Faith and Science: How the church used both to fight COVID-19
SALT LAKE CITY — The 191st General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has gone virtual in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, making this the third session of the semiannual gathering that has been moved online.
Institutions of faith have experienced a number of losses over the past year. Those include closed doors and online services to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But now, church leaders are looking forward to the day they can reopen services with full pews. With the vaccine rollout moving swiftly in Utah, that day may be close.
Although faith and science are typically viewed as opposites, church leaders emphasize the need for both in the fight against COVID-19.
“Science would become the Savior for in–person church services,” said Debbie Dujanovic for a special report in KSL NewsRadio’s series Conference Conversations. “Some churches have yet to completely throw open the doors. Others have opened the doors so sort of with social distancing required a limit on how many can enter and be in church at one time masking and no handshaking, how other things look up in your neck of the woods at church.”
Church launches vaccination efforts across the world
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Feb. 26 it would provide a $3 million grant to support global vaccine distribution efforts. The grant, which will go toward United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), comes one year after the church donated another $3 million in 2020 for initial responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As you look at President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he has really shown […] the world that faith and science go together,” said Boyd Matheson. “That the science and the soul are interconnected and so this is really an extension of that and moving these vaccines into places all around the world and the impact of that is just going to be beyond measure.”
Matheson said supporting those efforts is crucial to end the pandemic because it strengthens members’ confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines. Dujanovic agreed, calling recent vaccine developments the “catalyst” in the return to in-person church services.
The return to church: What will it look like?
More than 940,000 Utahns had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday. That puts churches in a better position to reconsider a return to “normal.”
Hosts Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega took a look across the state to see which churches were reopening their doors. Some have reopened their doors for socially distant services, but others have remained online.
Calvary Baptist Church — Utah’s largest predominantly African American church — has reopened its services; however, fewer than 100 people may attend at a time.
The Cathedral of the Madeleine, one of the area’s largest Catholic churches, is also taking steps to reopen services. The congregation started at 20% capacity; now, it only blocks off every other pew to allow for social distance. Reverend Martin Diaz said he thinks services will return to somewhat normal by August or September.
‘Hope on the Horizon’: Linking faith and science during General Conference
Hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic continue KSL NewsRadio’s series “Hope on the Horizon,” this time looking at the vaccine efforts within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as part of the station’s “Conference Conversations.” They explore the connection between faith and science, and how developments in COVID vaccines will serve as a catalyst to return hundreds of thousands of Utahns back to church services as we once knew them.
Listen to the full episode, produced by Caitlyn Johnston, here.
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