ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- As many as 300 clergy of mostly inner city churches held a teleconference with St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Louis County executive Sam Page. The elected leaders gave pastors an update on the coronavirus pandemic and strongly urged them not to hold services on Sunday.
"We would certainly advise that you don't have church services with more than 10 people," said Krewson.
Krewson said serious steps like holding gatherings to 10 or fewer and using social distancing can prevent people from getting sick.
Reverend Charles Norris of St. James A.M.E. Church asked if police would shut down churches that hold Sunday services or if there would be some sort of penalty.
Both Krewson and Page said no, police would not been sent to churches holding services. But Page added that pastors would be putting church members at risk.
St. Louis public safety director, Judge Jimmie Edwards stressed the importance of following the guidelines.
"I think that it would be irresponsible for pastors to put in jeopardy the health safety and welfare of their parishioners," said Edwards.
Friendly Temple Church released the following statement:
Friendly Temple Church has continually accepted the call to serve the community through programming that assists senior citizens, housing, job training, providing meals to those who need support, early childhood education, and so much more. In the same spirit of service, we will move to a virtual worship platform during this coronavirus pandemic to ensure and promote the safety of our members. Our faith requires us to act wisely, particularly when it comes to caring for people.
We are communicating immediate steps to our congregation and the community and we are taking steps beginning with streaming a worship message on this Sunday instead of gathering in our traditional manner. We are excited to fully explore how the use of technology can further the Gospel as we meet the spiritual and physical needs of our members and this community. For more information, please visit friendlytemple.org in the days to come.
Dr. Sammie Jones of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church said he'd planned to conduct regular services this weekend but changed his mind.
"My wife convinced me along with my education committee who said pastor you've got to do more than just what you want to do, you've got to do what's best for everybody," said Jones.
During the teleconference pastors shared ideas about how to have parishioners make donations online and how to stream church services on the internet.