On May 31, to celebrate the grand opening of their new building, the Westmore Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee held an in-person celebration. On June 22, they held another huge in-person gathering that brought together “several hundred people” for the three-hour indoor service.
You know where this is going.
Because of a lack of precautions — no mandatory face masks, no real distancing, a choir that spread the virus through singing, people putting their hands on each other to pray — it didn’t take long for people to test positive.
On June 24, two days after that gathering, Westmore’s lead pastor Kelvin Page announced the first COVID-19 case in his congregation. The next day, Page announced in a Facebook video that there were five cases in the church. The day after that, June 26, Page said there were at least 12 confirmed cases and the church services would be online-only for June 28 and July 5.
On July 1, Westmore said in a statement that the church leadership was “made aware of a number of additional confirmed cases” in the congregation.
It got so bad that the church stopped telling the public how many people had been infected. And now we know why: The pastor just gave up.
During Thursday’s interview [with Mix 104.1 WCLE in Cleveland], Page said maintaining an exact count of sick people in the church is complicated since some believe they got the virus at another location or tested positive for influenza but not COVID-19.
“I do not know the exact number,” he told the radio station. “I don’t even know. I wouldn’t even know within a range. I do know that it is way too many. And we’ve got to live and learn from it. And so we gave up on keeping a count.
“I do regret that I can’t give you an exact number,” he added. “I would want to own that. We do know that it hit us hard and that it was way too many people.”
When asked if he had any regrets, Page’s answer was that he wished he had more strongly stressed the importance of wearing masks. That’s it. He did not say, “I wish we hadn’t met in person because that was selfish and dangerous.” Which means when they open back up — yes, they’re seriously considering opening back up by next week, though that could be delayed — masks may be the only change from the past. The hands-on prayers and the singing and the proximity to strangers will still be ever-present.
While others have been careful to self-quarantine, go inside buildings only when necessary (like for groceries), or at the very least only gather with others outdoors, these people don’t realize they’re causing their own problems and their own ignorance is stopping them from making the right decision.
God isn’t going to protect people from the virus. Instead, as this church shows, people who believe in God are only going to make the problem worse.
(Screenshot via YouTube)