DES MOINES, Iowa — Hundreds of churches, synagogues and mosques across Iowa are suspending services to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Eternity Church in Clive made the decision to move its service online after consulting the mayors of Clive and Des Moines.
“It was probably one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make, but honestly, we just want to be a part of bringing health to the community. We don’t want to be the reason that things got harder for Iowans. We want to be the reason that things got better for Iowans,” said Lead Pastor Jesse Newman.
The church, that on a weekend can see 1,500 people come through its doors, kept only essential staff in order to stream their service online.
Sunday morning the Diocese of Des Moines, which serves over 100,000 Catholics, announced that it was canceling all masses until further notice. These decisions are praised by Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, who is urging all non essential gatherings to be minimized.
“We had conversations with multiple faith based organizations about what we should do, how should we handle it, I think the question is how do you maintain that distancing when you have a hundred or even 1000 people come to a worship service,” said Cownie.
For the Islamic Cultural Center Bosniak, that meant canceling all in person activities, with the exception of Jumu-ah prayer which takes on Fridays. The Imam says it’s only open to adults with no underlying health conditions.
“We will follow the instruction of the state of Iowa and will follow the decision of what they make and what they suggest,” said Imam Nermin Spahic.
For now, most places of worship are closed until further notice, but religious leaders are hopeful it won’t last long.
“Stay calm, be patient, and God will help us,” said Spahic.
“We’ll get through it and come back stronger than ever at the other end,” said Newman.