In the midst of mass cancellations of public events thanks to coronavirus, some of Miami's megachurches are choosing to forego in-person services in favor of live-streamed sermons.
Vous Church in Wynwood, whose pastor famously officiated Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's wedding, has canceled all of its regular meetings until further notice, according to its website.
In a video message, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. says the church also has canceled its Vous Girl on SOBE event at the Fillmore on Thursday. Vous will monitor the situation and disseminate updates about coronavirus on its website.
Trinity Church, run by Wilkerson's father, also will cancel all face-to-face gatherings to mitigate any risk of spreading the virus.
"This is an announcement that I didn't really wanna make, but it seems as though it's come to this," Pastor Rich Wilkerson Sr. said in the same video message. "Our leadership team here at Trinity Church has felt it best that we forego big meetings here at the church... all three of our services will be online."
Churches across the nation have been forced to decide whether to close their doors amid the public health crisis. Some observers see religious services, with so many people in close quarters, as potential incubators for the virus. One Washington, D.C., church asked hundreds of congregants to self-quarantine after their reverend tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Some large churches in Miami, however, have chosen to remain open and rely on God to see them through the epidemic. El Rey Jesús, an international ministry with a campus in Hialeah, averages 150 people in attendance per service. Pastor Monica Ordoñez tells New Times the church has been cleaning and disinfecting all week.
"Our trust is always in our God that he protects his children. We trust that God has control over our health," Ordoñez says in Spanish.
Nevertheless, the church is providing hand-sanitizing stations for worshippers.
"We've also sent a message to the members of the church that if they are sick or have a cough or cold, that it's better that they stay home and get better to prevent any contagion or alarm," Ordoñez says.
Metro Life Church in Doral also plans to remain open. The church posted a video on its Instagram page this week of a stockpile of disinfectants and cleaning supplies and said it was getting ready for three in-person services and a women's ministry event.
Most large gatherings are not encouraged, and the CDC has warned people to stay at least six feet away from others and to wash their hands regularly with soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.