SALT LAKE CITY (BP) — Pastor Bryan Catherman’s neighbors were crying Wednesday, afraid the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that struck Salt Lake City, Utah, a few hours earlier signaled the end of the world.
The moderate earthquake with its aftershocks killed no one and caused little structural damage, but it further shook the resolve of many people already shaken by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has killed more than 9,300 globally.
“Some of my neighbors — not all of my neighbors — but some of my neighbors were very afraid,” said Catherman, who pastors Redeeming Life Church in the eclectic Rose Park community near the quake’s epicenter. “I was dealing with some neighbors, adult neighbors, that were just in tears, crying, ‘This is the end. There’s going to be another one; we’re not going to make it.’
“It gave me lots of opportunity to speak into hope found in Christ.”
With Redeeming Life Church already closed in a wave of national closures aimed at controlling COVID-19, Catherman took to social media to spread Gospel hope.
In the state dominated by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Catherman’s Rose Park community of about 35,000 people is considered an anomaly. Catherman counts only about a quarter of the residents as practicing Mormons. Another quarter are non-practicing Mormons, and about 48 percent are a mix of Buddhist, agnostic and other belief systems.
“I don’t have Christians in my community, very, very few,” he said.
Redeeming Life has about 20 members and averages nearly 60 in Sunday worship, according to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Church Profile.
If the community were majority Mormon, an expert told BP, residents would receive the messages of hope offered by LDS leaders since the quake and during the pandemic.
“I think it’s going to make them feel more justified in what they believe,” said Travis Kerns, an associate professor of apologetics and world religions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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Source: Baptist Press