Center Point Church in Lexington, Kentucky, prayed for God to restore their senior pastor, Tim Parsons, “back to his normal self” during an “online-only” service on Sunday, just two days after he was hospitalized with COVID-19.
Tyson Steelman, a member of the church’s leadership team, explained to congregants during the virtual service Sunday how the pastor’s health rapidly deteriorated after he was diagnosed with the virus on Monday, Aug. 9.
“As many of you know, Tim is sick, and we wanted to kind of shed light on that situation. On Monday, Tim tested positive for COVID-19. And ever since then, he had been quarantining at home with his family. On Friday, the conditions worsened where he was taken to the emergency room. And as of right now, he has been intubated in the hospital,” Steelman said.
“We know many of you, we’ve heard your concerns, your prayers, we thank you for your compassion during this time, and we know that your concerns are heard, and we appreciate those. … But as of right now, wherever you are, whether you’re in your dorm room, whether you’re in your home, wherever you’re at, we’re asking you to pray,” he continued. “Pray with compassion for a God who heals and a God who is faithful.”
Steelman said the church community was praying with “heavy hearts” that Parsons would recover so he could continue doing the Lord’s work.
“Lord, I pray that you would hear the cry of your people,” he prayed. “We pray that he’s not done, that you’ll restore him back to his normal self.”
Parsons’ hospitalization comes as churches, like the rest of the nation, continue to grapple with disparate responses to the coronavirus pandemic, including whether or not they should endorse coronavirus vaccines. Center Point Church officials were not immediately available for further comment when contacted by The Christian Post.
In Bible Belt states like Kentucky, however, many preachers have remained silent on vaccinations because of the deeply divided positions held in their religious communities even if they support getting the vaccines themselves, the Associated Press reported.
“I would say that the vast majority are paralyzed or silent because of how polarized it has been,” theologian Curtis Chang, who has pastored churches and is on the faculty at Duke Divinity School, told the AP.
Some church leaders, like George Davis of the 6,000-member Impact Church in Jacksonville, Florida, are driven to action.
Six church members recently died from the virus in a 10-day window, and the church is now working to promote vaccinations in their community. Earlier this month, the church held a vaccination event where over 260 people were vaccinated. It held a similar event in March where over 800 people were vaccinated.
Davis said that four of the six people who died were under 35, and they were all unvaccinated.
“We are a faith-teaching church. We are a faith-believing church. We believe in divine healing,” Davis told The Christian Post. “But, I just happen to believe that faith and science are not at odds, especially medical science.”
“God gives wisdom to doctors and scientists to come up with cures for the body," he continued. "And when cures are available and they have not proven to be detrimental, I believe it’s wise for us to take advantage of them.”
The effort to get more people vaccinated comes as infections continue surging across the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a 700% increase in the week-over-week average of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. since July 1.
The U.S. registered an average of 10,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in late June, but Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Epidemiology Professor William Moss told USA Today that average has increased to 125,000 cases daily.
“The combination of the delta variant, susceptibility due to relatively low vaccination coverage, some relaxing of our public health measures, these all came together, and we're seeing this wave," he explained.
The Biden administration is also expected to announce as early as this week that most Americans should get a coronavirus booster vaccination eight months after they received their second shot, The New York Times reported.
Officials, the report noted, want Americans who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines to know now that they will need additional protection against the delta variant that is causing caseloads to surge across much of the country. The additional shots will need to be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.