Evangelical leader casts doubt on some social distancing measures

Published 28 May 2020  |  
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Only time will tell "how good" social distancing measures have been, the head of the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) has said.

In a letter to supporters, EEA General Secretary Thomas Bucher said there was a need to question what had been gained by social distancing, particularly in the light of some negative consequences, like poor mental health.

He said that "not everything has been good" about the measures imposed across Europe to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, and that "some decisions were made hastily".

Mr Bucher suggested some of the guidance could "backfire" and that it was right of churches to consider whether they should "challenge certain official measures".

While he refrained from specifics, in the UK, church closures have been a source of contention for some Christians.

"Above all, we should watch and pray to determine if we need to challenge certain official measures," Mr Bucher said.

"We need to question what we have gained by physical distancing if it produces even more casualties than the virus itself.

"People are becoming more and more depressed and become ill and some even die. Not everything has been good.

"Some decisions were made hastily in order to preserve our lives and for the common good. What remains to be seen is 'how good has it been?' We need to make sure it does not backfire on us."

Elsewhere in the letter, Mr Bucher said the pandemic had forced the Church to change "in order to discover or invent new rituals, habits and ways of behaviour that show affection, closeness and intimacy despite the distant socialising".

He admitted this could be a struggle for the Church, which is "yet to find a substitute way to express closeness" like that experienced during times like Communion and the Peace.

There was an additional challenge for the Church, he suggested, in reaching out to those left lonely by coronavirus.

"In early church times it was the Christians who were known to sit with those who were ill and thereby doing so many of the ill did not feel so lonely and were helped in their recovery," he said.

"And yes, the ones who had been lonely before the Covid-19 crisis are even more lonely now. How can we connect?"

He added: "May God give you a vivid imagination to show closeness and love and may you have the courage to explore new ways and possibly reclaim old ones."

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