Letter to the editor: Remote worship services could reduce other burdens in Maine

They could help slow the spread of COVID, limiting hospital caseloads, and ensure that our schools stay open.

from the Portland Press Herald Opinion January 18, 2022

The Maine Council of Churches was right, and thinking ethically, to recommend a shift to entirely remote services (“Maine Council of Churches urges virtual-only worship services to slow surge of COVID-19,” Jan. 4).

The Rev. Kerry R. Mansir delivers a livestreamed sermon on April 26, 2020, from the altar at Christ Church Episcopal on the Gardiner Common. The Maine Council of Churches is now urging congregations to go back to virtual-only services. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal, File Buy Image

First and foremost, churches should strive to make services accessible to all worshippers, particularly the vulnerable. The current surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by the omicron variant, is also placing a burden on already-overextended hospitals and health care workers, so anything we can do to reduce caseloads helps those front-line workers.

In addition, schools are struggling to keep students in the classroom while teachers, bus drivers and support staff are quarantining, testing positive and caring for family members who are affected by COVID-19.

In a related piece recently, National Public Radio reported on how COVID-19 is seriously affecting the mental health of students, who rely on schools for education as well as other services, including food, physical warmth and mental health services.

In that piece, NPR reporter Anya Kamenetz asks: “Is our country willing to do what it takes to make sure our schools stay open, even if that means maybe closing other things and giving schools what they need to stay open safely?” The Maine Council of Churches is willing. Amen to that.

Jennifer Niese