At Bethel, a Pentecostal megachurch based in the city of Redding, California, the faithful emphasize spiritual gifts such as healings and modern-day miracles, but church leaders say they also believe in wisdom and modern medicine.
That’s why, as the coronavirus continues to spread across the nation, Bethel officials said they are taking precautions in the way it conducts its ministries.
The church is discouraging Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students — who evangelize to strangers as they learn to pray and to heal the sick — from visiting health care settings.
Bethel Church spokesman Aaron Tesauro told Religion News Service by email that although the church believes “in a God who actively heals,” students are not encouraged to visit health care settings at this time. Tesauro also said church policy only allows people to visit a hospital at the invitation of someone in the hospital.
Several mission trips have also been canceled, Tesauro said.
Tesauro said Bethel has been in contact with Shasta County Health and Human Services and is following guidelines and recommendations of the U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The church is urging its members to wash their hands often, stay home if sick, avoid touching their face with unwashed hands and to clean and disinfect objects they’ve touched, among other things.
“We believe that wisdom, modern medicine and faith are meant to work together, and express the value for each in the pursuit of continued health and healing,” Tesauro said.
As of Tuesday night, Bethel had not canceled the nine church services it holds each week. Tesauro said 6,300 adults attend those services on average.
Richard Flory, senior director of research and evaluation at the University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture, said the church can recognize science as a God-given thing. Oftentimes, he said, miracle healing is “reserved for extraordinary circumstances.”
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Source: Religion News Service