With the announcement from many public health and federal government officials to forgo public gatherings—some as small as 50 people—over concerns of coronavirus, thousands of worshipers moved online to “attend” Sunday church service leaving churches across the country vacant.
COVID-19 has taken the lives of 69 individuals while infecting approximately 4,000 across the United States. Amid the growing concern of the virus, President Trump announced Sunday, March 15, 2020, as a National Day of Prayer.
Churches across the United States moved services to online-only in an effort to decrease the spread of coronavirus. Although officials recommend—some even demand—that gatherings of 50 or more be postponed or canceled, churches of all sizes have decided to cancel services or move online if the resources are available.
One of President Trump’s evangelical advisors, pastor Jentezen Franklin of Free Chapel Church in Gainesville, GA, preached a sermon titled “Choose Faith Over Fear” in an empty worship center Sunday morning as congregants watched online, quarantined in their homes.
“All that’s here are empty seats because the building and the seats are not the church. The people are the church. In the Old Testament, God had a temple for His people,” pastor Franklin preached. “But in the New Testament God has a people for his temple. He said I’ll live in you and your body will be my temple.”
Friday evening March 13, President Trump announced that March 15, 2020, would be a National Day of Prayer, citing that America is a country “that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these.”
He used the following three verses to encourage citizens to pray as they consider how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic:
President Trump concluded his statement saying, “I… do hereby proclaim March 15, 2020, as a National Day of Prayer for All Americans Affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic and for our National Response Efforts.”
He added, “I urge Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers for all those affected, including people who have suffered harm or lost loved ones.”