North Carolina Megachurch Says It Won't Reopen until There Is a COVID-19 Vaccine
One of North Carolina’s largest churches, World Overcomers Christian Church, says it will not hold in-person services until a vaccine for coronavirus is developed.
“When our people are able to come back together, they’re going to want to greet one another and hug one another, and in my estimation, the risks are too great,” Andy Thompson, senior pastor of the 15,000-member church, told CBS 17. “We have to figure out ways to minister to people beyond just them risking contact in the middle of a pandemic.”
According to The Christian Post, the church pointed to a recent report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which showed an increase in clusters of coronavirus cases linked to social gatherings.
The department defines a cluster as the occurrence of five or more epidemiologically linked cases within 14 days of each other.
The report said religious gatherings ranked third on the list of social gatherings potentially creating clusters.
In light of the report, Thompson said World Overcomers Christian Church will continue streaming services online.
“Church for us is just growing. We’ve never had this many people watching,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever go back to having church the way I did before.”
Thompson said he worries about other churches that have decided to return to in-person gatherings.
“Every time they tell me they’re having meetings, I always say, ‘You might want to rethink that. Do you really have to have meetings to minister the gospel of Christ?'” he said.
World Overcomers Christian Church is the latest church to suspend in-person services. As Christians Headlines previously reported, over the summer, Andy Stanley, of North Point Community Church in Georgia, announced the church wouldn’t hold in-person gatherings until at least 2021.
A survey from LifeWay Research found that 87 percent of Protestant pastors in the U.S. have reopened their churches for in-person services. Thirteen percent said they are not holding in-person meetings.
Photo courtesy: World Overcomers Christian Church Facebook
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.