of this virus,” said Rev. Khary Bridgewater on behalf of the Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force. “Our physicians and nurses are risking their lives, working double shifts, suffering through physical, mental, and emotional hardship to care for patients. We want to give them a fighting chance.”
According to Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, the president of Spectrum Health West Michigan, the region is at a critical point. “In the spring we were able to flatten the curve but now we are at a much higher point,” Elmouchi said. “I was recently asked if we were standing on top of a second peak but I am worried we are standing at the base of a mountain.”
“Our goal is to stand with our front-line medical workers and public health officials,” said Rev. Joe Jones, Grand Rapids 2nd Ward City Commissioner. “We need to do this for the brave men and women who provide life-saving health care, and we need to do this to ensure there is adequate hospital capacity to serve anyone who needs care for cancer, a heart attack, or any number of medical crises. This pandemic is having a devastating impact on our beloved community and the virus does not discriminate. It’s affecting all, regardless of zip code, race, socioeconomic status or age.”
The Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force has met weekly with leaders from the Kent County Health Department since the first documented case of COVID-19 in March. Since then, Task Force leaders have worked with the health department to reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19 in all segments of the community, preventing disparities prevalent in other geographic areas.
Participating churches will continue to serve members and the public through online worship sessions. In addition, by Dec. 1, select churches will begin administering wellness checks in their congregations and communities via phone, text and digital platforms.
“Worshipping in community takes many forms,” said Rev. Nathaniel Moody, pastor of Brown Hutcherson Ministries and Grand Rapids 3rd Ward City Commissioner. “Loving one another – caring for others – this is the primary call of the Gospel. Our deeds, not our words, are the greatest evidence of our faith. Today, staying safely at home is a stronger statement of faith. May God bring peace, healing and restoration to the land.”
The Church Task Force encourages residents to limit gatherings to members of their immediate household, wear masks in public, practice good hygiene, and continue social distancing to reduce COVID-19 transmission and save lives in our community.
Rev. Nathaniel Moody (Co-chair Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force) – Brown Hutcherson Ministries
Rev. Miguel A. Toro (Co-chair Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force) – Iglesia de Cristo Misionera
Rev. Jeff Manion (Co-chair Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force) – Ada Bible Church