Jared Wellman, lead pastor of Tate Springs, told The Christian Post that the digital Easter egg hunt event came as a way to better engage younger children with the church’s online services.
“I noticed that as we’ve moved to online streaming services that the content is not necessarily engaging for younger kids,” explained Wellman. “I thought, ‘We need to engage kids somehow, especially on Easter.’ Of course that’s difficult without the traditional egg hunt, which we were going to offer.”
Wellman said he talked with Tate Springs’ Family Pastor Curtis James about the issue and he with his ministry team responded with the Minecraft egg hunt.
“Our ultimate goal in all we do is to show and share the message of Jesus,” said Wellman. “As a church, holding a virtual egg hunt for the purpose of holding a virtual egg hunt would be no different than just asking kids to play a video game, and that’s not why we exist as a church.”
“So we created a sign-up form for the event to gather email addresses so that we can do our best to follow up with participants electronically to make sure they get access not only to the private server on Easter, but to the explicit message of the resurrection of Jesus.”
In an interview with CP, James said that he felt the Minecraft game was “a good place to provide an opportunity for kids to gather and build things together as well as a location to gather for our Easter activity.”
“The server can be set up to avoid some of the scarier aspects of the game. While the game doesn’t have extremely scary components, there are monsters and your character can be hurt by falling, etc.,” James explained. “In the server setup you can disable these features to make it just be an open building world like a giant sandbox.”
“Minecraft as a game is about building things from scratch, so you can make it into whatever you want in game, so building the atmosphere you desire is just about getting people in the world and setting them loose on a project.”
James hopes other congregations will consider emulating their use of Minecraft, telling CP that further resources are available at his church website here.
“This event provides us with the opportunity to connect with people that wouldn’t normally come to our church, and share Christ with them in follow up and minster to their needs,” James said.
“Our church is a place where families enjoy getting together and living life, and we would love for others to experience that blessing.”
This week, in the midst of the coronavirus panic, I would love to share with you a triumphant story; a story of hope lost but found again, a story of sorrow turned to joyful purpose, a story of deep desperation ultimately redeemed with steadfast love.
It seems that throughout history, and especially after September 11th, we, as a people have been overcome with concern and grief over devastating wartime injuries and loss of beloved life. In the last 10 years, the silent injuries of the Afghan and Iraq wars have come to light, particularly PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury). These emotionally and physically crushing injuries hit close to home for many of us today, as they do my family.
My story today is about my brave Wounded Warrior son-in-law, Chris. On July 4, 2007, Chris was a sergeant in the US Army doing his third tour of duty in Iraq when he suffered a deep head injury. He was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD and TBI, and in February 2013, after years of insufficient and unsuccessful medical treatment, he was medically retired from the Army. Chris loved being a soldier, it was his identity, and he intended the Army to be his life career. But because of his injury, after 13 years of devoted service, he found himself starting over; a civilian for the first time as an adult and with debilitating symptoms of a war injury most knew little about.
As a mom, I will always remember that first terrified phone call from my daughter, Tiffany, the day Chris was injured. And the subsequent calls, updates, prayer requests, tearfully needing advice and a shoulder to cry on in the hard, painful, frustrating days, months, and years following.
After initial treatment, Chris’s injuries were not considered life threatening. And because the lingering effects of a traumatic brain injury were not yet understood, he and Tiffany found it difficult to obtain treatment that relieved his symptoms. There were frustrating days, months, even years of body-dropping headaches, severe pain and depression, vision and comprehension issues, disillusionment, fear and super charged anger. Tiffany spent months researching and writing letters to government officials advocating approval for leading-edge civilian treatments and medical trials in the absence of suitable military care.
During this time, my husband and I lived on Kwajalein, an island in the Marshall Islands, where my husband worked. As the strain on Chris’s emotional health and on their marriage became unbearable, we pulled together as a family the best we could. I journeyed the 14,000-mile round trip home as often as possible. Tiffany dug in and committed to seeing this through, not realizing how many more painful years they would need to endure.
In 2013, after Chris was medically retired, they moved from Ft Bragg, North Carolina to Oxford, Ohio to attend Miami University. Tiffany was accepted into their Farmer School of Business with a minor in social work. It was during this time, advocating for Chris’s care at the Cincinnati VA that she realized the VA’s critical shortage and need for properly trained social workers to coordinate care for these wounded veterans. Through this experience, she also realized that had her wounded Vietnam veteran father, suffering from severe PTSD, been able to get the aftercare he needed, he might still be alive today.
This beautiful-souled girl then changed her major to social work and began studying to become an advocate for our country’s veterans and wounded warriors! Story here.
Years down the road, besides being her husband’s greatest support and advocate, Tiffany has her master’s in social work, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and dedicates her hours and skills to the Dallas VA Hospital facility. She has spent much time working with homeless veterans as well as those in their hospital in-patient substance abuse and outpatient mental health programs. Her goal is to actually write the programs designed to help our country’s veterans live a better quality of life.
As for Chris, the last 7 years have held wild ups and downs, periods of hopeless, deep depression and times that I feared for his and Tiffany’s lives. As a mother, there were a few years I stayed right at Jesus’ feet in desperate prayer for their safety. But, because of Tiffany’s continued strength of character, hope for her husband and their future, a good prayer support team, and the blessing of a few, caring individuals, they persevered and experienced periodic small steps forward that kept them going.
Their 18 months in Oxford, Ohio were some of their darkest days with Chris struggling greatly, emotionally and physically. However, in 2014, they moved to Texas where Tiffany began her Master’s program and internship at the Dallas VA Hospital. Thanks to a caring, creative counselor, Chris was able to enroll and finally complete classes for his bachelor’s degree and begin a new career. This was short lived, however, as he was unable to sustain the stiff office atmosphere of the job.
You see, Chris was a military police, used to having authority and being out and about – not trapped for hours behind a desk doing paperwork, staring at a computer, or having a boss micro managing him. Coupled with the lasting affects of a deep brain injury, for Chris, extended administrative work was simply not possible. And the struggle began again.
There is so much more wrapped up within this story, the deep desperation, the engulfing soul-grieving anniversary days of lost battle buddies and brothers, the nightmares of reliving unimaginable experiences, the hopelessness of trying to fit back into peaceful society after the war torn world he knew, the hopeless advice from well-meaning but uninformed individuals, the one-after-another medical and professional setbacks. The alcohol abuse trying to stop the pain. And more. Indeed, so much more, in the lives of wounded veterans everywhere.
There are so many sorrow-laced stories of wounded veterans these days. Sorrow-laced because of their painful journeys and inadequate medical care, yes, but also because so little people find the time to truly care and step up to help.
But you can also find many uplifting stories of those who found hope and healing because when they lost all hope, they had someone get in the trenches with them. And stay in the trenches with them as long as need be. No matter how hard it got. No matter how hopeless it seemed. They had a tribe of caring, committed people to pull them through.
And thank you, Jesus, my amazing son-in-law is one of those!
On March 13, 2020, after 7 long years, my daughter describes as, “more pain than I knew we could endure, and moments where I wondered if we/he would survive. But we somehow did. And along the way, he found purpose again; serving a mission we are both so proud to be a part of. Today, Chris officially became a VA Police Officer. It’s been a hell of a ride the past 7 years, but man this moment makes it so worth it.”
Yes, today I witnessed my son-in-law, Chris, after 7 long, pain-filled years, finally step triumphantly up and out of his injury battle and into his new purpose and calling as a VA Police Officer, a job and a mission he is so proud to be a part of!
Chris will join Tiffany at our local VA, ministering to and serving our veterans and heroes who just need someone to care for them. As a wounded Warrior himself, Chris will serve with compassion and honor, as does Tiffany, whose veteran father died in 2001, still running from the emotional effects of his wartime injuries.
And one other bright spot here, after many tough years of trying unsuccessfully to have a baby, Tiffany and Chris became foster parents and 3 years ago adopted their sweet, beautiful daughter, and the joy of our lives, Maddux-Grace, who had the distinct honor of pinning the new police badge on her Daddy.
What a beautiful story of hurting and healing, trying and failing, and ultimately steadfast love leading to triumph!
Today, thankfully, the medical experts know much more about PTSD and TBI than in years past and can quickly begin an effective treatment program in a wounded veteran. There is still a long way to go, especially when treating the emotional side of these injuries, but with more, experienced, caring individuals like Tiffany and Chris serving our veterans, we will have more stories of hope and healing.
Yes, there is hope. And there is beautiful life amid the sorrow and panic. Let’s all take time to find it and renew our souls to keep going, one positive step, and one positive story after another.
And who knows, maybe you’ll find a new purpose and ministry to step into too!
This year, God has prepared blessings for you. Scripture says, “He took Adam, whom He had just breathed life into, and put him in the garden.” Notice Adam came into a prepared blessing, something that God had already finished for him. Think about Adam and Eve in the garden. God took the first five days and created the heavens, the earth, the sky, the land and the water. He planted a garden. He put in it beautiful flowers and luscious fruit. He designed rivers to flow through it. He put precious treasures in the ground: onyx, gold and silver. Yes Adam came into a prepared blessing.
When God laid out the plan for your life, He lined up the right people, the right breaks and the right opportunities. He has blessings that have your name on them. If you will stay in faith and keep honouring God, one day you will come in to what already belongs to you. It’s a prepared blessing! Hallelujah!
Today, God has some prepared blessings in store for you, just like He did for Adam in the garden of Eden. God has been working, arranging things in your favour, getting it all perfectly in place. You couldn’t make it happen on your own. It’s just the goodness of God bringing you into a prepared blessing!
“You prepare a table before me…”
(PSALM 23:5, NIV)
Pray With Me
Yahweh, thank You for preparing a place of blessing for me. Father, I choose to trust You and Your timing, knowing that You are working things out on my behalf. God, I glorify You for Your awesome timing and blessings You have prepared for my year, in Christ’s Name! Amen.
In an April 2 interviewwith Focus on the Family, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks about the pandemic as both a scientist and a Christian. Taking questions from Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, Adams acknowledges that the current crisis is “deadly serious” but adds, “There is reason to be hopeful,” both “scientifically and from a faith perspective.”
‘Our book is not yet written’
Despite grim projections of up to 240,000 U.S. deaths, the Surgeon General emphasizes that “those numbers don’t have to be our reality.” He says, “Our book is not yet written, so we need to make sure we’re doing the things that we know work. Social distancing. Keeping six feet away from each other. Teleworking if at all possible. Avoiding non-essential travel.”
If Americans “lean in” to that advice, Adams says, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.” The Surgeon General, an anesthesiologist from Indiana, acknowledges that everyone’s learning on the fly with the novel coronavirus. But he commits to “always try to give you the most accurate information we can when we have it.”
Adams, 45, says he gets frustrated when people put “a political spin” on the pandemic. Public servants are “working hard to try to get to the other side of this,” he says, adding that the crisis will be solved not from Washington, D.C., but “in communities with people coming together and supporting each other to do the right thing.”
Advice on Masks, Safety & Testing
When asked about masks, the Surgeon General admits the issue is “confusing.” While data is being studied, he advises people who do wear a facial covering to wash their hands first and to not touch their face. N95 masks should be reserved for health professionals, he says, and covering your face isn’t a “substitute for social distancing.”
Because “the virus can live for a certain amount of time on hard surfaces,” Adams says, it’s important to clean surfaces often, wash your hands, and avoid touching your face—especially when you’re out in public. With asymptomatic people able to spread the virus, he urges young people against feeling invincible. “Even if you don’t get sick, you could be the one taking [germs] home to your nana,” he says. “We don’t want to unnecessarily scare people, but we want them to have appropriate caution.”
Regarding testing, the Surgeon General says more than 100,000 COVID-19 tests are being administered daily. He also explains the difference between diagnostic testing, which is geared toward the high-risk population and health workers, and surveillance testing, which will guide public policy about when parts of America can start to reopen.
Faith and Family Are Key
Adams, 45, also speaks about the crisis on a personal level. Though he’s had to be away from his own family lately, he calls stay-at-home orders “an opportunity” to interact without screens. “Social distancing doesn’t mean social disengagement,” he reminds people, adding that it’s okay to give blood, safely check on neighbors, and be active outdoors so “we don’t go stir crazy.”
As a Christian, Adams believes “God always has a plan,” and he ponders biblical examples of God putting people where they need to be, not where they’re comfortable. “The most powerful thing you can do for me is to pray for me to hear what [God] is trying to tell me,” he says. The Surgeon General also requests prayer for first responders, medical workers, and others on the front lines.
Being a scientist and a Christian “aren’t mutually exclusive,” says Adams, adding that right now it’s more important than ever “to lean on your faith.”
The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law last week not only serves to bolster individuals, families and for-profit companies impacted by the ongoing pandemic but also offers relief to churches and ministry staff as well.
“Churches and pastors have options available to them depending on their own situations and convictions,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said in a statement. “While we would never tell a pastor what he must do, it is good that the options are available for pastors and churches who may wish to avail themselves of the options available through this legislation.”
GuideStone is an organization that equips churches, universities, hospitals, ministries and mission-sending organizations with products and services that promote financial health and spiritual wellness.
According to GuideStone’s legal team, the stimulus package makes available several forms of relief that can potentially benefit churches and other ministries such as payroll tax credits, tax deferrals, encouragement of charitable contributions, and small business loans.
“The Stimulus provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis,” the document reads. “The credit is available to employers whose operations were fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19-related shutdown order, or gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year.”
Churches and nonprofits, as well as Christian schools, are also eligible for small business payroll protection loans.
The stimulus package makes about $350 billion in government payroll protection loans available to small businesses and organizations that employ less than 500 people in one location. Loans will help borrowers pay things like payroll and employee-related expenses.
GuideStone notes that the purpose of the payroll protection loans through the Small Business Administration is to help organizations keep workers employed during the pandemic. GuideStone assures that tax-exempt entities are “specifically recognized as eligible.”
According to GuideStone, loans can be used to pay things like health insurance premiums, sick leave, mortgage payments, rent payments, debt obligations and utilities. Payroll protection loans can include a term of up to 10 years from the date of application with a maximum interest rate of 4 percent per year.
Payroll costs are defined as “salary or wages, payments of a cash tip, vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave, health benefits, retirement benefits, state and local taxes.” However, GuideStar warns that payroll costs and loan proceeds may not be used to pay salaries above $100,000 per employee.
Organizations eligible for the loan may borrow 2.5 times their average monthly payroll costs for the preceding 12 months from March 2019 to February 2020.
“For example, if the average payroll costs for the preceding 12 months were $20,000, the maximum amount of the loan would be $20,000 times 2.5 for a total of $50,000,” GuideStone explains. “The maximum amount available for a payroll protection loan is $10,000,000.”
GuideStone further notes that the stimulus package allows for self-employed pastors to apply for a payroll protection loan “under the same terms and conditions as other loan applicants.”
“For example, if a pastor’s average monthly salary for the preceding 12 months was $5,000 then the pastor should be able to apply for a loan in the amount of $12,500,” GuideStone details.
Ministries that take out a payroll protection loan can have all or a portion of the principle of the loan forgiven “in an amount equal to payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent or utility costs during the eight-week period following the origination of the loan.”
“The forgiven amount, however, may be reduced based on a formula that compares the ministry’s employment in prior pre-COVID periods with the number of employees and each employee’s wage or salary in the eight-week period following the origination of the loan,” GuideStone advises.
To apply for the payroll protection loan, applications must be submitted through an approved Small Business Administration lender.
Individually, pastors and ministry staff are eligible to receive the recovery rebate — a direct payment of up to $1,200 per individual, $2,400 for married couples and $500 per child — so long as they meet the requirements.
The rebate is for individuals who are not claimed as a dependent with an adjusted gross income of under $75,000, heads of household with an adjusted gross income of $112,500 and married couples whose income is under $150,000.
Those who earned over the income limits laid out for the rebate can qualify for a lower rebate payment depending on how much they earned over the threshold.
“The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 your income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out if your income exceeded $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for married couples with no children,” GuideStone reports. “For a typical family of four, the amount is completely phased out for those with incomes exceeding $218,000.”
As for pastors and ministry staff who lost employment because of COVID-19, the stimulus package makes unemployment benefits traditionally unavailable to church or ministry employees available under certain circumstances.
The bill creates a temporary program that runs through Dec. 31 to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits who can’t work because of the public health emergency.
“The amount of the benefit is established by the unemployment insurance program in the state in which you live,” the document relays. “The stimulus, however, provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months and eliminates the requirement that unemployed individuals incur one week of unemployment before becoming eligible for benefits.”
The stimulus package provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through Dec. 31.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is not something anyone wants to think about, much less become familiar with. I have spoken often with despondent parents whose worst nightmare has become reality—their child has expressed thoughts of suicide. They are terrified, and no one they know talks about it. And when it happens to us as parents, we often have no idea what to do. Because we’re scared in the moment, our decision-making is clouded.
Caring for your child
This article is simply the parent-to-parent support I wish I’d had when those moments presented themselves. I share this with full permission of my kids who have experienced suicidal ideation and, thankfully, survived. Three of our four children have experienced these horrible thoughts. The combination of early trauma and mental illness takes a devastating and debilitating toll on their brains. But we nevertheless share a fierce conviction that we want these experiences to be able to comfort others with the comfort God gave us (2 Cor.). Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way:
First, take this seriously. You will likely feel terrified, but the most important thing is to project love and nurture for your child like never before. Please show up for them in the most nurturing and loving way you can, even if you feel like they are being dramatic, seeking attention, or not counting their blessings. Beg God to help you; he will. Don’t minimize their pain, sermonize to them, or try to reason with them. Instead, be compassionate, tender, and fully attentive.
The second most important thing is to be calm and confident with your child. On the inside, you will likely feel anything but. You can say something like, “Sweetheart, I’m so glad you shared this with me, everything is going to be OK. We’re going to get you the help you need, and we’ll be right there with you every step of the way. You won’t always feel this terrible.”
Third, get professional help ASAP. Christian brothers and sisters, unless your pastor is a licensed clinical mental health provider, professional help is not the pastor or youth pastor. By all means, inform them later for prayer and practical support, but right now your child needs professional help. Don’t let fear prevent you from getting them what they need.
If your child has thought about a suicide plan, keep them in the line of sight at all times, even if that “feels excessive.” If your child is a danger to himself or anyone else, call 911 immediately. You may feel like you’re overreacting, but the old adage exists for a reason: better safe than sorry. If it’s safe to (for example, you have another person to sit with your despairing child while you drive, and you have safety locks on the doors), go ahead and drive straight to an ER to start the process of a behavioral health assessment and evaluation. Before this situation happens, know the behavioral health crisis lines, walk-in centers, or psychiatric hospitals in your city.
If your child’s suicidal condition meets criteria, he or she might be put on an involuntary hold for his or her own safety. This means that for a short period of time, the hospital has the legal authority to ensure the safety of your child. It’s always best to authorize your child’s admittance voluntarily if the professionals deem it’s warranted so they don’t have to exercise the legal option of an involuntary hold.
Parents, if this happens, it may feel like the world is coming to an end. I have spent literally hundreds of days in psychiatric hospitals. I have wept in their halls outside the view of my child. It isn’t as horrible as it feels. Your world is not coming to an end, and neither is your child’s. Your child is getting the professional help he or she needs, and you, as their loving and responsible parents, are making sure of that. Stay nurturing, calm, and confident for and around your child.
If your child is admitted, assure him that while it’s scary, it’s good that he is getting help and that he’ll be back home just as soon as he is healthy and ready. Assure him you’ll talk on the phone and visit often.
And repeat often how proud you are of her for voicing her feelings; how brave she is for receiving help; how, while she can’t know this now, you know she’ll not always feel this way. Tell her it’s okay if she doesn’t have hope—she can borrow yours.
Caring for yourself
Once you know your child is safe in a professional setting, go ahead and fall apart away from his or her view. Weep, wail, scream, but do not try to keep this inside because of shame, stoicism, or other reasons. You’ll eventually get physically sick if you do, and your child(ren) needs you. Remember, parents, you just safely led your child through a nightmare.
Take one day at a time, and don’t borrow tomorrow’s troubles. Keep it simple. Cherish beauty. Rest in Jesus.
Sleep. Take off work if you can. If you have family leave, use it all at once or intermittently in order to set your mind at rest so that you won’t lose your job. If you find yourself barely able to function, abide noise or light, that’s normal.
Be kind and gentle toward yourself and your spouse, and get people praying for all of you. I’d recommend a good Christian counselor for yourself when you have capacity. God is with you. He is near to your broken heart and your child’s whether you can feel him or not.
Find people who love you and will just listen, not offer suggestions or try to fix things. This can be very difficult, but is important. You need those who will mourn with you as you mourn and help you bear your burdens. It’s important that you draw healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your child. You don’t have the capacity to take care of your friends or family who are emotional about what has happened. This might feel mean or rude or different from your usual family dynamics, but you need to prioritize this, or it will crush you, rendering you unable to care for your child in the time of her greatest need.
Please don’t be either reflexively anti-medicine or anti-therapy. There’s always a spiritual component to our lives, so embrace the spiritual but not to the exclusion of the other aspects. And please don’t put this burden and yoke on your suffering child, expecting them to simply pray harder and trust God. If you’ve done that already, just gently and with great love tell them you were wrong and that God loves them and will never leave them alone in their pain.
Don’t be thrown off that the professionals you deal with don’t seem too worked up about your child’s suicidal thoughts. This is their job. Cooperate kindly with them. They have hard jobs. Continue to be your child’s advocate. Be open and willing to hear the counsel the professionals want to give you. Just because you’re a mature Christian who walks with Jesus doesn’t mean you have all the answers for this. Be humble and grateful to them for the work they do.
Once your child has stabilized, make sure to access the step-down care that he or she will need. This may be therapy and psychiatry through either day treatment or outpatient care. Find what’s available, and ask questions. And as much as you’d like to forget this whole episode as a bad dream and get back to life as you know it, don’t minimize it or try to sweep everything under the rug.
Communicate openly with your child and emphasize how smart and brave it is to continue to get the help he needs. Resist the urge to “fix” your child with easy answers. Keep nurturing and loving him. If your child tells you hard things, be unfazed, assuring him that there’s nothing that can push you or God away from him.
This could be a one-time event, or it could be a feature of your child’s serious mental illness. Whatever it is, walk with the One who loves you all, and keep getting professional help. If the help you have isn’t working, keep trying. You may need supernatural endurance and perseverance. I truly can’t count the number of doctors and medicines we’ve gone through in our nearly 10 years of dealing with these issues. It’s exhausting. Take one day at a time, and don’t borrow tomorrow’s troubles. Keep it simple. Cherish beauty. Rest in Jesus. Rest in bed. Be outside. Walk. Consider dogs and horses (God does some beautiful therapy for us through them.)
Don’t be surprised if you fall apart physically, emotionally, or relationally when the crisis passes. It’s typical. Be patient with yourself and your family, and get the help you need. This is imperative for survival. Keep taking care of yourself so you can take care of your children.
And be proud that, with God’s grace and wisdom, you just navigated one of life’s toughest situations. You’ll have much to offer the next parent who needs your help walking through this crisis. God never wastes our pain. He won’t waste what you’ve just been through, and he will never leave or forsake you.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7: 1-800-273-8255
Kelly Rosati is the CEO of KMR Consulting. Rosati’s firm offers clients innovative, practical insights and action steps to achieve their strategic goals in communications and community and government relations. Prior to this role, Rosati was the vice president of Community… Read More
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) defended deeming churches as “essential” in his stay-at-home order, telling reporters during Thursday’s press conference that the government does not have the authority to close a church and adding that they play an important role, particularly “in times like this.”
DeSantis formally issued a stay-at-home order on Wednesday after days of mounting pressure. The order is designed to “limit their [Floridians’] movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities.” Essential activities include picking up groceries, going to doctor appointments, and, notably, attending “religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship.”
DeSantis defended his decision to consider religious services as essential during Thursday’s press conference and stated that he spoke with churches and synagogues “very early on” and asked that they hold their services in a way “that is going to be conducive to this overall mission.”
One, I don’t think the government has the authority to close a church. I’m certainly not going to do that. At the same time, we got with the churches and synagogues very early and said in times like this, what you guys are doing, I think, is even more important. But we ask that you do it in a way that is going to be conducive to this overall mission. And I would say almost all of them 100 percent agree. Some have gone virtual. Some have had people, but they’ve been spread out far enough.
“I mean you guys are spread out, you know, here in this press conference. There’s no reason why you couldn’t do a church service with people ten feet apart,” DeSantis noted. “So we definitely asked them to absolutely abide by the social distancing guidelines.”
Again, DeSantis stressed the importance of religious services, particularly in times like this:
In times like this, I think the service they’re performing is going to be very important for people, especially when you have difficult circumstances and so do it right. Make sure that you’re following the mission. But I think particularly coming up in the Easter season, I think people are going to want to have access to religious services whether it’s online, whether it’s in a more socially distant type of service. But to have that available I think is very important.
As for the order itself, DeSantis, an ally of President Donald Trump, said the president agreed with his decision.
“I did speak with the president about it,” he said this week. “He agreed with the approach of focusing on the hot spots. But at the same time, he understood that this is another 30-day situation and you gotta just do what makes the most sense.”