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Worship safely on Easter Sunday

Gov. Tate Reeves found a way to right a wrong that resulted from mixed messages in his statements regarding his vague shelter-in-place executive order that went into effect a week ago today.

Last Sunday, the Rev. Stanley Searcy, pastor of New Hope the Vision Center Missionary Baptist Church in Adams County, saw the order as an affront to his Constitutional right to hold worship services and held an in-person Palm Sunday service with 250 people in attendance.

Searcy said he did not believe Reeves’ order could take away his constitutional right to hold services and Reeves agreed that the order could not be enforced.

Searcy’s in-person service, however, drew backlash from members of the community, many of who questioned the legality of such a service under Reeves’ order, which specifically prohibited gatherings of 10 people or more.

Because of Reeves’ conflicting statements saying he did not believe the state could shut down church services but he did believe the service was a violation of his order, local officials and law enforcement could not enforce the order.

Searcy’s decision to hold the in-person service not only put himself and his congregation in potential harm’s way but also the entire community.

Searcy’s decision also put Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and Adams County Emergency Operations Manager Robert Bradford Sr., who are both members of his church, and Gov. Tate Reeves, in awkward positions.

Reeves came up with a Solomon solution, however, by inviting Searcy to attend his Wednesday press conference to offer a prayer and by asking Searcy man-to-man and Christian-to-Christian to consider not holding in-person worship services because of the dangerous nature of COVID-19.

Searcy, when offered a choice and made aware of the dangers of spreading the virus, agreed not to hold in-person services through the duration of Reeves’ shelter-in-place order that expires April 20.

We commend Searcy for agreeing not to hold in-person services for the good of his church members and the community. We also commend Reeves for taking the step to resolve the matter in a diplomatic Christian matter.

Thanks to all. Worship safely this Easter.