W.Va. Capitol Dome

CHARLESTON — As the world faces the novel coronavirus, West Virginians across the state joined in prayer during Gov. Jim Justice’s declared day of prayer on Wednesday.

As Justice declared a stay-at-home order on March 23 the event was live-streamed from the capitol. Opening the faith-based event Justice himself prayed for the state’s safety from the virus.

While praying, Justice said, “I also know that you’ve [God] given us the beauty that is beyond belief in our people. Our people that abound with truth, and honor, and faith-based, and family. Those people today are concerned, they’re not necessarily worried because they have so much faith in you dear God, but they’re absolutely anxious. They’re absolutely concerned.”

Justice, who announced the state’s day of prayer, has continually stressed the importance of relying on your faith during this trying time. With cases of the virus rising in the United States frequently, many officials are agreeing with Justice, that now is a time to heavily rely on faith.

Craig Hammond, director of the Bluefield Union Mission, is thankful that the state’s governor and residents are turning to God for healing. Hammond though believes that prayer should always be the first action taken.

“I think we always ought to start with prayer we shouldn’t use it as a last resort. Prayer is where you begin,” Hammond said.

Though residents are left to stay home after Justice ordered a stay-at-home order, Hammond is sure that this challenging time has West Virginians focusing on their faith. This, Hammond believes, is a silver lining.

“People were so busy with their lives, then they realized ‘Wow. Our priorities aren’t where they should be,’” Hammond said.

After closing recreational facilities and nonessential businesses, many churches have followed suit and turned to online services to follow safety guidelines. To operate are normally as possible in these times, many churches have begun streaming services online.

To Hammond, this is an excellent idea to still interact with your church family, but in a safe way. By watching sermons and services from your home, this allows church members to still practice their faith while avoiding contamination.

Christ Episcopal Church, in Bluefield, did just that. At noon on Wednesday, Rev. Chad Slater live-streamed a prayer service on the church’s Facebook page. Here Slater prayed over the state’s healthcare workers and more.

“Remembering especially all doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, researchers, and others, that with wisdom, patience and courage, they may minister in His name to the suffering, the friendless and the needy,” Slater said during his prayer. “We commend this nation to thy merciful care.”

In Princeton, the Greater Princeton Ministerial Association (GPMA) is facing challenges with their Holy Week services. These services, according to Pastor Steve Janning, of First Christian Church Disciples of Christ, take place before Easter. To ensure that faith isn’t lost, the association is taking to live streaming services.

“The Bible tells us that we shouldn’t forsake the assembling of ourselves together because we draw strength from each other,” Janning said. “Even when we can’t meet physically, by live streaming and getting together that way, that helps to keep the flame burning. A lot of people feel like they’re not by themselves.”

For the Holy Weeks services, members of the GPMA have been live streaming from churches in the city. This way, members of many Christian denominations are able to enjoy the annual services.

“This is cross-denominational,” Janning said. “We’ve got Methodists, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, members of Cornerstone Family Church, all different denominations. We’re all working together to share the word of Christ.”

During this trying time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Janning explained the importance of focusing on faith.

“That gives hope. Hope is one of the most important things we really need. If we don’t have hope we get discouraged and give up and quit,” Janning said.

Contact Emily D. Coppola at ecoppola@bdtonline.com

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