Church leaders preach prayer, private worship over public services

Published: Mar. 13, 2020 at 7:46 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Interfaith leaders said Friday they are following the advice of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and other lawmakers to suspend services for now until more is known about the coronavirus' impact.

“COVID-19 is different from any other former tragedy in that it spreads through crowds,” said Dr. Muhammad Babar, the Compassionate Louisville Chairman who also happens to be an Internal Medicine Specialist.

From Baptist churches to synagogues, multiple houses of worship are heeding coronavirus warnings. That includes the area’s largest church, Southeast Christian, which changed course Thursday and suspended services.

Southeast leaders asked members to instead worship by watching online. Babar said it's important to emphasize prevention over fear. He said the community must be informed and responsible.

Babar also said preserving and protecting human life is essential to every faith, taking precedence over worship.

“As a person of faith, I believe it’s our moral duty to consider the well-being of others,” Babar said.

Still, not every church leader is canceling yet.

“They can feel my spirit in conveying the information rather than just getting word about it,” said The Rev. Frank Smith Jr., of Christ’s Church for our Community.

Smith said he has one more service planned this weekend to be able to answer questions from his congregation. And as of Friday, The Archdiocese of Louisville has not canceled mass, but parishioners were asked not to come if they’re ill.

The archdiocese also has asked churches to suspend distribution of wine at communion and come up with other options for handshakes during the sign of the peace.

With many sports and entertainment events now canceled, faith leaders say now is the time to reflect on what’s important.

“We need to reach out to our neighbors and to our friends, to people we feel may need something,” said Dr. Jahangir Cyrus of the Bahai Faith.

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