A prominent association of Christian doctors is urging churches to pause in-person gatherings to help slow the spread of Covid-19.
Christian Medical and Dental Associations, in a Nov. 19 statement, pointed to a record number of daily cases in the U.S. for the rationale behind its stance. The U.S. set another record on Friday with 193,000 daily cases, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
“We have to slow the rising tide of COVID-19 cases, or our hospitals will be overrun,” the statement, written by CMDA’s Jeffrey Barrows and Christopher Hook, said.
It was posted on the organization’s website under the headline, “A Plea to Our Churches.”
“The time it takes for the U.S. to accumulate one million cases has dropped from 44 days to just seven days. The pandemic has not only arrived; it is hitting with hurricane force and has reached a crisis point,” the statement said. “The sector that is bearing the brunt of this raging pandemic is our healthcare system, particularly the healthcare professionals who constitute the backbone of our healthcare system.”
CMDA encouraged churches to pause gatherings out of a love of neighbor. Church should not “become an idol by itself,” the statement said.
“The issue here is the second greatest commandment: to love one another as we love ourselves. Restricting meeting for a season is not about fear of contracting the virus ourselves,” the statement said. “Rather, it is about loving one another and minimizing risk to the vulnerable around us. As members of the body of Christ, we are called to be His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). That means that Christ has chosen us to reveal His love and grace to all those around us. Choosing to put off gathering together as a church is a statement of love.
“Voluntarily choosing not to gather allows us to make a statement that is not overshadowed by a government restriction. It enables a church to proclaim to their locality that they care so much for their members, family and friends that they are willing to give up their right to gather together. It allows each church to make a statement of love, not just by their words, but through the action of no longer gathering together.
“It is tragic,” the statement said, “to see Christians become even more reviled because we appear to care only about our individual freedoms and don’t care that we may be contributing to others getting this illness because of our selfishness. As Christian healthcare professionals, we will voluntarily restrict our ‘freedoms’ for a time to help protect my neighbor.
“As an association of Christian healthcare professionals, CMDA urgently requests that churches strongly consider taking their services online and cancel in-person gatherings until this current surge of COVID-19 cases passes.”
CMDA was founded in 1931 and has a membership of more than 20,000 health care professionals.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.