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As a Pastor’s Wife I Don’t Support Churches Illegally Opening

Mar 23, 2021

“Remember, you have to keep your mask on, and stay in your seat,” I gently reminded my three-year-old, while fitting the tiny loops around her ears. I held her hand and carefully carried her up the ancient stone steps and swung open the heavy, nearly 200-year-old door of our church.

As a wife to a pastor and mother to three young daughters we are slowly getting used to our new Sunday morning normal, now that churches are open for in-person services. For nearly a year I stayed away from the church building, while my husband ran online services, or met with very small groups indoors (when we were allowed to do so). My daughters and I watched their father and my husband online, or spent our Sunday mornings on an outdoor walk, or doing crafts. We missed gathering with others, but we knew it was the right decision to keep our distance.

"About 30 minutes from the creaky old stone church I attend, another congregation has been illegally hosting church services throughout lockdown."

Now we are adjusting to a new COVID-friendly church routine. I sit at a table and sign-in churchgoers who have registered to attend the service, while our eldest daughter checks the slides with her dad, and our younger two not-so-patiently sit on the wooden pew at the front row of the church.

It’s not without bumps and hiccups. Kids cry, or cling to their parents legs while they stand on stage — well, mostly my kids do. They pull down their masks and groan, or sit too close to their friends. It’s a challenge, but one that we face with enthusiasm, if it means we all get to be together.


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About 30 minutes from the creaky old stone church I attend, another congregation has been illegally hosting church services throughout lockdown. While many other churches were streaming services throughout the stay-at-home order, a few others have opposed the lockdown and allowed in-person services to run despite steep fines and many warnings not to. Many of these churches say that their fundamental religious freedoms have been stripped by the government, and that no cases have been contracted through these gatherings.

Regardless, the folks that have chosen to oppose the law and claim persecution do not represent the majority of law-abiding people of faith, whether Christian, Muslim or Buddhist. Most of us have followed COVID-19 measures enacted by the government because we know it’s the right thing to do. Keeping the most vulnerable safe is most definitely an act of love towards others — it's a way of actively showing our commitment to our friends, families and overall community.

I don’t claim to speak for everyone who holds their faith as sacred. I am just one person, but I do believe that things like science, reason and listening to medical experts can be mutually conducive to believing in a higher power. A church that cannot meet in person can still be a church, and a faith community that cannot sing, embrace each other or rub shoulders in a pew can still find ways of loving one another, whether it’s dropping off meals to older parishioners, writing thoughtful handwritten letters or having an outdoor distanced visit.


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If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we are resilient. If we’re willing to get a little bit creative, we can find ways to embrace our old traditions in new ways. In our home, we’ve learned that church is not a building, it’s a community of people. We’ve been reminded that God isn’t contained inside of a sanctuary, but can be found all around us.

Instead of gathering with other congregants, this last year my kids have dropped off craft kits to children in quarantine, they’ve made chalk art with soothing messages for our neighbours. We’ve delivered groceries and meals for those who cannot leave their home, or who could use some reminding that they are loved and not alone. We’ve written cards to grandparents and waved through windows. We’ve told our children, over and over again, that nothing can stop us from showing up for our community, and we can be safe and loving at the same time.

I hope that one day we can have the kind of church service that we once had, but for now, I know that the right thing to do is to exercise caution, care and an outpouring of love in all things. In our home, that’s the Jesus way.

Article Author Brianna Bell
Brianna Bell

Read more from Brianna here.

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based in Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including The Globe & Mail, The New York Times and The Washington Post.