The coronavirus outbreak is now affecting places of worship, Kawaiaha’o Church is shutting its doors to public gatherings out of an abundance of caution.
On a typical Sunday service the church sees about 250 worshipers but that will not be the case for at least the next 60 days, Pastor Kenneth Makuakāne said services will be suspended including youth services and other events.
The pastor said, “I am the servant of the people and so if I am not there to properly secure the place or to make sure they are protected then I am not doing my kuleana or my responsibility.”
Pastor Kenneth said part of his congregation is made up by older adults, an age group at high risk of serious illness from Covid 19.
He said it was a tough decision but he has to keep in mind the many visitors who visit the church.
The church is a U.S. National Historic Landmark and at one point it was the national church of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
He said, “We have the ship-line that comes through here and I am not saying that they are passing this coronavirus but we need to protect our members and our visitors who come to the church.”
Other denominations are also taking action, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints suspended all public gatherings worldwide.
While the Catholic church advises communion to be given in hand and not on the tongue, it suspended hand holds during prayer and emptied holy water containers at the church doors.
Pastor Kenneth said the move is not to create fear but it is about protecting others.
He said, “As leaders of our different organizations have to not comply but be ever vigil so that we will be prepared in case something happens.”
The church will remain free of large gatherings for now but Pastor Kenneth encourages his congregation to join him in prayer online through their website.