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Tallahassee faith leaders agree to follow CDC guidelines, promote digital alternatives

Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 18:37:46-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, and Passover are all just around the corner but this year, church service will feel different.

Scenes from a Tampa church holding service last Sunday sparked a debate across the state: Should churches be considered an essential service or a social gathering?

Governor Ron DeSantis answered that question in his safer at home order, saying that church is considered an essential activity.

The order asks churches to follow the CDC guidelines and try to encourage congregations to worship via cell phone.

"Please stay safe," DeSantis said. "Stay in if you don't have to go anywhere. This is our faith executive order."

Faith leaders in Tallahassee are urging congregations to worship in alternative ways in order to follow CDC guidelines.

"Jesus had 12 and turned the world upside down," said Julie Mandrell.

"The phone is the best camera now," Rudy Ferguson said.

The pastors urge other churches to consider going digital, even if it's just holding a phone up to do a Facebook live.

Tallahassee Memorial Hospital president Mark O'Bryant wants to remind people of other communities impacted by similar circumstances.

"When you look at other communities not so far from here," said O'Bryant, "it doesn't take much to create an explosion of COVID-19 in a community."

Leon County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge agreed with Gov. DeSantis.

"We are not in anyway, nor would we ever consider, closing churches," Desloge said.

"Certainly in light of what's going on in our community right now, if there was ever a time for prayer, now is that time."

Desloge maintained that service is possible at a distance.

On Thursday, pastors at Bethel Missionary even encouraged the pastors of smaller churches to reach out if they need any help going to a more digital model.