Letter to editor: 

As a Christian, I am disturbed about the decline in church attendance due to COVID-19.  At first, most of us were convinced we were at great risk of severe illness and death and that to safeguard everyone’s health, we should not assemble. Now, seven months later, most people have realized that we have to be cautious but go on with work, school, shopping, family activities and life in general.  Yet, many church members,  who are not in extreme high-risk groups and don’t regularly associate with elderly or vulnerable family members, remain fearful of returning to church services.

We have been taught through the years that we should be more concerned about the soul rather than the physical body (Matthew 10:28).  Yet, a virus that we now realize carries a very small risk of death has kept many from attending services even though most church leaders have gone to great lengths to make it safe to assemble. We have also been greatly restricted in carrying out God’s instruction to care for the sick and elderly, assist the homeless, show hospitality, teach Bible classes, and other forms of evangelism. The church 

is still responsible to God to do these things though we may have to step out of the box and be creative. 

The secular progressives have tried for many years to weaken the churches’ influence on society.  Church membership has declined in recent years so their strategy is working. I don’t believe COVID-19 is some vast conspiracy, but it is being used to further various political agendas and ideologies.  We never thought Christians would be persecuted in America, but there have been numerous cases in recent years.  It is possible we could someday be forbidden to attend services or own a Bible.  We may be forced to choose to stand up for Christ or face fines, imprisonment, or other consequences.  If this virus scare is any indication of how easily Christians are going to cave in, some will be like Peter who denied Jesus immediately after insisting he would never do so.

The church assemblies are where we meet to worship, encourage, uplift and learn from one another and provide a place to go for those seeking spiritual help.  We are instructed in the Bible not to forsake the assemblies.  Christ loved the church and purchased the church with His own blood—that’s how important it was! It is a vital part of a child’s spiritual education.  

Though children can and should be taught the Bible at home, the church provides positive role models, gifted teachers, and wholesome activities.  It is also where children and adults mature spiritually and learn leadership skills by putting what they learn into practice.  The churches are not only the moral and spiritual backbone of our society, but tremendous sources of benevolence and help to those less fortunate.  The connection with one another is just as important, or more so, than listening to a sermon.

Christians should be supporting and building up the church in these troubling times, rather than participating in its decline.  Pray for God’s protection, use necessary precautions, but obey God rather the government and the media. Although they may be concerned for your physical well-being, they have little concern for your spiritual well-being and your eternal soul. 

Janet Barnes

Sheffield