GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Faith leaders from across Kent County signed a pledge Wednesday to help fight the spread of COVID-19 by pausing in-person worship services for at least the next three weeks.
More than 60 churches and other places of worship ended in-person worship months ago, but this pledge is aimed at making a public statement: that the faith community supports frontline health care workers during this difficult time.
“It’s not a retreat from faith, but it’s an advancement of faith by taking these precautions,” said Rev. Khary Bridgewater, the coordinator for the Kent County COVID Church Task.
The group was formed in March, following the first COVID-19 case in Kent County.
“Sometimes we make choices that are uncomfortable for us, but are better for others,” Bridgewater said.
Bridgewater says this decision to worship together while physically apart was motivated by the latest spike in corionavirus numbers that set new records. The decision also came with a plea from the president of Spectrum Health, West Michigan’s largest health care provider. The president told the public that our region is at a critical point in the fight against COVID-19 and asked everyone to help.
The Kent County Health Department is supporting the decision, saying it “recognizes that houses of worship and faith communities are essential to the well-being of our community. However, in-person religious gatherings, not unlike other large gatherings, have been associated with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kent County.”
“It should be a simpler decision that it seems to be for many,” said Pastor Ron Radcliffe with City Chapel.
Radcliffe and other leaders say sometimes faith is not what you do, but what you don’t do.
“As Christians we are called to love our neighbors, and the weird thing during this time, the best way to love our neighbors is not to see them until this thing has passed,” Radcliffe said.
Places of worship are still holding services and coffee hours digitally. Some churches will also conduct wellness checks on their communities via phone, text and digital platforms.
“Because the doors are closed, doesn’t mean the churches are closed,” Bridgewater said.
Below are the 61 leaders who have pledged:
- Rev. Nathaniel Moody, co-chair Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force, of Brown Hutcherson Ministries
- Rev. Miguel A. Toro, co-chair Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force, of Iglesia de Cristo Misionera
- Rev. Jeff Manion, co-chair Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force, of Ada Bible Church
- Rev. Miguel Abreu of Iglesia de Cristo Misionera
- Rev. Carlos Aranguiz of Iglesia Belem Grand Rapids
- Rev. Joy Bonnema of Madison Square Church (North Campus)
- Rev. Perfecto Brown of The New Breed Church
- Rev. Suzan Brown of The New Breed Church
- Rev. Dr. Ron Carter of King’s Bible Church
- Rev. Kevin Crisostomo of Iglesia Cristo Misionera
- Rev. Robert Dean of New Life COGIC
- Rev. Darrell Delaney of Madison Square Church (Square Campus)
- Rev. Dr. Howard C. Earle, Jr. of New Hope Baptist Church
- Rev. Troy A. Evans of The EDGE Urban Fellowship
- Rev. Juan F. Flores of Belen Casa del Pan
- Rev. Dr. Eula C. Gaddis, Jr. of Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church
- Rev. Dr. Willie A. Gholston II of First Community AME Church
- Rev. Adam Green of New Dimensions Victory Center Church of God in Christ
- Rev. Dwight Gutridge of St. Luke AME Zion
- Rev. Julian Guzman of Iglesia Vida Plena
- Rev. Dr. Timothy Mark Harris of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church
- Rev. Severino Hernandez of Iglesia Fuente de Vida
- Rev. Dr. Kenneth W. Hoskins of Alpha Omega Ministries COGIC
- Rev. Michelle Jackson of Church Builders Bible Training Center
- Rev. Jay Jones of The Pentecostals of Kentwood
- Rev. Joe Jones of Brown Hutcherson Ministries
- Rev. Dr. Kizombo L. Kalumbula, Jr. of Tabernacle Community Church
- Rev. Brad Knetsch of Madison Square Church (Franklin Campus)
- Rev. Dallas Lenear of Journey Church Grand Rapids
- Rev. Thea Leunk of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church
- Rev. Nygil B. Likely of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church
- Rev. Artie M. Lindsay, Sr. of Tabernacle Community Church
- Rev. Marcus Little of Berean Baptist Church
- Rev. Ernestine Lockett of Bread of the World Church
- Rev. Deborah McCreary of Eastminster Presbyterian Church
- Rev. Sandra McGlothin of Women of Faith Ministries
- Bishop Dennis McMurray of Renaissance Church of God in Christ
- Rev. Jorge Morales of Iglesia Casa de Oración
- Rev. John Mondi of African Community Fellowship
- Rev. Daniel Oglesby of Living Word Christian Center
- Rev. Carl A. Pace, Jr. of True Light Baptist Church
- Rev. Daniel Parker of Kingdom Life Ministries
- Rev. M. Wayne Peters of 4 Fires Ministries
- Rev. J.R. Pittman of Ignite Fellowship Church
- Rev. Anna Radcliffe of City Chapel Grand Rapids
- Rev. Ron Radcliffe of City Chapel Grand Rapids
- Rev. David Reynoso of Iglesia Sanando las Naciones
- Rev. Isaura Rivas of Mt. Zion Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Rev. José Luis Rivas of Iglesia Cada de mi Padre
- Rev. Jose Riveron of Iglesia Bautista Reconciliacíon
- Rev. Leatha Roberts of Changing Point Church
- Rev. Robert Roberts of Changing Point Church
- Rev. Charlie Selmon, Jr. of Wellspring Church of Grand Rapids
- Rev. Raycheen Sims of Dream Builders International Church
- Rev. Robert Sims of Dream Builders International Church
- Rev. Dr. James C. Stokes of New Life Tabernacle COGIC
- Rev. Leroy Tolbert of Macedonia Baptist Church
- Rev. Robert Trice of Relevant Church Grand Rapids
- Rev. Willie E. Waver II of No Greater Love Ministries
- Rev. Theda Fields White of Pinnacle Crest Ministries
- Rev. Tim Wilson of South Harbor Church