GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In response to capacity shortages in hospitals and health systems across the state, local churches across Grand Rapids and Kent County will further limit in-person gatherings beginning Wednesday, Nov. 18, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Participating churches will discontinue large gatherings such as worship services, weddings, and meetings of more than five individuals until Dec. 8, according to the Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force.
"All of the folks on the front line trying to do the right thing in public health," said Khary Bridgewater, coordinator of the Church Task Force, "we've decided we wanted to support them. One way to do that is limiting our in-person gatherings."
The 61 churches are different denominations and size. Bridgewater said many other churches have expressed interest in the pledge, even those in neighboring counties, and have taken steps to limit gatherings.
First Community AME Church in Grand Rapids is one of the 61 churches joining the pledge. Pastor Willie Gholston said they have been doing virtual service since March, and will continue as long as necessary to keep the congregation safe.
"Because as a result of the lives lost, everybody has been impact in some particular way," said Gholston, "Many of our congregations have individuals that have contracted the disease. It’s from the youngest to the most seasoned, so it doesn’t discriminate."
The Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force has met weekly with leaders from the Kent County Health Department since the first documented case of COVID-19 in March. Since then, task force leaders have worked with the health department to reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19 in all segments of the community, preventing disparities prevalent in other geographic areas.
“Our goal is to stand with our front-line medical workers and public health officials,” said Rev. Joe Jones, Grand Rapids 2nd Ward City Commissioner. “We need to do this for the brave men and women who provide life-saving health care, and we need to do this to ensure there is adequate hospital capacity to serve anyone who needs care for cancer, a heart attack, or any number of medical crises. This pandemic is having a devastating impact on our beloved community and the virus does not discriminate. It’s affecting all, regardless of zip code, race, socioeconomic status or age.”
Participating churches will continue to serve members and the public through online worship sessions. In addition, by Dec. 1, select churches will begin administering wellness checks in their congregations and communities via phone, text and digital platforms.
Here is a full list of the the pastors halting in-person worship:
- Rev. Nathaniel Moody (Co-chair Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force) – Brown Hutcherson Ministries
- Rev. Miguel A. Toro (Co-chair Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force) – Iglesia de Cristo Misionera
- Rev. Jeff Manion (Co-chair Kent County COVID-19 Church Task Force) – Ada Bible Church
- Rev. Miguel Abreu – Iglesia de Cristo Misionera
- Rev. Carlos Aranguiz – Iglesia Belem Grand Rapids
- Rev. Joy Bonnema – Madison Square Church (North Campus)
- Rev. Perfecto Brown – The New Breed Church
- Rev. Suzan Brown – The New Breed Church
- Rev. Dr. Ron Carter – King’s Bible Church
- Rev. Kevin Crisostomo – Iglesia Cristo Misionera
- Rev. Robert Dean – New Life COGIC
- Rev. Darrell Delaney – Madison Square Church (Square Campus)
- Rev. Dr. Howard C. Earle, Jr. – New Hope Baptist Church
- Rev. Troy A. Evans – The EDGE Urban Fellowship
- Rev. Juan F. Flores – Belen Casa del Pan
- Rev. Dr. Eula C. Gaddis, Jr. – Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church
- Rev. Dr. Willie A. Gholston II – First Community AME Church
- Rev. Adam Green – New Dimensions Victory Center Church of God in Christ
- Rev. Dwight Gutridge - St. Luke AME Zion
- Rev. Julian Guzman – Iglesia Vida Plena
- Rev. Dr. Timothy Mark Harris – Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church
- Rev. Severino Hernandez – Iglesia Fuente de Vida
- Rev. Dr. Kenneth W. Hoskins – Alpha Omega Ministries COGIC
- Rev. Michelle Jackson – Church Builders Bible Training Center
- Rev. Jay Jones – The Pentecostals of Kentwood
- Rev. Joe Jones – Brown Hutcherson Ministries
- Rev. Dr. Kizombo L. Kalumbula, Jr. – Tabernacle Community Church
- Rev. Brad Knetsch – Madison Square Church (Franklin Campus)
- Rev. Dallas Lenear – Journey Church Grand Rapids
- Rev. Thea Leunk – Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church
- Rev. Nygil B. Likely – Friendship Missionary Baptist Church
- Rev. Artie M. Lindsay, Sr. – Tabernacle Community Church
- Rev. Marcus Little – Berean Baptist Church
- Rev. Ernestine Lockett – Bread of the World Church
- Rev. Deborah McCreary – Eastminster Presbyterian Church
- Rev. Sandra McGlothin – Women of Faith Ministries
- Bishop Dennis McMurray – Renaissance Church of God in Christ
- Rev. Jorge Morales – Iglesia Casa de Oración
- Rev. John Mondi – African Community Fellowship
- Rev. Daniel Oglesby – Living Word Christian Center
- Rev. Carl A. Pace, Jr. – True Light Baptist Church
- Rev. Daniel Parker – Kingdom Life Ministries
- Rev. M. Wayne Peters – 4 Fires Ministries
- Rev. J.R. Pittman – Ignite Fellowship Church
- Rev. Anna Radcliffe – City Chapel Grand Rapids
- Rev. Ron Radcliffe – City Chapel Grand Rapids
- Rev. David Reynoso – Iglesia Sanando las Naciones
- Rev. Isaura Rivas – Mt. Zion Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Rev. José Luis Rivas – Iglesia Cada de mi Padre
- Rev. Jose Riveron - Iglesia Bautista Reconciliacíon
- Rev. Leatha Roberts – Changing Point Church
- Rev. Robert Roberts – Changing Point Church
- Rev. Charlie Selmon, Jr. – Wellspring Church of Grand Rapids
- Rev. Raycheen Sims – Dream Builders International Church
- Rev. Robert Sims – Dream Builders International Church
- Rev. Dr. James C. Stokes – New Life Tabernacle COGIC
- Rev. Leroy Tolbert – Macedonia Baptist Church
- Rev. Robert Trice – Relevant Church Grand Rapids
- Rev. Willie E. Waver II – No Greater Love Ministries
- Rev. Theda Fields White – Pinnacle Crest Ministries
- Rev. Tim Wilson – South Harbor Church
13 ON YOUR SIDE also reached out to the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids for their plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. A spokesperson sent this statement:
“At this time, Mass and the celebration of sacraments remain available at Catholic Churches in the Diocese of Grand Rapids. The diocese has provided each parish with detailed guidance on the COVID-19 mitigation strategies that are required to be in place in order for these celebrations to occur.
This guidance includes, but is not limited to:
- Requiring parishioners wear a mask when they attend
- Maintaining social distancing between households
- Asking people who are sick or who may be considered at high risk of contracting COVID-19 to remain at home
- Encouraging proper hand hygiene
- Making sure that all high-touch surfaces are properly disinfected between Masses
These mitigation strategies have proven effective since we re-opened public Masses in May. We ask all parishioners to continue following these mitigation strategies to ensure that Masses remain available.
The Diocese of Grand Rapids will continue to work with medical experts and public health officials to ensure we are taking the appropriate action steps to ensure the safety of our parish communities. We are grateful for the sacrifices and work of our health care professionals as they continue to bring the community through these tough times.”
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