by Dan Eide
The coronavirus pandemic has very much affected the Northwest part of the U.S. as well as the FCA churches there. At this point in time:
- Per the governor of Washington State, all churches with 250 and greater must suspend services, or ensure no greater than 250 gather at any one time.
- Many churches, including less than 250 people are suspending services and live streaming their services.
- Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon have had their employees telecommute as much as they are able. Businesses, especially Chinese-owned businesses, are being financially impacted due to fear of the virus.
- Washington State announced on March 12 that all public and private schools in three counties (King — including Seattle, Snohomish, and Pierce) must suspend classes until April 27th. (Most of the FCA churches in the Northwest are within these 3 counties.) With the closing of public and private schools, it is unclear how this will impact youth and children programs in churches. It appears, however, this will have severe impact on education process for students, especially for families with special-needs children who typically would be in school will now have to figure out how their family life will need to adjust.
- The I-5 freeway corridor running through King, Snohomish, and Pierce County — usually some of the busiest in the nation — is strangely no longer congested.
- Hospitals have tents set up outside entrances to exam people before being cleared to enter buildings — or turned away.
- All venues for large groups, such as sporting and entertainment events, have been told to cancel.
- So far 31 people have died in Washington State because of COVID-19.
Our churches in this 3-county region will be impacted in numerous ways, including how they receive regular tithes and offerings. Many congregations already have systems for online giving in place. Those who do not yet have online giving as an option will face real challenges, especially considering the fact that ministry and missions work are not suspended during this time. Other normal church expenses, such as rent, mortgage, and utilities also remain in place.
Many churches are responding with more strategic communiques to their people during this time. Emailing members about church news, events, and ways to donate are helping during this unusual time.
This pandemic is especially beginning to take a toll on those with preexisting mental health issues. Many find the meeting place of church to be a place of great comfort to be loved on by the Body of Christ. Ministry to them will continue, but things will be different, and the coming weeks will reveal increased stress on everyone in our region.
In light of all that is happening around our state and nation, the believers here in Washington seem strong. However, churches that were previously under stress are especially vulnerable during this uncertain time. The Church in Washington State, along with their Shepherds and the individual members, all covet the prayers of saints around the nation.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind,
be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people (Eph. 6:18).
Dan Eide is pastor of Sisco Heights Community Church in Arlington, Washington.