Some Churches Cancel Services, Others Streaming Online Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – This weekend, churches in our area are taking unprecedented steps, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Bishop of the Charlotte Diocese has excused Catholics in Western North Carolina from attending mass. Bishop Peter Jugis says mass will continue at churches with a seating capacity of less than 100, but Catholics should “exercise prudence” about whether to attend.

It comes as several other houses of worship in our area are cancelling services or moving to online streaming.

“We consulted with doctors, they said, there’s no way you can have all these people in the building,” says Pastor James Howell, with Myers Park United Methodist Church.

Myers Park UMC is one of the churches that will move its services to the internet.

“Had a couple push back, saying, ‘you know, probably be OK, shouldn’t worry so much and panic,’ but you know, I would way rather have exercised too much caution than be sorry we didn’t exercise enough caution,” Howell says.

The changes come as Governor Roy Cooper recommends meetings of more than 100 people be postponed, cancelled, or moved.

“Removing the harm takes priority over gaining benefit,” explains Imam John Ederer, with the Muslim Community Center of Charlotte.

It’s a similar situation for Imam John Ederer, who has cancelled Friday prayers at the Muslim Community of Charlotte.

“Gaining some spiritual knowledge is a benefit, but if you could possibly be the cause of someone’s death then you should not enjoin in that behavior,” Ederer says.

For now, faith leaders will adjust as best as they can, without knowing how long the current situation will last.

“Some people say two weeks, four weeks, who knows how long this is going to be, could be months, I mean I don’t know,” Howell says.