The Black Church’s Role During the COVID-19 Crisis
By Cash Michaels
Confusion reigns across the nation as thousands of new COVID-19 cases are being reported; the national deaths climb above 3,000; politicians angrily fight one another as the economy crumbles; and the president, against all scientific advice, vows to defeat the viral infestation in weeks, not months.
Incredibly, the elderly is being urged by the lieutenant governor of Texas to give their lives to save the nation’s economy; school systems and businesses are shuttered, and gatherings of 50 people or more were not permitted, not even for Sunday worship services.
Is this the biblical “end of times” as once predicted? Like the devastating 1918 plague that killed 50 million people the world over, is the novel coronavirus a message from GOD that, once again, He is not pleased with man, or his defiant behavior?
One of North Carolina’s oldest, and most revered Baptist ministers, the Reverend Dr. Cardes H. Brown, Jr., Senior Pastor of New Light Missionary Baptist Church in Greensboro for over forty-three years; local NAACP chapter president, and a disciple of the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., says there is no question in his mind, or his faith, that GOD is telling His children something.
“We’re living in a time where the disparities that exist in our society are amplified, and certainly visualized,” Dr. Brown says, noting that the COVID-19 crisis is forcing Americans to recognize those disparities, if not ultimately address them.
Rev. Brown cites II Chronicles 7:14, If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
“It seems to me that there are things that we, as believers, recognize in this pandemic. It’s a global situation….and if nothing else is realized through this coronavirus, [it should be that] all people are responsible to each other.”
Unlike many churches across the state that have cancelled their Sunday services or have streamed them online in the face of Gov. Roy Cooper’s original order that no more than 100 people could congregate in one area (the governor later reduced that to no more than fifty in order to contain the COVID-19 spread), Pastor Brown says New Light Missionary has both complied with the governor’s order, yet still had service for smaller congregations within the order’s boundaries.
“For those who do come to service, we will observe social distancing,” the Rocky Mount native added, referring to the prescribed six-foot space health officials have recommended individuals should maintain between themselves and others while in public to reduce viral spread.
And for those who feel safer staying sheltered, New Light Missionary’s services are being streamed as well.
Rev. Brown is urging all of his church family group members to stay in touch with one another to make sure they remain close, and help share both emotional and spiritual support during the course of the COVID-19 crisis.