Hillsong NYC has said it will be moving all services online as a measure to protect against the spread of coronavirus. The announcement comes as congregations across the country continue to weigh up whether or not to pull the plug on their weekend gatherings.
“In response to the rapidly changing government policies to safeguard people against the Coronavirus, we are redirecting all of our church services and events online across the East Coast,” the church said in an Instagram post yesterday.
In an accompanying letter, Pastor Carl Lentz wrote that his church planned to “provide an online experience that will build community and keep us connected,” before praying that the situation would make them “even stronger as a church family!”
Lentz went on to say that despite the situation being “complex, unsure and genuinely unsettling,” he was “confident and full of faith” that God was going to “turn this around into a miraculous story of grace and peace.”
“Our faith, our hope, and our eyes still rest on Jesus as they always have and always will,” he wrote.
Earlier this week, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear called on all churches across the state to close their doors until further notice. Announcing the advice, Behear warned against Christians thinking this situation should be viewed as a test of faith.
“I don’t believe whether you go to church during this period of time is a test of faith, I believe God gives us wisdom to protect each other and we should do that,” he said at a press conference, according to Wave 3 News. “I know it’s a big step and I know some won’t agree with it, but I believe that it’s our job to offer those protections.”
Other congregations have been introducing emergency measures such as ditching communion, banning handshakes and making hand sanitizer available at the doors.
The first person to be diagnosed with coronavirus in Washington D.C. was Rev. Tim Cole, the rector of Christ Church in Georgetown. Due to the fact that Rev. Cole was administering communion and shaking the hands of congregants while infected with the virus, city mayor Muriel Bowser has since requested that all church members self-isolate for 14 days.
At least one of the approximately 550 parishioners revealed that he failed to heed the advice and instead opted to go out and play golf with friends.
As a result, the church’s spokesman Rob Volmer issued a statement harshly criticizing those who ignore the self-isolation advice.
“Trying to prove a point. What point? That the mayor’s wrong and your doctor’s right? I just don’t think it’s worth the risk. It’s two weeks out of your life,” Volmer told FOX 5. “Let’s put our community before our own needs at this point in time.”
The church organist has also tested positive for the virus.