As I read last Friday’s front page article “Shoals Churches Have Similar Plans For Sunday Reopening,” it reminded me how we as pastors are in a period of unparalleled decision making.
Many of us struggled with the decision to close our churches two months ago. Two months later, the decision concerning when and how to reopen is even more difficult. I empathize with the more than half-dozen pastors/church leaders interviewed in this article.
Though very insightful, I did notice a glaring observation. There was no perspective from an African-American pastor or church.
While many churches have made strategies to reopen before the month ends, many African-American clergy (myself included) are deciding to yet remain closed. And I believe it is imperative to share why.
Do we have the ability to enact safe sanitation, enforce social-distancing, and adjust features of our worship? Yes.
However, there is another “yes” we as African-American clergy/churches unfortunately have to consider in our reopening decision. Yes to the fact that COVID-19 is disproportionately infecting and killing black people at an alarming higher rate. According to ADPH, 44% of COVID-19 deaths in Alabama are African-Americans, although we only make up 26.5% of the state’s population.
Such a statistic places upon us an extra layer of deliberation that has led many of us to keep our finger on the pause button for now.
The good news is, delay doesn’t equate to denial. Though our times of reopen may be different, the liberating God of reopen is still the same.
Pastor Wesley Thompson
Bethel Colbert MB Church