More churches move online as coronavirus spreads

Published 16 March 2020  |  
Steven Furtick's Elevation Church is one of those to have moved online over the weekend

Some churches are moving their services online in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bethel Church in Redding, California, said they had suspended public services in light of a request made by Shasta County officials to help contain the virus. The church instead streamed the Sunday service through its Bethel.tv website.

It follows the decision last week by Bethel to cancel some upcoming student missions and ministry trips.

"Bethel continues to remain in close communication with Shasta County Public Health to be aware of their recommendations for Shasta County, especially as it pertains to church gatherings," it said.

Bethel spokesman Aaron Tesauro said: "We're thankful for technology that allows us to host church online and stay connected as a community during this time."

Elevation Church, led by Steven Furtick in Charlotte, North Carolina, also moved its services online over the weekend following guidance from the state governor to cancel mass gatherings.

"We will continue to monitor the situation week by week and hope to resume normal weekend services at our campuses as soon as we are able," the church said in a statement.

Last week, Joel Osteen announced that public services at his Lakewood megachurch in Houston, Texas, would be switching to online-only after a public health emergency was declared in the city.

Church and Friends of the Holy Ghost in Genoa, Italy, has been using Facebook to hold "virtual Eucharists" and "cyber Communion" since the country went into lockdown.

Italy is the second worst affected country outside China, with nearly 25,000 cases and over 1,800 killed as of Sunday.

At Church and Friends, all regular services are suspended but the church is allowed to remain open for individuals to stop by, as long as they remain at least a metre apart from others.

During "this time of severe limitation to our life together", the church is posting sermons to its website and a thought for the day to its Facebook page each day.

It said it is hoping that the lockdown will be over in time for Easter services to go ahead as normal.

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