As churches finally open up for in-person services again, pastors are finding out that, much like restaurants, the regulars aren’t all quite ready to return. You can’t blame them. Why put yourself in the situation of going to a non-essential place when COVID-19 has been spreading all over the country, especially when you’re going to be in close proximity to people?
That’s why what Pastor Tim Deason of Sugartown United Pentecostal Church in Sugartown, Louisiana did yesterday was so appalling.
During a service where people did not social distance or wear face masks, Deason called out by name members of the church who weren’t there in order to publicly shame them.
You can see it in the clip below or in this video around the 44:00 mark.
(I’m not putting their names in the transcript. And it was hard to decipher some of what he was saying.)
… I’m very happy that each one of y’all are here this morning, but here’s where I’m not happy this morning. I want you to look around. Look around this morning. We have Sister [redacted] and Sister [redacted], they’re gone on vacation. [Redacted] and [redacted] and their family is not here. [Redacted] and [redacted] and their family is not here. Sister [redacted] is not here. [Redacted] and [redacted] is not here this morning. Miss [redacted] is not here. Sister [redacted] is not here. [Redacted] and his family is not here. Sister [redacted] and [redacted] and some of the children’s not here. [Redacted] and [redacted] is not here this morning. Sister [redacted] and her children is not here. [Redacted] and [redacted] and [redacted] is not here. [Redacted] and [redacted] and [redacted] is not here. [Redacted] and [redacted] and their family is not here.
Ooh, it got quiet in here. Oh, I’m talking about Saints of God. From Sugartown United Pentecostal Church, I’m your pastor. So let me address you this morning. You must be faithful to the House of God. Everybody said amen… This is not a one-service church, means that you take a service on Sunday morning, and we established this quite some times ago. When we have a service, then the doors are open. We need to be in church. Everybody said amen.
We have Sunday school at 9:45. You don’t choose whether you come to Sunday school on Sunday morning. If the doors are open, you need to be in Sunday school. Everybody said amen! And the ones that’s on Facebook, everybody say amen out there? Good, I heard you, thank you, I’ll preach to you next Sunday.
You need church. You need church. Why do I get up here sometimes fussing and complaining?… I’m trying to get you to Heaven. Hallelujah. I’m gonna talk a little bit about that. I guess the Lord just knew youse was gonna be here this morning. I want people to go on vacation. I do. But I don’t just want folks to stay home. If you’re not teaching your family faithfulness, you’re not exhibiting more of that attributes of God. Praise the Lord. Let’s all stand this morning…
There’s no acknowledgment that people may be avoiding an in-person service for health reasons. It’s not hard to imagine that possibility, given the complete lack of precautions they’re taking inside this place. As far as I can tell, based on their Facebook postings, they don’t seem to have taken many weeks off from in-person services at all.
The people who aren’t attending in person are the smart ones. At least they’ll have the option of returning in the future. The same can’t definitively be said about everyone else at yesterday’s service, blissfully ignorant of the invisible danger in their midst.