The Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches, an association of churches that, according to the CREC website, includes Moscow’s Christ Church and Trinity Reformed Church, said in a letter that the churches will soon no longer comply with government isolation orders that were instituted to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The letter to government leaders in the U.S. and abroad was written by Virgil Hurt, CREC presiding minister of council, and dated Tuesday. The full letter can be found at crechurches.org.
It is unclear if Christ Church or Trinity Reformed Church will hold traditional, in-person services while government orders to stay home and avoid mass gatherings are in place.
One member of Christ Church declined to comment for this story. Voicemails left Wednesday on the Christ Church’s main line and Trinity Reformed Church’s main line were not returned.
“The citizens of the United States and our congregants are already beginning to strongly feel the need to get back to regular living,” the letter said. “While we do not currently have a date after which we will no longer comply with the extreme restrictions, we believe the time is now at hand for our leaders to stand down from the extreme isolation efforts, and the date after which we will no longer comply, is soon approaching, in days or weeks, not months.”
Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert said it would be “pretty dumb” and irresponsible for churches to hold traditional in-person church services while orders are in place.
“If you have gatherings like that and you have somebody that’s asymptomatic, all you’re going to do is infect everybody else there,” said Lambert, noting those infected could then die.
He commended the churches who have been holding virtual services or other service formats that practice social distancing.
“The sooner we stomp it out, the quicker we’ll get back to the norm,” Lambert said.
City Supervisor Gary Riedner said Moscow police will educate those who violate the city or state orders, but if an individual, business or organization refuses to comply they could face a misdemeanor charge.
The letter stated that the initial information about the coronavirus was incomplete.
“The pandemic is not what we all thought it was going to be,” the letter said. “This is understandable. It was new. We all thought it was a dire threat and we all responded to protect the lives of our citizens, and our congregants, as we should have. It is now clear that the stated rationale for these temporary, emergency actions, “to flatten the curve,” has been achieved, and that these temporary measures are no longer necessary. If we continue on the current course of action of extreme mitigation, things may get much worse, as we fear they most certainly will.”
It said the pandemic did not justify putting millions of people out of work and closing businesses and churches.
“It is now time to open up for business, return to work and return to the worship of the Triune God,” the letter said. “While Covid-19 is among us and members of our churches have been harmed by the disease, the much larger damage to our members has been done by cutting off the means of supporting the lives of their families.”
The letter encouraged government leaders to consider the damage if the economy continues to be stagnant.
“If this were a great plague, a direct threat to the health and lives of all of our congregants, as many of us initially thought it was, we would be glad to continue to comply with reasonable measures to mitigate the spread,” the letter said. “However, it is now clear that it is not the plague and we are not prepared to continue to comply with extreme mitigation efforts. Our desire is to be obedient to the civil magistrate. However, we must also do what we believe God expects of us, what is best for our people and our communities, and what our consciences dictate.”
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.