COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This weekend marks the first Sunday with Ohio under the stay-at-home order.
And while Gov. Mike DeWine isn’t commanding churches to not hold service, he’s strongly encouraging creative alternatives.
DeWine made it clear that he is not going to infringe on religious liberty by telling churches they cannot hold services.
He said that before Saturday’s briefing, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton shared a story with him about a congregation in another state who was still holding in-person services, and a bunch of the members came down with the virus.
Naturally, that concerned the governor greatly.
DeWine commended those churches in Ohio who have embraced technology and are using it to bring sermons and messages into people’s homes – and with the first Sunday under the stay at home order, he wanted to again encourage more church leaders to spread their word from a distance.
“It just seems to me to be a huge mistake for any pastor of any church to bring people together tomorrow or any other day,” DeWine said Saturday. “This is a critical period of time and it’s not just for the safety of the people in your congregation. Frankly, it’s for the safety of their friends, their neighbors and total strangers. So, I just can’t imagine that anyone would want to take that risk.”
DeWine encouraged churches to use all communication tools at their disposal: Facebook, radio and television. And again, he said he knows a lot of churches are already getting creative and applauded their many efforts to help their congregations during this time.