Seattle area faith leaders share united message of healing during coronavirus pandemic

SEATTLE – The impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak are causing uncertainty and trying times for many people. Those who are religious often rely on their faith for guidance. However, that can be difficult for some as congregations are following social distancing recommendations.

Friday, Seattle area faith leaders joined King County officials explaining how they are adjusting worship and services during the pandemic, while still practicing faith.

Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown, of Plymouth Church Seattle UCC, spoke at Friday’s news conference. She said now is the time to put teachings and principles to the test. Brown said spreading messages of healing and understanding can be done without brick and mortar.

Her church has canceled all classes and programming through April. The church is providing daily prayers and Sunday sermons all online.

“We can be a community while promoting safety,” said Brown.

Whether it’s a drive-through service or a virtual sermon, Seattle joins congregations around the world that are changing how they worship to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

“Doing so will give doctors and nurses a fighting chance,” said Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum of Kavana Cooperative.

At the Al Islam Center of Seattle, Imam Benjamin Shabaz said the traditional Friday prayer can draw as many as 400 people. In order to practice social and physical distancing, members are praying 10 people at a time staying six feet apart, or staying home. Shabaz said it’s not about location, but rather the principles.

“Follow the golden rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” said Shabaz.

Earlier in March, the Archdiocese of Seattle announced the suspension of all public masses in western Washington. The Archbishop is encouraging people to follow healthy guidelines and also think of those on the front line of the outbreak.

“I’m inviting you to pray for doctors and nurses,” said Archbishop Paul Etienne. “It’s one of the greatest ways we express our faith.”

No matter the religion, faith leaders said the pandemic calls for unity in sharing a message of hope and healing.

“Saving a life is like saving the world,” said Nussbaum.

Faith leaders said they don’t want people to be discouraged during these trying times. That’s why so many of them are using online tools to still get their messages out. They did mention other classes and programming will be closed at least through the end of the month as a precaution.