As guidelines vary, some churches defy state orders
In states that have relaxed social distancing guidelines, churches are re-launching in-person services, often with new precautions in place. While churches in Virginia can meet at 50% capacity, gatherings in Illinois are still limited to 10 people or fewer. After some churches in Chicago met May 17, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said officials are reviewing reports of large gatherings Sunday and “will issue and mail citations where necessary.”
On May 13, a federal judge denied a request by two non-Southern Baptist churches in Chicagoland seeking a temporary restraining order against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. Judge Robert Gettleman said a restraining order “would risk the lives of congregants…their family members, friends, co-workers and other members of their communities with whom they come in contact,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Churches weigh science and singing
As some research indicates congregational singing could spread Coronavirus, some church leaders are considering new ways to worship together, while others go back to traditional practices.
YouTube blocks pastor’s Coronavirus book
After five weeks on YouTube, John Piper’s book “Coronavirus and Christ” was blocked by the video site for violating “community guidelines,” Christian Post reports. The publication is also at the center of controversy involving 22 military chaplains who opposed a senior chaplain’s distribution of the book, due to its discussion of specific sins and judgment.
Churches encouraged by new Paycheck Protection guidance
Churches that received small loans through a federal COVID-19 relief program won’t face the risk of a government challenge to their certification of the loans’ necessity, Baptist Press reports. Some churches receiving loans through the Paycheck Protection Payment had contemplated returning the funds due to unclear guidelines, but new guidance released May 13 established a “safe harbor” for borrowers receiving a loan of less than $2 million.
Pastors, churchgoers different on sermon lengths
Pastors tend think their sermons are shorter than their listeners do, according to LifeWay Research. Recent data found 85% of Protestant pastors say their sermons are shorter than 40 minutes, and 66% of churchgoers say the same. But at the extremes, their estimates vary. Churchgoers (11%) are half as likely to say their pastor typically preaches less than 20 minutes as pastors (22%) are to say their sermons are that length. At the other end of the spectrum, churchgoers (12%) are six times more likely than pastors (2%) to say the typical sermon lasts at least an hour.
Sources: Christian Post, Chicago Tribune, Illinois Baptist, Religion News Service, Baptist Press, LifeWay Research