ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The head pastor of a church in Rockford said his house of worship is linked to the spread of coronavirus, so he’s taking his message online.
“This hasn’t happened before,” Doug Bergsma, founding pastor of City Church Rockford, said.
In a video post to the church’s Facebook page, Bergsma announced he is canceling in-person service after some of his congregants contracted the virus. His staff also posted a sign on the church door that told members to worship virtually.
“A number of our members, including some key volunteers, have tested positive,” Bergsma said in the video. “A good number of other people were exposed and thereby are also in question.”
Bergsma said he will have the entire building cleaned.
“We need to be responsible with our church family and with the community,” he said.
News 8 asked the pastor how many people tied to the church are infected and where the outbreak started, but he didn’t respond.
Meanwhile, the Kent County Health Department said it has seen increases in cases among people who attend in-person church services. The department did not name any specific church.
“In the past few weeks, we’ve had somewhere like 12 to 20 in some individuals who’ve reported gathering at a church service,” said Brian Hartl, epidemiology supervisor for the Kent County Health Department. “We’re continuing to assess.”
Though health leaders said they aren’t advocating for large gatherings, they want the community to practice their faith as long as they worship wisely.
“We want people to do it in a way that limits the close contact and limits the potential for COVID-19 in those settings,” Hartl said.
The Kent County Health Department praised Bergsma’s move to stream his sermons and reminded families to continue adapting to change.
“We’ll get ahead of this little bump here and get a fresh start,” Bergsma said.