19 May 2020 | In a message posted yesterday on his Facebook page, Oregon Conference President Dan Linrud said Adventist churches would remain closed in the conference despite a stay-at-home order being struck down by a circuit judge in the state.

Linrud framed the decision to close Adventist churches as a safety issue, not a religious liberties infraction.

His complete Facebook message is included below:

All church members share the strong desire to regather as whole church families for worship and fellowship. We are all eager for this as soon as we can do so…safely and responsibly. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, closing church buildings to gatherings has been a matter of safeguarding our church family members—especially those with the highest health risks—from becoming infected or, worse, dying as a result of our meeting. We have also wanted to be part of the solution to avoiding the unnecessary spread of infection in our communities across the Oregon Conference. This has never been an issue about religious rights or liberties.

Actual facts—not conspiracies—show that COVID-19 transmission happens most readily when groups of people share the same physical space for an extended period of time (i.e., public transit, retirement centers, choir rehearsals, church gatherings, classrooms, etc.). Although the Oregon governor’s Stay Home/Stay Safe order has been struck down by a local circuit judge in Oregon (which is being appealed to higher court), those who are entrusted to guide public health policy (CDC, OHA, WHA) still universally discourage the aforementioned gatherings to prevent the spread of this virus.

As conscientious Seventh-day Adventists who proclaim a message of health and wholeness, our stewardship of people’s wellbeing is paramount. As Jesus Himself demonstrated, personal rights are secondary to our responsibility to love others more than ourselves in looking out for their wellbeing (He gave His life to spare ours).

We are progressively moving toward a time for reopening our churches, as deemed safe in our respective communities. Until then, or in doing so, thank you for being a joyful participant in the ways of Jesus.

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