Churches face “test of faith” amid coronavirus outbreak across Europe
Pastor Tan Songhua, of Wuhan Fangjiaoshi Church, wrote a prayer letter to Chinese Christians, calling the coronavirus outbreak a “test of faith” for the Church in Wuhan. Now, as the pandemic spreads across Europe, Christians here are facing a similar test.
The spread of coronavirus has rapidly impacted churches in the UK. In Devon, one church was shut down and sanitised, after a visitor tested positive for coronavirus. Churches in Lancashire and the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London are among the churches no longer sharing hymn books to help reduce physical contact during services.
In Northern Ireland, most church services were cancelled after the Northern Ireland Executive advised against public gatherings of more than 100 people. People above 70 years of age have been asked to reduce their social contact, which includes not attending church. The Church of Wales announced changes to Communion services, temporarily suspending the use of a shared cup of wine.
In Italy, which remains most affected by coronavirus within Europe, the government ordered most churches to close in Rome on 12 March. Some church leaders in Italy are calling for a nationwide closure of churches. Spain implemented a nationwide quarantine on 15 March, requesting a two-week lockdown and banning of all social contact including church services.
Amid the panic permeating Europe, Pastor Songhua and the Christians in Wuhan, the first epicentre of the pandemic, are an encouraging example of how Christians can respond to coronavirus. Churches were closed down in Wuhan, but church leaders continued to minister to their members by live-streaming their services.
Pastor Huang released an online video to encourage Christians in Wuhan, “when all nations are panicking, we believe everything in this world will come to pass, but the power God has given to his children during the plague, will greatly glorify His name”.