St. Louis County is urging residents to “stay and pray” this year, avoiding in-person church services for Easter and other religious holidays due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The county and state are under stay-at-home orders and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people issued first by County Executive Sam Page and later by Gov. Mike Parson.
“Passover, Easter, Ramadan, and other religious holidays are important celebrations of our faiths,” the county said in information released Saturday. “This year, we will be celebrating them in new ways, creating new traditions and finding creative ways to enjoy the holidays and our family and friends. We must all work together to keep everyone in our community and our places of worship healthy and safe.”
Instead, the county urges residents to:
· Take advantage of the ability to participate in services that are available online or on television.
· Continue family traditions through video chat or phone calls.
· Cook traditional foods to enjoy the familiar tastes and smells of the holiday.
· Celebrate in person with those that live with us.
The county says that residents should avoid:
· Attending any in-person worship service.
· Congregating in public areas.
· Inviting others to celebrate at our home.
· Attending a celebration outside of our homes.
Parson invited faith leaders to his daily press briefing Friday, emphasizing that the message of Easter continues even without traditional church services.
Parson was joined by Pastor Jon Nelson of Soma Community Church in Jefferson City and the Rev. Monsignor Robert Kurwicki of the Diocese of Jefferson City.
“This is a time of serious pain and hurt, but this is also a time of faith, faith across denominational lines, because this particular pandemic hits us all equally,” Kurwicki said.
Parson said decisions impacting people of faith have been some of the hardest he’s had to make since becoming governor. His order restricting large gatherings has led to in-person religious services being canceled, including for Easter Sunday.
“But let me just say this: no virus, no government, no piece of paper can keep up from worshipping,” Parson said.