As thousands of churches across the world prepare to hold Sunday Service this week, most are preparing livestreams or online services. However, one Pennsylvania pastor has this week issued a humble apology to his local community for keeping his church doors open for a regular Sunday Service last week despite coronavirus concerns and advice to not hold large gatherings.
Pastor Tom Walters of Word Of Life Church of Greensburg, Pennsylvania has describe being flooded with "hateful comments" after deciding to push forwards with last Sunday's service as normal.
In response to the strong criticism, Pastor Walters this week issued an apology for holding the service a week after President Donald Trump and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that no public gatherings of more than 10 people should take place.
During last Sunday's service, Pastor Walters had been adamant that it was the right thing to do was to hold the holy gathering as normal. He said, "I don't want anyone telling us we can't worship our God collectively as a body. This could possibly be, disguised in everything else, a direct attack against the church itself."
However, the decision resulted in widespread condemnation online, and the church leader quickly made a U-turn.
In an open letter to his local community, the pastor wrote: "First of all, let me apologize for any and all frustration and concern that I may have caused you by opening our doors this past Sunday."
Citing Bible verses such as Psalm 91:9-10, he added, "Please believe me when I say that it was not out of arrogance or defiance, but solely for the purpose of praying for our churches, communities, and nation."
Psalm 91:9-10 states: "If you say, 'The Lord is my refuge', and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent."
Pastor Walters continued: "What I failed to recognize is that not all hold to our personal beliefs....my heart was so heavy to experience the amount of hateful comment we received, but I guess I can understand."
He went on to confirm that from this coming Sunday he would follow other churches that have already moved their services online. Furthermore, he announced the cancellation of his church's Easter 'Passion Play'.
The pastor concluded: "Please do not blame our people for this past Sunday, they were simply trying to honor me, and more so our Lord!"